Thursday, March 3, 2011

Corporal Punishment

As I've interviewed the former students and teachers of Pilot Mountain School the topic turns inevitably to discipline techniques. Make that technique, singular, in the form of corporal punishment, spanking. The very thought horrifies the modern thinker, yet it was never given a second thought in the 1940's, 1950's and even into the enlightened sixties. It's just the way things were and looking back through the telescope of time, I must remind myself of that fact as I listen and nod in sympathy as each person relates a particular story, often with tear brimmed eyes. For many students the sting of corporal punishment lasted longer than the five minutes after the actual whack. Sixty years later it still stings.

Despite the sting, time after time, the students and parents defended the method. A little spank in the hall echoed throughout the school and stopped many a potential problem before it ever started. The children behaved because they knew the consequences.

Now they can laugh about it. There was the time an eighth grader put a spelling book in the seat of his pants. When the whack sounded odd, the teacher knew, the class knew, the guilty knew, too, smiling until he had to remove the book and take even more punishment.

There was the time one sassy boy was spanked in the principal's office, made a comment, was spanked again, made a comment, was spanked again. Six times it took him to connect the cause with the effect.

Then there was the fifteen year old seventh grade boy who took the last spanking he would ever endure at school. He would be sixteen in a few weeks, but he dropped out that day. Never returned. Who is laughing now?

Things were different then.

Catch of the day,


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