Whatever happened to classroom discipline? Remember when we had to be in class on time with all our supplies, homework in hand, ready to learn? Remember what happened when you weren’t on time or didn’t have your supplies or homework? You may have come in contact with the dreaded. . .dare I say it? The PADDLE.
This horribly torturous relic of the past, in case you don’t remember, were too young to have experienced the practice of–ooh–“corporal punishment,” or have blocked the painful memory of actually having had it administered to your own body, was a plank of wood used by a stern disciplinarian to apply misery to the misbehaving student’s tender backside.
Unfortunately, the paddle has gone the way of chalkboards and textbooks, and school discipline, in my opinion after 30 years in public schools, has gone out the window. When the paddle was a real consequence for misbehavior and disrespect, students had a healthy fear of their teachers and administrators, which was reflected in their willingness to learn. Teachers didn’t have to spend half the class period trying to get their students to listen to instructions. They knew if they disrupted the class, there were real and instant consequences out in the hallway, often delivered right outside the door where the other students could hear. How politically incorrect that would be these days! I shudder to think of the uproar THAT would cause! Amazingly, students respected teachers for being consistent and fair in meting out “licks” or “swats,” as we called them. The paddle was often signed by the receiving student, as you can see in the photo above, becoming a type of badge of honor, but one not coveted by most students.
Not that I enjoyed giving those swats. I despised it. My blood pressure would go up, my hands would shake, and I feared an accident. Believe me, I had heard horror stories of teachers taking out their frustrations on kids and leaving marks or missing the target and striking a tailbone or spine. But I set my classroom behavior limits and administered the consequences as promised. It never required more than two or three sessions with the paddle before students knew that I meant business.
My science classes, including labs, were orderly, quiet at the proper times, controlled noise at others. And students had respect for me and each other. Where have those days gone? I am convinced that the banning of corporal punishment in schools is directly responsible for the breakdown of school discipline.
Last school year I and the other teachers around me spent more time dealing with tardies, disrespect, bullying, lack of supplies, and disruptions that we did actually teaching or facilitating learning. We spent valuable time defending ourselves to administrators and parents when we should have been planning lessons or tutoring. Add all of this to the increasingly tougher standards for students and teachers set by the state and federal governments. My highest regards to those who are preparing to brave the battlefront for another year.
You go, people! Teachers rock! Hang in there, and have a wonderful school year! Discipline hasn’t completely gone out with the paddle. . .be creative and find ways to engage those kids. . .you will make it!