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God Damned Schools have gone to Hell in a Handcart

It seems to me that part of the reason young people today are so woefully obtuse is that our education system has gone to hell in a handcart.

In my day, teachers knew that students learned best when they were stuck to their seats and that there was no better adhesive than fear. Discipline and learning went together like Noah and gopher wood – and a rap across the knuckles was as much a part of our schools as blackboards, dunce caps and historical revisionism.

We learned our ABCs while being mindful of our Ps and Qs and by the time we graduated high school every single one of us had learned how to spell properly, sum adequately, flinch reflexively and accept instruction with blind obedience.

We were scared of our instructors and rightly so. If I had ever sassed my old teacher, Mrs. Presswell, she would have taught me a lesson in polite behaviour by beating me bloody with a Bostitch desk stapler.

But today? Our schools are completely out of control. They’ve become half zoo, half prison and half roman orgy and I lay the blame squarely on a lack of instruction on basics like simple mathematics and an outrageous shortage of fear.

Students aren’t afraid of anything – least of all their teachers. And who can blame them? These days young Johnny’s free to dissect his frog and then turn his blade to his fellow classmates and a teacher dare not intervene for fear of stifling his creativity, facing disciplinary action or taking a 9mm “cap in the ass” as his reward. As far as I can see the best prerequisite to becoming an educator nowadays would be having prior experience as a bank hostage.

Students today are running amok. They descend on their schools like a Mongol horde and careen through the hallways screaming and fighting while piercing each other’s foreheads and thumbing their noses at authority. They aren’t reading The Lord of the Flies – they’re acting it out on a daily basis. It’s no wonder we’re churning out a generation of feral menaces – anarchy and sass have become our core curriculum.

This madness needs to end, damn it. The time has come to expel sloppy dress, bad attitudes and a culture of personal entitlement and bring back educational rigor, discipline, enforced civility and teachers that can well and truly scare the bejesus out of you.

As a nation, we’d be better off for it.

96 Comments leave one →
  1. MyRobbie permalink
    8:11 pm

    Am I first? I am! I’m first! Yay!

    I’m sorry, I just got excited. Hello, Mr. Mills! Lovely post! I concur wholeheartedly. I like the bit about the bank hostage, in particular.

    I wanted to only tell you that, for some reason that is completely unknown to me, my sister-in-law insists on writing my son’s name as Henery and not Henry. I find this astounding. Did she never take history? Did she never hear of those particular Shakespeare plays? It’s bizarre. She and I went to the same high school, though. I like to think that in the five years that passed between when I left and she started, that some sort of wholesale faculty/student labotomy program was introduced.

    Yours in indignation,

    MyRobbie

    • MyRobbie permalink
      8:13 pm

      lobotomy! Did I just invalidate my entire comment? Perhaps. In my defense, she has written Henery every time she wrote me anything (which is not often, I suppose) for the past three years. So. I still win.

    • MyRobbie permalink
      8:18 pm

      *sigh*

    • 12:24 am

      Thank you MyRobbie,

      First, second and third it would appear. Well done.

      I wouldn’t worry about the typo too much. I used to be quite rigorous in my spell checking but there is something about this damned internet that has caused me to become incredibly lax. My former editor, Charlie Goff, would have had my head.

      I’ve expressed concern about butchering common names before but this “Henery” nonsense really takes the cake. I’m sure your family are decent enough people but what the Hell are they labelling this lad with an extra E for? It does nothing to enhance the name and means the poor lad is going to have to spend his entire life correcting people on how to spell it. Honestly, it boggles the mind. I suspect that by the time he reaches 13 he’ll no longer be amused.

      My thanks for visiting, MyRobbie. As always, a pleasure to hear from you.

      Warm regards,

      Don

  2. 8:34 pm

    Well put! You sure got it 100% right…keep the great blog flowing! Your words are pure truth. I hope many will learn from you.🙂
    p.s. I recently laid bare my own rant at the school system which is why I homeschool!

    • 12:26 am

      Thank you kindly MetalQueenMum,

      I’ll have to pop over and give that a read. I must say your name alone has piqued my interest.

      All the best and thanks for stopping by.

      Don

  3. 8:53 pm

    The best teacher is experience. Painful, scary experience. You never mouthed off again after your father gave a shot with his backhand, you never sped down the highway after a cop gave you a taste of his billy club and you never slacked off in school after your teacher broke her thick wooden ruler over your head.

    • 12:41 pm

      Very true bmj2k,

      Thankfully my teacher was never able to break a ruler over my head. By the time I was in school she was already nearing the end of her career and could no longer muster the strength to actually snap the ruler in half when she landed it on your noggin. Still, it was the knowledge that she would try (and that she had succeeded in doing it in the past) that kept us in check. We sure as hell didn’t feel like we had some kind of prepubescent immunity to discipline.

      All the best, bmj2k, and thanks for visiting.

      Don

  4. 350fahrenheit permalink
    8:57 pm

    Damn straight Mr. Mills!

    I’m 25 and some of my friends can’t even tell me which way North is without their damn IPuke device. Makes me ashamed. Keep up the excellent work here.

    • 12:45 pm

      Thank you 250fahrenheit,

      I’m not in the least bit surprised. In my view, parents would be wise to take all those damned devices away from young people and give them a compass, a swiss army knife, a length of string and drop them off in the woods for a few days. It would do them a world of good. And, it would make my street a hell of a lot quieter too.

      Thanks for visiting,

      Don

  5. 9:02 pm

    I remember a kid getting spanked in the 4th grade for eating cherry Chapstick. I learned right then and there to stick with eating the school supplied paste and not switch to any newfangled Chapstick flavours. I’m better for it.

    • 12:52 pm

      Many thanks yellowcat,

      My brother, York, was a big paste eater. Still is actually.

      We all snacked on pencil ends, old rubbers and Elmer’s glue in my day. Tasty stuff and it made for a decent mid-morning snack. Nowadays, kids all have their lunch bags jammed full of treats and candies and lunches and other nonsense and wouldn’t appreciate the woody goodness of a decent number 2 pencil.

      Off topic but your Chapstick comment reminded me of this damned young person I saw in the drug store a while back. He was pulling the lids off all of the Chapsticks and “testing” them to see which one he liked best. I sorted him out but I swear to God he had no idea that what he was doing was moronic, offensive and disgusting as hell.

      Always nice to hear from you yellowcat. I trust you’re keeping well.

      Don

  6. Polish Spring permalink
    9:14 pm

    *sigh*
    Even with my permission (and expressed, written wish in favor) my child’s school refused to ever smack him upside the head for snickering in the classroom.
    Teachers indeed are a cowering lot under the litigious thumb of our crumbling system.

    • 1:02 pm

      Thank you Polish Spring,

      Thankfully your child is at least getting some structure and discipline at home.

      I’m not suggesting, of course, that every school child needs a whack with a ruler on a regular basis – just that the complete absence of fear, discipline and order has completely reversed the power balance in the classroom. And in my estimation, it’s difficult to respect the institution when your teacher isn’t allowed to give you so much as a strong look.

      All the best Polish Spring.

      Don

      • Sedate Me permalink
        3:13 pm

        Ah, the memories! Metre stick memories.

        How about the occasional blackjack or mace? No, not the spray kind. The good ol’ fashioned crowd control kind that kicks in at about the 6 minute mark of this film clip.

        I’d have said “SPOILER ALERT”, but I’m sure you probably still remember seeing this film when it was in the theatres.

        • 2:02 am

          Thanks SedateMe.

          I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a blackjack. They always looked like they were very effective and relatively easy to use.

          Can’t say I saw that film of yours. I was more of a Buster Keaton fan. I also didn’t see a female nipple in a moving picture until the late 1970s (and even that was accidental). An interesting clip but I do think it would have benefited from a few pratfalls or some pie tossing. Most films do.

          All the best,

          Don

  7. 9:22 pm

    Great post. I agree completely! Unfortunately, I attended these schools with no discipline and poor standards. So many of my classmates cannot spell or remember a simple math equation, I often wonder if we even attended the same school. I wish schools were as strict as they used to be. I think kids are getting dumber and ruder over the years, I hope this changes!

    • 1:14 pm

      Thank you Rachael,

      I hope it changes too. It’s time we stop lowering the bar and start raising our expectations of young people both academically and in the standard of their behavior.

      Many thanks,

      Don

  8. 10:12 pm

    I blame the school mascots. A weak mascot leads to a weak school which leads to weak students. Can I get an Amen?

    • 1:24 pm

      Thank you Makya McBee,

      Not in schools you can’t.

      I hadn’t considered the impact of weak mascots but I suppose there may be a case to make. I’d certainly think twice about going to a school where the mascot was “Sally the Domesticated Housecat” or “Wallace the earthworm.” It doesn’t inspire a hell of a lot of confidence.

      All the best,

      Don

  9. Woman permalink
    10:39 pm

    Here here!!!!!! As an educator in Inner Mongolia, China (Canadian living here NOT Chinese) I see some of the older teachers being as you said; strict with their students, and then I also see the younger teachers being more modern. And in this circumstance modern is “bleeding hearts”. Western Educators have no rights, it is the children who are not old enough to make informed decisions who have more rights than those in positions of authority.

    And this came about as a result of hyper sensitivity and fear. Oh, yes. And as a result of pussy footed politicians who seemed to have forgotten that respect, responsibility and consequences of ones actions makes for a better person. And as much as I do not beleive in any form of punishment through physical harm, there are so many other ways to remind students and children that they must behave.

    The touchy feely, bleeding hearts, pussy footed wankers of today’s Western societies, who as a result of such poor education; expect everything to be handed to them without having to work for it. And then these university drop outs, high school drop outs, complain bitterly that they cannot find work because all of my hard working students, with a very strong work ethic come to the West to seek employment.

    I mean come on. Who would you rather hire? Someone who is qualified for the job who has a desire to work and work hard? Or someone who is qualified for the job, but will only work the amount specified, demand their breaks, take their sick days due to being hung over and so much more.

    In this post Mister Mills; I agree with everything you have said. Excluding the rap on the knuckles that is. Rather keep them after school and make them write lines or something else where the educator takes away their free time. Sorry to have got carried away here, this is a topic that gets me so wound up quickly.

    I have no idea where I read it, but I was reading an article a long while ago about the Western world as it is today because they lack fear of punishment so do not care about the consequences. And this has happened because there is no longer any religious influence in modern society. It had me thinking, so I offer it to you as food for thought!!!

    Thank-you for this post, and sorry about the rant.
    w

    • Hanna permalink
      2:19 am

      How about you make this into a post, Mrs?🙂
      Thumbs up.

    • 1:50 pm

      Many thanks woman,

      No need to apologize for the rant – I quite enjoyed it and agreed with most every point you made. As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I don’t think that a ruler across the knuckles is the only means to achieving a more disciplined end (but it was certainly effective in my day). I’d be quite happy with alternate measures that achieve the same goal.

      You’ve summed the issue up nicely, woman, and I appreciate your taking the time to do so.

      All the best and thanks again.

      Don

  10. Truth permalink
    12:04 am

    I agree. I’ve heard of high school graduates that can barely spell their names, let alone do basic addition or subtraction. Yes, Facebook is nice to meet old friends and what not, but I doubt any legal company will hire a person just because of that.

    But seriously, what is with today’s school’s? Fear of punishment is what kept my generation in line, you’d think I’d work for the next one. We seldom ever got second chances and when you were in trouble, not only would your teacher call your parents, you would also be yelled at by the teacher.

    Hopefully the day won’t come to where bullet proof vests will be part of dress code and students will be required to pass several check points before entering the school. My generation may not be the best, but at least we learned early on what not to do and how experience and fear made for a great teacher.

    • Polish Spring permalink
      7:18 pm

      There is a simple solution for the math problem so common among youth. You hand the equation challenged child a $20.00, tell him to go get bread milk eggs, and that he gets to keep the change as his allowance. One time he makes a mistake and somehow it doesn’t happen again. Evil? Not if you don’t ask the child.
      Effective? Very much.

    • 8:18 pm

      Very well said Truth,

      I’d go one step further and suggest that proficiency with Facebook would be a great disincentive to having someone hire you. I’d be cautious in trusting my company secrets with anyone who doesn’t seem to be able to keep what they had for breakfast to themselves.

      I too hope that bullet proof vests don’t become the new school uniform. I somehow suspect, however, that teachers may require them before the students do. Regardless, either way it’s a rather grim thought.

      All the best and thanks for the comment.

      Don

  11. Sherryn permalink
    12:07 am

    Mr Mills, words of wisdom again. I feel sorry for teachers, they are picking up where parents have left off. Or more to the point, attempting to teach them things that were never taught by parents. RESPECT!! Hands up who knows how to get respect (from one’s children)? That’s right – GIVE RESPECT. When children are young listen to them, laugh with them, praise them for great, but usually impossible, ideas, treat them like the increcible human beings that they are. Don’t treat them as if they are annoying loud busy things which require daily depositing at daycare centres. They grow up caring for others, nourishing their friendships and respecting themselves and others. It ALL starts at home, it’s a hard one to fix.

    • 10:46 pm

      Many thanks Sherryn,

      I agree that good parenting is key. But I’d suggest that in addition to praise and encouragement, young people would also benefit from limits, structure and discipline.

      I think it would be fairly easy to fix – unfortunately I don’t anyone is particularly interested in doing the work.

      All the best,

      Don

  12. 12:25 am

    Dear Don,

    As a mom of a middle-school student, I would have never let any of his teachers smack or beat him. With all due respect, I do not trust them enough. I spent too many years in school to know better. Among wonderful, dedicated, hard-working teachers, there are always some that take their frustrations with their life, spouse or children on the students.They call them names, throw chairs around (a substitute teacher) and are just plain mean without any reason.

    Our of fear can come fear only!

    When I was in elementary school, our teacher was engaging, kind, supportive and strict as hell at the same time. We all loved her! Every day, we were thanking God for letting us be in her class and not in a different class with a witch alike lady, who would use the ruler on her students!

    Teachers’ job is very difficult. What a lot of parents seem to forget, that it is their primary responsibility to raise children, not school’s!

    Don, you are simply the best.

    Best,
    Your fan

    • 11:00 pm

      Thank you kindly fornormalstepfathers,

      Teachers do indeed have a difficult job – and I agree that it is made infinitely more difficult by parents feeling that the education has some sort of responsibility to raise in their children and not just teach them the 3Rs.

      My school did it’s job but the most important and lasting lessons I ever learned were at the hands of my old mom and dad.

      All the best, fornormalstepfathers. Always a pleasure to hear from you.

      Don

  13. 12:31 am

    Mr. Mills, I fall deeper in love with you, with every post you write. Your a God damned genius. ( Pardon my French. )

    You really need to consider running for Government office. Have you considered politics? You’ll certain have the senior vote, and that is HUGE.

    • 11:05 pm

      Many thanks livelaughliquor,

      Thank you for the very flattering comment. I’m sure my wife Aggie is rolling over in her grave at the use of the word “genius” though. Her favorite way to describe me was that I was “good from far but far from good.” I’ll stick to voting for the time being, livelaughliquor, but thanks for the vote of confidence.

      All the best,

      Don

  14. 1:15 am

    One of my indelible memories of my eight years at a parochial grade school was of Sister Angelica racing down the classroom aisle toward a misbehaving student, screaming “I’M GOING TO HIT YOU WITH MY FIST!!” And she did. And she maintained a marvelously well-behaved class, right up until her breakdown halfway through the year.

    • 11:12 pm

      Thank you Bilbo,

      I’ll have to remember that phrase. It’s so exacting and has a level of focus hat appeals to me. Plus, it’s rather amusing.

      Poor Sister Angelica. You must have been a hell of a class – it takes a lot to break a Nun.

      Appreciate the comment, Bilbo.

      Best regards,

      Don

  15. 1:22 am

    Dear Don,

    I was not informed of your return. This distresses me terribly! How much have I missed? I do not enjoy being the last to know things. (It comes of being the youngest of eight and I am still working out that bit of existential holdover from my youth.) Please, don’t go away again unless you plan on checking out of the Big Hotel. My nerves thank you in advance.

    More to the topic: I am informed that a very young boy recently saved himself and his sister from a moose attack by using skills he learned in World of Warcraft video gaming. I ask you, sir, which skill set could our public school educators have provided for such an unforeseen contingency? An apology to the Moose for being in its personal space?

    No, it’s too easy to see that the only real skills the youngster may have found useful would have been to sigh loudly and whine pitifully as though the moose were so much extra social studies home work.

    Fondly, I remain

    Yours truly,

    -Joan

    • 3:56 pm

      How very nice to hear from you Joan,

      I must say I’m fascinated by the notion of this lad using skills learned in a video game to avoid a moose attack. I may need to rethink the value of these games as I was under the impression that the only things they actually taught young people were how to kill virtual aliens from the comfort of your parent’s basement while stuffing your face with cheese puffs.

      I agree that schools would be no place to learn about how to deal with an angry moose. Their suggested approach might be to use a restorative justice model and allow the boy to express his feelings at being threatened while trying to get to root cause of what was causing the Moose to behave in such an aggressive manner in the first place. A nice theory but perhaps not too practical when you’re staring down 800lbs of angry Bullwinkle.

      All the best Joan and thanks for visiting.

      Don

  16. Wayne permalink
    3:32 am

    Screw u dipwade!!! This is time you”ve even gone too far then you do most others times usully. First of i go to scool well i did when I was going to scool befor i dropped out scool and stopped going too scool but that”s not my point anyways. you haven”t been their so how do you know to say it’s the way you say it is anyways in the frst place???? Ever herd of going to scool nad lerning abot it beofe you judge me? Your worse then my dad. I bet your skin is gross to. Plus you spelt mongrill wrong. My buddy Guntar is going to go back to get his grad 12 after dropping out for ten years and first you say he shuld go to scool and then you say he shudn”t because you say its something he shun”t do. You relly need to make up your mnd you hippo-crite.

    • nicole permalink
      10:02 am

      I could not stop laughing while reading your comment^^

    • 4:53 pm

      Thank you Wayne,

      I must say I’m surprised by your passion for formal education. I had always pictured you as more of the “everything I ever needed to know I learned while boosting a car with my buddy” type of fellow. My apologies if I’ve misjudged you.

      Now that I think about it, however, your combination of flatulent indignation, lack of comprehension and stunning inability to frame a cohesive thought may in fact make you the poster child for the American school system.

      There may be a future for you here, Wayne, and an opportunity for you to “give something back.” I see you being taken around the country in a small van and being trotted out at political rallies on a short leash to be used as a cautionary tale on the dangers of educational under-funding and the need for standardized testing. I can almost hear the gasps from the crowd as you take the stage, flash a vacant grin and then deftly count to three with your left foot. (I’d recommend you begin practicising immediately)

      You may be just the impetus this country needs to wake the hell up and start smacking some sense into young people.

      Please give this some thought, Wayne. While I know you are intent on a career as an air conditioner, I think you may have a larger destiny before you.

      Best regards,

      Don

      p.s. I regret any hippo-critical comment. I’ll admit to being hippie-critical but have always believed myself to be very “pro-hippo” and supportive of semi-aquatic mammals in general. They’re cute as hell.

  17. 4:54 am

    you’re being ridiculous, don. there are no kids in school today named johnny. now they’re all named scout or dallas or serpico.

    • 5:02 pm

      Thank you Nonnie.

      You’re quite correct of course. My apologies. An obvious (and rather ridiculous) mistake on my part.

      All the best,

      Don

  18. 6:53 am

    Having felt the wrath of nuns in grade school, and the Brothers of St Patrick in high school, I can without a doubt confirm the rumor that had we sent them into Afghanistan, the war would have been over in one English period, and one recess. Plus the vanquished would have had way better manners as well.

    • 5:03 pm

      Many thanks Jammer,

      Very true! Thanks for the chuckle, lad. I needed that.

      All the best,

      Don

  19. 8:39 am

    Hi Don.

    I loved this blog. But lets face it… I pretty much love everything you write.

    In terms of the problem with schools? I think there are good teachers, good kids and good parents. And then there are teachers, kids and parents who could really benefit from getting their heads out of their asses and learn to live by the golden rule. Sadly though, this concept of treating others how you like to be treated seems like a foreign concept in many homes and classrooms. That’s why I yanked my kids out of school. Subjecting them to idiot teachers and kids who felt entitled to treat them whatever the hell way they wanted, especially when I do my best to ensure my kids behave respectfully, was a bit more than I could take.

    One day, after my daughter (gr.1) had endured continual torture from the boy next to her at the lockers, I informed her teacher that I had given my daughter permission to do anything necessary to protect herself from the boy and that it was likely going to result in the boy getting a beating. I told her I was OK with it and that I figured if no one was going to teach the boy about respect, it was time to play hard ball. My daughter kicked his little ass and I was happy about it. Sad that the solution had to be so barbaric, but when dealing with neanderthals, sometimes you have to stoop down a level. And that is just ONE example… don’t get me started on my son’s amazing grade 4 teacher who thought it would motivate him to get his math done by holding all the kids in at recess until he finished. Yeah…the genius failed to realize that my son would have to pay the price for her brilliant plan on the playground. Oh and this all happened AFTER I explained that my son was going through an extremely difficult time as a result of our divorce. Her inability or lack of desire or whatever it was that prevented her from putting herself in my son’s shoes was something I still can’t wrap my brain around. Anyway, nowadays, the only torture my kids have to endure are my lectures about the golden rule.

    Living by the golden rule…that’s my solution to the problem…however unrealistic it is. Thanks for letting me rant Don…I have little tolerance for injustice.

    Oh and by the way, you mentioned having an editor. Can you tell me where I can get my hands on more of your writing please?

    • 8:43 am

      Oh… this rant was provided by Joyce of ADIGI books, not Dana. I wouldn’t want to pin it on her. Thanks again Don.

    • 1:24 am

      Many thanks Joyce,

      Quite a fine rant and I appreciate your taking the time to share it with me. I fully agree with your assessment that if people were more conscious of the Golden Rule and more inclined to live by it, the world would be a better place. Sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

      At the risk of sounding like a dinosaur I applaud your daughter taking matters into her own hands and kicking that damned ruffian’s ass. In my view there is always going to be a small percentage of the population that don’t seem to learn a lesson any other way.

      It sounds like your kids are in good hands, Joyce. Well done.

      All the best and thanks for taking the time to share your views,

      Don

      p.s. The editor I referenced was one I worked with in goverment many, many years ago. So unless you have an interest in dusty memos, ambigious correspondence and inconclusive reports there really is nothing more I can share.

      • 4:53 pm

        Hi Don,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment. As much as I love your writing, dusty memos, ambiguous correspondence and inconclusive reports really wasn’t what I had in mind. I used to work for the government myself and have written my own share of similar documents and I am very happy those days are behind me. I was actually hoping you were going to tell me about a memoir you had published or something similar. Now there’s a book I would buy.

        By the way, your reply to “Wayne’s” post made my day. Another home run Don.

        Thanks again.
        Joyce

  20. 12:20 pm

    When I was in school the teacher had a paddle with holes in it. Supposed to make it more aerodynamic or something like that.

    Now schools can’t spank. As if a spanking will hurt a child. No spanking in the long run will potentially ruin their life.

    • 1:26 am

      Thank you Mel,

      Interesting enhancement to the standard paddle. You obviously had some forward thinking educators in your school.

      All the best and thanks for stopping in. Always nice to hear from you.

      Don

  21. misswhiplash permalink
    12:41 pm

    No doubt about it Don, you always write a good controversial post and this is no exception.
    I no longer have children at school, but when they were there standards were slipping then and that was 40 odd years ago, Now standards are a lot worse,as you say mainly due to bad parental control pre-school and bad teachers in school. Most of the problem stems from lack of discipline. Teachers are no longer allowed to hit or chastise the little darlings. Nowadays kids have the upper hand and they know it.
    I got rapped over the hands with a ruler for eating sweets in class. I did not enjoy the experience so it was never repeated.

    BRING BACK THE BIRCH!!!!!

    • 1:29 am

      Thank you misswhiplash,

      Very true. Damned young people do know they have the upper hand and they play it for all it’s worth. We’ve gutted schools and teachers of any real authority and put all of the power in the hands of the students. And then we wonder why educational standards are slipping and we’re falling behind the rest of the god damned world. It drives me to distraction.

      Many thanks for visiting.

      All the best,

      Don

  22. 2:58 pm

    I’m close to your age, so you know I totally agree. NOT only did we fear our teachers, but we feared our parents when we stepped out of line. Remember those long walks home with the D or F on the report card? Made you want to run away from home. It’s totally lost on the current school age population. And it’s the parents fault. “Wait ’til your father gets home.” means that dinner is on its way. Let’s play sissy soccer and not keep score so no one will lose. It’s a joke.

    • 1:32 am

      Thank you O. Leonard.

      “Wait til your father gets home means that dinner is on the way.” I wish I had come up with that – it’s perfect. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I seem to remember a neighbor telling me of a school were children didn’t “fail” they just “deferred success.” How ridiculous is that?

      All the best O. Leonard. Hope to hear from you again.

      Don

  23. 3:15 pm

    Our junior-high science teacher, Mr. Gauthier, liked to sneak up on students who weren’t paying attention (or were just plain sleeping), and smack their desks with a yardstick. He had masterful control – he could get about 1/8″ from your face without actually hitting you.

    The worst offenders graduated grade school very nervous fellows, easily startled by loud noises.

    All but one brave, albeit incorrigible boy. In 8th grade he made his science fair project, a mouse maze, out of Mr. Gauthier’s broken yardsticks. Everyone thought it was a great joke. Except Mr. Gauthier.

    • 1:37 am

      Thank you pegoleg,

      I swear to god that your Mr. Gauthier must have been related to a certain Mr. Holloran I had back in high school. He was a master of the yardstick too. Would have put one of those damned “ninjas” the young people are always going on about to shame.

      I like the sound of that incorrigible boy. Cheeky as hell, no doubt about that, but full marks for imagination.

      All the best pegoleg.

      Warm regards,

      Don

  24. Sedate Me permalink
    3:33 pm

    There’s little difference between some of the schools in my local Duckburg and some of the prisons.

    They are big, cold, institutional places run by wardens and full of criminals. They are surrounded by impenetrable fences and have cameras watching them all the time. Yet there are still plenty of drugs to be found, illicit sex to be had, and violence can still break out at any moment. They also have a little in-house “school” which is pathetic in quality, but it keeps them occupied.

    It’s pretty clear there is only one future that schools are preparing their students for. To be honest, it’s not that unrealistic a vision of their future.

    • Polish Spring permalink
      7:56 pm

      There is not much of a difference between prison and work, either.
      And it is all for your own good, I tell ya!

      I’ll give you a close to my own heart example of stellar workplace discipline: I work in a place where the chief listens to and records all calls. And rightfully so, as it was clearly stated at the meeting; you’re at work, your time and calls are their property. It is done so that no bad seed affects their matrix field.
      Also checking your phone call reports, reviews of web traffic tied to your IP address – all in the name of employee’s safety. Naturally.
      The policy already forbids carrying cell phones during work hours, so that poor innocent workbees aren’t affected with some emergency call from family.
      And employees clock in and out so if you’re an evil entity and arrive 1 minute (not exaggeration) late, you’re a subject to disciplinary action, and then termination.
      All of it is to protect those unsuspecting gray masses from sliding down into immorality, naturally. There is also a diligent habit of sneaking up on employees to assure proper work ethic.
      Nothing says “trust, respect & professionalism” as all of the care for your employee’s whereabouts and doings in such a consistent manner.
      Warms my cockles.
      PS. I hail from a formerly communistic republic, which has also shown inquisitive affection in such wonderful way.

      • Sedate Me permalink
        1:31 pm

        Yeah, the Cold War is over. The forces of oppression won.

    • 1:46 am

      Thank you SedateMe,

      It’s very true. Schools are looking more and more like prisons every day. And not those nice low security prisons they send white businessmen to.

      Day care centres are little better and nursing homes are even worse. Seems like if you put your mind to it you can breeze through your entire life in some form of institution. Cheery thought.

      All the best SedateMe. Always good to hear from you, lad. I trust you’re keeping well.

      Don

      • Anonymous permalink
        2:15 pm

        I’ve suffered a few more strokes than an average year so far, sir. But I’m working to “reduce my stressers”, as my Doc says.

      • Sedate Me permalink
        2:27 pm

        That was me, sir. Not sure what happened there. Another stroke maybe.

  25. Dr Tim permalink
    10:12 pm

    Dear Don

    In my view things started to go wrong when they stopped using chalkboards: a well aimed chalk board eraser was a fearful weapon in the teacher’s armoury, as many of my erstwhile classmates could affirm.

    Best regards

    Dr T

    • 2:04 am

      Thank you kindly Dr. Tim,

      As one who was hit with a piece of chalk a number of times (and, on one occasion, a chalk eraser) I can attest to the fact that when thrown properly they can be quite painful, very humiliating and sting like hell.

      Best regards,

      Don

  26. 5:20 am

    In the past, I’ve worked as a substitute teacher, for a total of six years. So I definitely know what you’re talking about!

    I started out with all grades–but eventually had to narrow it down to grades 1 – 5, because so many students in the middle and high schools were impossible to manage–and I’m a 6′ 3″ tall man, with a very large build and loud voice! The problem was simple: I wasn’t a babysitter, I really wanted to teach (following the absent teacher’s day-plan, and improvising if he/she hadn’t left one)–and the older kids resented a substitute who actually intended to teach them! But the main problem was with the administration. Any student disrupting the class I sent to the principal’s office, right away–and the principal just sent him/her back! I even remember taking a discipline referral form to the principal’s office after the school day–and the secretary just read it, and laughed! At one high school, the football team was pampered to the point that they could do anything they wanted. So they disrupted class beyond belief–crawling in and out the windows, everything! And they had the principal wrapped around their finger. He always sent them back to class of course. And finally, one day he walked into the classroom and told me to leave, because I “could not control [my] class!” As I recall, I told him I couldn’t do my job because he wouldn’t do his!

    The short-term reason there’s so much crime in this country is that the death penalty is almost never used. The long-term reason is that children are allowed (and even encouraged) to grow up to be criminals!

    • 2:10 am

      That’s a very disheartening story, Scott.

      It’s a real shame that we’re driving teachers out of the classroom. We should be giving them the tools they need to get the job done, not undermining them at every turn.

      All the best and thanks for sharing that with me.

      Don

  27. 2:03 pm

    Don,

    You’ll be happy to know that the “rap across the knuckles” is still very much a part of our school system. Only now it’s more like a “wrap across the knuckles”. Or “rap across the knuckles”. (either/or)

    Maybe we just need to teach kids about homophones?

    • 2:18 am

      Thank you Bschooled,

      My god! Is that meant to be jewellery or just a particularly audacious pair of knuckle dusters? I’ll honestly never understand young people these days…

      All the best,

      Your friend,

      Don

      p.s. I believe teachers prefer not to reference homophones in class. It just results in all manner of immature giggling, chortling and asinine jokes.

  28. 5:44 pm

    I don’t know what is worse: A teacher not being allowed to discipline or a teacher not being allowed to teach. Schools in New York State are not allowed to teach new lessons on any religious holiday (even if nobody in the school observes that religion.) Half of the school year is spent reviewing because there’s always a religious holiday. What makes me mad is that there is always a test on Vanna White’s birthday.

    • 2:21 am

      Thank you Ahmnodt,

      That’s a subject for a whole other post. (Not the Vanna part, the religious holidays part. The Vanna part is just rather odd to me).

      Always good to hear from you lad.

      All the best,

      Don

  29. 7:27 pm

    Amen.
    My husband and I are both teachers. And we totally agree. Our sides are aching from laughter.

    Thank you for your amazing blog.

    • 2:22 am

      Thank you threelittletrees.

      I appreciate the kind words. Always nice to hear from an educator. Please pass my best regards on to your husband.

      All the best and thanks again.

      Don

  30. Carine permalink
    9:15 pm

    Hi Don, I am sorry to say that once again, you are right ; ) Thank you for pointing out a international problem -although, I think the US are worse off with this situation.
    My young son goes to an Educate Together School; in Ireland, it’s a multi-denominational establishment and an alternative to the traditional Catholic national school system. Ethos such as equality and civility amongst others, are taught as well as the standard curriculum. It is child- centered and allows different approach to teaching. I am really happy to have chosen this school for him as I think its values are important and should be part of all communities.

    • 7:42 pm

      Many thanks Carine,

      You’re very fortunate. I didn’t think civility was even on the radar at schools any more.

      All the best,

      Don

  31. 11:25 pm

    Darn tootin, Don! We’ve renamed recess at my kids’ school Lord of the Flies. I remember a time when we kids would tone down our bad behavior if an adult sauntered by. Strangers would not hesitate to scold a kid if they thought their language or behavior were out of line. No more. Nowadays, that foul-mouthed nine-year-old might just be packing heat.

    • 7:44 pm

      Thank you quirkyculture,

      A very fine point. There was a time when damned young people would at least hold their filthy tongues until I’d passed (and I mean passed in the sense of walking by, not dying) but these days they just carry on and glare at you as if defying you to stop them.

      Shameful.

      All the best,

      Don

  32. 11:55 am

    After scrolling through 20,000 comments, I am not sure my wheel finger is still capable of typing a comment. So all I’ll say is I shared to Facebook and Twitter, those terrible vices of modern youth.

    • 7:45 pm

      Thank you Team Oyeniyi,

      Long comments this week. Obviously a subject of concern to a good number of folks.

      Thanks for spreading the word. I do appreciate it.

      Best regards,

      Don

  33. 3:55 pm

    Laughed out loud as usual! I remember being afraid of the principle and that sure did help keep most of us in line.

    • 3:14 pm

      Many thank you Heidi,

      The Principal really should be the ultimate authority figure. “Go the principal’s office” should carry the same weight and inspire the same amount of dread as the phrase “wait until your father gets home.”

      All the best Heidi and thanks for stopping in.

      Don

  34. 6:11 pm

    Dear Sir,

    Writing as an educator of 25 years experience, I am afraid that I do not completely agree with your suggestions.
    They do not go far enough.
    To save our planet, our culture and most importantly, the value of my imminent pension, I would suggest the following steps.
    1. Allow teachers to carry weapons. None of your mealy mouthed metre sticks as was mentioned by one of your left leaning liberal commentators, but at least a 9mm. I prefer the 0.50″ Desert Eagle, but each to their own.
    2. Shackle the little sods to their desks at the beginning of the day. No more toilet or lunch breaks. This will also help train them in bladder control, a vital skill in today’s highly competitive workplace.
    3. Ban all extra-curricular activities, as they are obviously enjoying themselves too much. School isn’t supposed to be about fun, it’s supposed to be about learning.
    4. If they cannot pass a simple spelling and math test by the time they’re 18, then they should be automatically, with no chance to appeal, be sent to the Army who can use them as self-propelled mine detectors.

    Yours sincerely

    TSB (Captain, RA Retired)

    Sorry about the nom de plume old chap, but some of these loony liberals might object to some of my sensible suggestions, and I’ve got to protect my pension for the Memsahib and myself.

    • Sedate Me permalink
      1:43 pm

      If you can’t use a metre stick to sever the head of an unruly student before he fires his weapon, you don’t deserve to be a teacher. Guns are crutches for those who can’t teach youth to sit quietly out of fear.

      • 11:04 am

        I believe you miss the point Sedate Me. The idea is to cause TOTAL FEAR and DOMINATION in the little angels. Of course I can take one of their heads off with a metre stick, but where’s the challenge in that.

        If you can cause them to lose control of their bowels in sheer terror, armed only with a whiteboard marker and a set-square, then you know you have arrived as a teacher.

        • Sedate Me permalink
          3:24 pm

          No, I think I may have gotten your point better than you did.

          You suggested arming teachers with guns. If you need a gun to dominate these brats, you’ve lost the war a long, long, time ago. They should live in total fear of you, but not because of the weapon you carry. Resorting to a gun smacks of weakness & desperation. It can trigger an arms race. If they think that the only way you can control the room is with a gun, then those 30+ brats can bring their own guns to school and win with superior firepower. These little shits are not remotely afraid of guns. They use them to close a door or turn off a TV.

          They need to know that you don’t need guns, that YOU are the weapon. They need to know you can instantly turn a metre stick, a piece of chalk, a brush, a pencil, a paperclip, a textbook, a bottle of glue, an eraser, a loose floor tile, or even the apple the brown-noser gave you, as lethal weapons. They must think that you’re willing to pluck out your own eye, wrap the nerves and vessels around their necks and strangle them with it.

          You must be a ninja master in their eyes, someone willing and able to attack with lightning speed and for slightest of provocation (ie a spelling error). Only then will total fear and domination take place. Only then will they listen and learn.

          Metre stick training should be mandatory because there’s always that one wise guy who thinks he can take you and then take over the class. But apart from taking out that wise guy, preferably by making an early “example” of him, metre sticks should just sit there…waiting…waiting for you to turn it into a lethal weapon.

          Now THAT’S what teaching is all about!

          • 8:07 am

            You’re scary.
            Have you tried Whisky? Valium? Lobotomy? and as a last resort for you poor bloody yanks, Therapy.

            Dear God (if such a fantastic being exists) why do you lot insist that hatred is bad. Revel in it. Shoot the Therapists, bloody lot of nosey interfering parkers.
            If you’ve got problems, talk to your partner/wife/friends/barman.

  35. 3:10 pm

    Many thanks Twisted Scottish Bastard,

    Sorry for the delay in responding but I’m glad to see that you and SedateMe have been having a nice chat in my absence.

    I don’t particularly want to interfere in your debate about arming teachers but do feel that SedateMe makes a fair point when he indicates that teachers need to be able to take control without the aid of automatic weaponry.

    I can’t help but feel that if a culture of control, respect and discipline is established early on (ideally before grade 4 when the average child is 6’3″ and 225lbs) there shouldn’t be any need to be pistol whipping or ass-capping by the time they reach the higher grades. By that point, they should already have been well-trained in the concept of fear and a steely glance should be more than enough to quiet even the most scurrilous reprobate in the group. Still, as you have some considerable experience in the trenches, I’m not inclined to write off your suggestion entirely. I consider myself fortunate that I have not been in a classroom for many decades.

    I wonder too, however, if the same logic applies to shackling them to their desks. In an ideal world they wouldn’t need physical shackles but, rather, would restrain themselves – knowing full well that if they wander, fiddle or squirm about unduly their behaviour will be addressed swiftly and concisely. I admit that, though, that physically locking them down does have the benefit of preparing them nicely for their future careers and livelong inmates in our penal system.

    Many thanks for the comment Twisted Scottish Bastard. I appreciate your stopping in and do hope to hear from you again.

    All the best,

    Don

    • 6:44 pm

      “I can’t help but feel that if a culture of control, respect and discipline is established early on (ideally before grade 4 when the average child is 6’3″ and 225lbs) there shouldn’t be any need to be pistol whipping or ass-capping by the time they reach the higher grades.”

      I totally agree.

      Writing as a High School teacher, it’s all the fault of those namby-pamby, who wants a sweetie, let’s all have a group hug, Primary School teachers. By the time students come in to our control, it’s too late. They’re all soft and corrupt, and actually want to have fun all day long.

  36. 2:50 am

    Brilliant, sir! I completely agree with you. I look at my generation (I’m 28) and those younger than me, and all I can do is shake my head and fear for the future of this country.

  37. 3:13 am

    Hi Don,

    Great post and you are absolutely right! However, I did want to let you know that there are still some of us (myself included) who put up with no shenanigans, guff, backtalk, foolishness, laziness or asinine behavior from our students. We may not be great in number, but we strongly believe that children need to actually learn how to be a functional human being, not to mention the fundamentals of respect, while they’re in this state mandated concrete block. We need all the support we can get!

    Mallory

  38. 3:37 pm

    Three halves do not make a whole, so I can’t speak to your having learned basic math skills, but I agree with most of the rest of what you say. Where have you been all my life?

  39. Melia permalink
    12:25 am

    Wonderful article. But what can we do to fix this?

    I was thinking about having a t-shirt made that say my parents beat me, my school beat me, even my neighbor’s beat me. And I turned out to be a CEO.

  40. Logan permalink
    2:22 pm

    George Carlin. Nobody said it better:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGL8FEMc378

  41. Jim permalink
    10:01 pm

    You are a disgusting old bastard and you need to get the fuck off your high horse and stop judging everyone just because you are a stupid bitter dumbass. Honestly, I hate old people like you that look down on young people just because they are younger and smarter than you. You are ancient history buddy so get with the times and stop acting like you know everything

  42. Jim permalink
    10:03 pm

    Fuck you old bastard.

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