Discipline and that Darn War Injury


My health class teacher in middle school, which was then called “boys hygiene” had some nicely effective although now politically incorrect punishments for misbehavior. Both of his main punishments involved a yard stick. The first had you holding a book in the palm of your hand at shoulder height and every time it dropped getting swatted ( not very hard) with the yard stick. The second was drawing a circle on the black board (yes they were black and made of slate) just slightly higher than the end of your nose causing you to have to stand on tip toes to get your nose into it. The results of falling out of the circle were roughly the same as letting the book drop. If you were really bad you got two books one in each hand at shoulder level. I am surprised that Mr. Nic never tried two books and your nose in the circle. Incidentally if your saying to yourself what’s the big deal about a book at shoulder level… give your teenager a yard stick, let them play teacher and try it! You won’t like it after about 30 seconds.

I spent the second semester of my senior year every day after lunch working in the boy’s advisor’s office at my high school. Before schools had aides and when there was only one secretary (now the office manager) students often filled the roles now assigned to aides or additional secretaries. Students worked in the office, monitored the halls, and worked safety patrol in elementary buildings. My senior year I was done with high school credits after the first semester (not well done, but done none the less) and students rarely graduated early then so I was working in the boy’s advisor’s office doing filing and, as a senior( which used to really mean something), keeping the office under control when the boys advisor (nice euphemism for disciplinarian) was not there. The boy’s advisor was a nice guy, World War II vet with a dead arm that normally just hung at his side motionless (ala Bob Dole). That arm however was an extremely accurate, proficient weapon in his job as discipline enforcer. He would occasionally swing his whole body twisting at the waist so that the arm came out of nowhere like a chunk of cord wood, “accidentally” striking a recalcitrant student followed by a profuse apology, delivered with a glittery smile, for his inability to control that darn war-injured arm. It should be noted that he was an exceedingly fair man and not prone to frequent or unnecessary corporal punishment. It was a different world then and effectiveness almost always trumped correctness, actions did speak louder than words, and the choice to directly disobey an adult’s orders in school was always fraught with multiple dangers. Particularly ignoring the words of an injured war vet who might choose to “advise” you.

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About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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