Friday, March 14, 2008

School Discipline, Sixties Style

Education has changed quite a bit since I attended elementary school. We
started the day by praying, saluting the British flag (Canada didn't have a flag way back then) and singing God Save the Queen. We had real blackboards made from giant slabs of smooth black slate. And we had discipline.
Corporal punishment was a well-accepted fact of life in those days. On several occasions I saw boys being smacked across the palms of their hands with a wooden ruler by a teacher. A really naughty boy would be sent to the principal's office for a strapping on his hands. Girls were punished by being kept after school for an hour or so. If you missed the school bus and had to take a city bus or walk home in the dark, that was just the way it was.
I believe the strap was still use in the high school I attended. I never saw a teacher use a ruler there, because girls and boys were put into separate classes. Our punishment was writing lines. (For those of you who still do this, if you write with two pens at once, it takes half as long. No one will notice the difference if they are the same colour.)
I never saw a spanking while at school, but I do remember two separate instances of it being talked about.
The first was when Mr. G had the pleasure of teaching geography to 25 inattentive 12-year-old girls twice a week. For most of us, it was our first experience of having a male teacher. Mr. G would frequently admonish us to hand in our homework on time or else, in his words, "I will spank". Of course, we all knew he wouldn't, and I looked forward to each of his classes in the hopes of hearing that word again. Sometimes he would vary it by saying, "If you haven't got your assignment finished by Friday, what will I do, Patty?" and Patty, or whomever he chose, would say, "Spank". Sadly, he never asked me that question.
The second occasion was during my final year of high school. In order to graduate, everyone had to pass a standard set of 12 exams set by the Province. The last month of the school year was spent studying, reviewing and writing practice exams in all subjects.

Our math teacher, Mr. J, was feared by everyone, although he could be humorous if he chose. He called us all by our last names, prefaced with Mr. or Miss unless he was angry. One afternoon, he asked me a question related to the problem he was doing on the board. I gave the wrong answer. (Can you imagine this ever happening to Hermione?) He knew I could do better and hadn't been trying. He glared at me and growled, "Granger, I could spank you."
I distinctly remember squirming in my chair, and my face must have turned bright red. I have no idea what went on for the remainder of the class. I was very embarrassed, but also extremely excited. The image remained in my mind, and, as I recall, I scored very well on the math exam.


Terpsichore said...

There was no corporal punishment in schools where I lived growing up...but I do recall clearly one time a substitute stating that corporal punishment ought to be brought back after being in our classroom a couple of days...

Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Now Hermione, may I enquire what "kind" of school this was, public or private or Catholic? I guess you'd have to go back to 50s to get actual spankings at schools.

PK said...

I live in the south and in the Bible belt and in our schools corporal punishment IS still allowed. It is rarely used and when it is, it is only used by the principal and with parents permission. It is not something I would ever use myself - ever. But at the same time I know the threat of it when I was in school kept me from getting into a lot of the mischief kids get into now. Somehow the teacher just fussing does not have the same effect.


Paul said...

Hermione, I'm in my seventies and a Brit.
Cp was used regularly in my schools, not so much on girls but scarcely a week went by without someone being caned or strapped.
In the orphanage it was a daily sight.
I won't draw any conclusions.
Warm hugs,

Indy said...


At least a dozen kinky Harry Potter readers with alternate universe fantasies must have found thrilling inspiration in the line, "Granger, I could spank you!"

Corporal punishment was on the books when I went to school in the South in the 70's and early 80's. My high school didn't use it in any systematic way; though there were one or two teachers who did, I felt mostly safe from it. The only time I was ever threatened, and it was quite public, I remember the embarrassment as much more powerful than any excitement I felt. I also backed down from the confrontation in a hurry.

Still, other people's stories were quite exciting. Once, when we teenagers locked ourselves away as usual at a holiday gathering, one of my cousins told paddling stories about his school. I found myself saying "I wish they did that at my school," and was called on it by a friend who observed that I would find myself on the receiving end if they did. I was slightly embarrassed by the slip of the tongue, but not nearly as embarrassed as I would have been if I'd understood what it meant!

I'm pretty sure I would have found the reality quite devastating, but knowing I was mostly, but not completely, safe from school punishment made it a very powerful fantasy.

Off to re-read the Harry Potter books to see if Granger ever answered incorrectly. Oh, never mind; of course she didn't!


Hermione said...

Terpsichore - Been there, done that, had that feeling!

Karl - They were public, Protestant schools. The Catholic system segregated boys and girls into separate schools. We also wore school uniforms.

PK - I agree, you do tend to tune out constant fussing!
I have visited Nashville, "The Buckle on the Bible Belt" we were told they called it, because of all the bibles published there.

Paul - It made you who you are today. That which does not kill us makes us stronger (and possibly a spanko too).

Indiana - LOL - alternate universe fantasies. I feel that way too, my alter ego being who she is.

I have read a story about Hermione getting caned by Snape. I'll try to find the link. Thanks for giving me a great idea for a future post!

Anonymous said...

Karl, not all school spankings ended in the fifties! LOL! I have an OH friend who says he was spanked in school a few times in the seventies! I also have a few other friends one in PA that says there was CP in the school he attended and he is a year or so younger than me! Another "younger" person than I also went to a TX school where she was paddled in school a few times as well.

I just went to the wrong school sicne there wasn't any CP in the school I attended either. Even now I think CP should be brought back into the schools since our young ones today are so out of control.

There was one incident that there were rumors a girl I knew got the paddle for something that she did. I am not sure if she ever got paddled but it was rumored she did. Most of the time when I got into trouble I was kept in at recess in the office in a corner. I do remember a nice wooden paddle hanging on the coat rack! Once I also remember the principal saying after seeing EVERY corner of the offices filled that there should be several spankings to go along with corner time. You can just imagine my thoughts on that one! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Well written, Miss Granger, but you've put all these licentious imaginings into your readers' minds and that SIMPLY WILL NOT DO! I will see you in my study promptly at six this evening. Don't bother wearing your knickers. The very idea!

-Prof. Devlin O'Neill


dwcmike said...

Interesting, how spanking has been a lifelong passion...

dwcmike said...

oops, meant to add: I was sent to the principals office and strapped on the hands by a teacher in high school.