Miseries of School: An Ongoing Anthology of Accounts, True and Fictitious

Cathbad

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I had some great teachers, and a couple of bad ones. But, although I had bad instances outside of school, but my in-school life was pretty good. :)
 

Extollager

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Thanks, Parson!

Moderators, would it be possible to add to the thread title? It could read something like this:

Miseries of School: An Ongoing Anthology of Accounts, True and Fictitious
 

Scookey

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In my secondary school, there were two pupil streams: basically high and low. I had been moved to the high so new a guy from the low when he came into our classroom to ask for a signature from the teacher. Many laughed at his not shining intelligence as he left but I knew he was a guy with a good heart and all they were doing for me was showing how unkind and shallow they were. :-(
 

Parson

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Perhaps the most remembered moment of my elementary school years was a movie. I went to a very small elementary school (about 25-30 per grade and even that was a step up from the one room school house in which I began my education.) About 1958 (when I was 8) one of the students in the school had a birthday and his father arranged for a theater movie to be shown in school. --- I haven't a clue how such was managed back then. --- We rarely had Educational movies so this was a red letter day. The whole school gathered in the gymnasium and watched a kind of Swiss Family Robinson style story. There was a scene in that movie that still effects me to this day. The older brother (14?) was helping his sister to catch a pretty butterfly that in the course of the chase got caught in a spider's web. As the boy was tearing it out, a huge spider drops down and bites him in the neck. He very nearly dies. ---- I rarely see a spider today that I don't think about that scene. ---- I've often wondered if that movie was age appropriate and if I would be less scared of spiders if I hadn't been exposed to it.
 

BigBadBob141

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I vividly remember a teacher in my old school, he was an ex - copper, stood well over six feet tall, and was built like a brick out house!
One day in a lesson a boy was sent in who had done something bad, what I have no idea, he just picked him up and shook him like a rat!!
This was back in the sixties, and could never happen today, am not saying he was bad!!
He wasn't, he was a good and fair teacher, and maybe scared the boy straight, but now days he would never be given the chance to do that.
 

Extollager

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Thanks for that anecdote. It reminded me of a memory I'm not sure is trustworthy. It seems to me that one of my teachers had a paddle or even oar on the wall that was understood to be an instrument of corporal punishment. Holes had been drilled in the paddle to reduce air resistance during its movement from above the teacher's shoulders to its destination on the pupil's buttocks. But I'm not sure the memory is accurate in all respects, nor am I sure that paddle was ever actually used. It might have been placed there in our sight like the dead dog in Kipling's "Strange Ride of Morrowbie Jukes," as an in terrorem measure that was not, perhaps, effective.
 

sknox

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Oh heck, I got those. My 7th grade teacher used a wooden yardstick, which laughs at wind resistance and has a nice flex to it. He didn't use it on girls, but the boys did pushups while being whacked. I don't recall it ever being terribly painful. Then again, I also recall being advised by a classmate to invest in a wallet. :)

My eighth grade teacher had a different technique. She could hit just about any student in the classroom from a distance. Her projectiles of choice were chalk or eraser, which in those days were always ready to hand for a teacher.

I don't remember anyone being outraged by any of this, nor traumatized by it. We were unruly, disobedient, ungrateful, and regularly disruptive. I'm sure logic and sweet reason were attempted by every teacher, but ... well ... I did mention the grade level, right?

Here's one other anecdote; one which I regard as significant. I was a terrible student in public school. I wasn't often disruptive, but I was often defiant and utterly disengaged. In the waning months of my senior year I would often simply get up and walk out of class to go do something more interesting (which included walking, breathing, and blinking). Many other students were somewhere along the disrespectful-disinterested line.

That was in the spring. In the fall, I went to college. Nothing much, just a local community college. One of the first things I noticed was a near-miraculous transformation. Those students who a few months ago constituted a discipline problem so chronic and grave as to occasion regular meetings of adults, were now polite and attentive. They did their work. At first I supposed this was only that the discipline problems simply never went to college but then again, *I* was one of those problems. And here I sat, taking notes, doing the assignments. The teachers were no more brilliant. The subject matter had not suddenly become interesting. We can't have grown up in a matter of three months.

I'll leave it to others to consider causes.
 

Extollager

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sknox, I sympathize with you and your teacher(s) about your public school career.

I wonder when outright brutality, teacher-to-student, in most American and British schools.

My mom mentioned occasionally something I don't remember, in which, around second grade, I was rapped on the pate by a teacher with a metal bracelet. Probably I wasn't paying attention. Her name was Mrs. Cassinelli or Casanelli, but I don't remember what she looked like -- not even sure what the town was.

Aside from that, I don't remember receiving any what I'd call corporal punishment, and I'm not sure I remember any other kid getting that, either.

At my wife's school, the kids were not allowed to use the restroom during between-class breaks. They had to ask during class time. (Her memory is that kids could not use the restroom during lunch break. Maybe they could if they asked.) She knew of a girl who didn't manage to make one gym requirement and was held back from high school graduation, having to make it up during the summer. That must have been embarrassing.

When I was a student in Town X, there was a girl (SC) who was the kids' criterion for homeliness. I moved to Town Y and it was RG at one time and DA at another (or perhaps this was concurrent). Later I taught high school and it was MH. Kids could be rotten about such things. The most recent of these occurrences is about 40 years ago, and if I remember, what must it have been, and be, like for them?
 
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sknox

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You bring up a good point. For all the stories about terrible teachers doing terrible things (and there are plenty because ... mass education), the things kids do to each other can pretty well match story for story.
 

-K2-

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The following took place approx. 1971-'72 in a rural Smokey Mtn. school district in E. Tennessee (I'm hesitant to name the school or community in that I 'hope' it has changed). It is an unpleasant and long (condensed) accounting (though much of it will be vague), so base your decision to continue reading knowing that. School specific aspects (in that a lot of associated information is required) are in bold.

A girl, "X," of 7 or 8, had never attended school. She had three times (partial days by three women) been forcibly (via threats to X's father) been taken by some of the women from one of the local churches to their homes over the two years prior, 'doing their "good deeds"' which cost X terribly. Otherwise, X had never left the farm. So, their next idea was to have the Sheriff demand that X's father let her be taken to school.

By that age, X did not speak, yet being an excellent mimic she knew a few words. All of those words were the only ones she ever had said to her by her father, and they were the most vulgar profanities. She did not have a name (her father only called her those crude terms), or a birth certificate and X's taught responses when she thought she was in trouble were unacceptable in any society. X had never seen a book, a magazine, heard a radio, or seen a TV. She had only been exposed to her father and his 'friends' which would bring him liquor.

The first day she was taken to school by the constable, she had not bathed in some time, and only had one of her father's old shirts to wear, nothing else and no shoes. When she arrived at school, she discovered (all determined in retrospect years later), that the teacher did not want her there, nor the school district and all of the other children had been told by the teacher (assumed) who likely had been informed by their parents to not let them interact with her.

(this is where you need some cultural background... X's father was known as a drunk that had never held a job or worked his farm. The girl that bore X, snuck off within hours of X's birth, because X's father was abusive to unfathomable degrees. With X's mother gone, that abuse was levied on X, and the entire community knew all of that. X's father was what was called "white trash," also being a drunk, and known to be violent, sadistic and abusive, he was shunned by the community. What made it worse was X's mother was full blooded Native American. So, X is what was called a 'half-breed,' which was considered the lowest of the low racially in a community of unapologetic racists.

What that translates to is as you might suspect, due to what X was, her father was, and the abuse she experienced, no one wanted their children exposed to her (to protect their own children))

X was shown to a chair in the back corner of the class and told "she could sit there" a solid 15' away from the other children. X through habit slipped off the chair and moved under a table in the corner, sitting on the floor facing the corner and remained there until the end of the day. The day ended with the teacher giving the constable a note to give to her father. (Assumed) The note read that X was to be bathed and dressed in proper clothing before the next day.

Because of that note and because he was already furious that X had gone to school, X was violently bathed in the concrete cattle trough, "punished" into the evening, and then did as she typically did when he returned home that night, drunk, furious and with a single sack dress... she hid till dawn in the barn.

For the next two weeks roughly, two of the women from church took turns picking up X in the morning, taking her to school, wherein X would sit under the table in the corner with no one including the teacher approaching her. At the end of that two weeks, the morning came when no one showed up ever again and X never attended school again.

That all said... X by thirty had still never looked in a magazine, a book, listened to the radio or watched TV because it was too confusing (all of it was too alien to what she knew in her life). Naturally, she was illiterate, and could only count somewhat due to a 'mentor' she knew briefly around 12 years old halfway around the globe. At thirty X met a man who changed her life from the one extreme she had lived to the positive opposite.

At 32, X with some help from her Husband and ultimately a companion he arranged for her to have, taught herself to read and write and basic mathematics. She began studying anything she didn't know (which was everything about the world, society and so on as you know it), and ultimately became an expert in many odd areas of study, because as she was told, "just pick a subject, any subject, and learn it until you become tired of it." ...and she has never stopped doing that.

X now reads slowly (trying to comprehend) but advanced to the point that on the internet, know one knows that she had such beginnings, many assume she is college educated. However, X still cannot get the words out when speaking, typically reverting to her own made up over the years pidgin. X for the past 20+ years has written daily, still feels she has much to learn, but, writes historical shorts, fictional stories and a number of novellas and a few novels (all unpublished).

X will tell you flatly that her life since 30 is heaven, and because her Husband let her make the choice to learn instead of forcing her to, is why she has accomplished what she has so far, and cannot imagine that life for anyone is better.

In any case, that is "X's" experience with school.

K2
 
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Alex The G and T

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This is one of my very first memories. I must have been barely more than three years of age.

My mother was still at university. She'd drop me off at a pre-school/childcare institution while she went to class.

I remember very few details about the place, or the staff, or the other inmates. Only this one heinous instance of misplaced justice.

In the middle of the playground stood a sort of Gazebo/Pagoda sort of thing. It contained bins full of wooden building blocks, in front of tables to place them upon.

I was busy building a monumental feat of engineering, stacking blocks into a veritable Tower of Babel as high as I could reach. It was glorious thing.

Another inmate was next to me, shuffling blocks around, in a mindless mess. He reached over and snatched the keystone from the base of my tower; bringing the entire edifice down into a heap of rubble. I was appalled that he, with an endless supply of loose blocks at hand, would choose to vandalize my glorious construction, with such thoughtless larceny.

So, I snatched a piece out of the ruins and bashed the bastard on the head.

Then ambled off in search of a less disappointing pastime.

Whence, I was snatched off of the top of the slide and incarcerated indoors; left to peering dolefully out of the window, at the continuing joyful antics on the playground.

My overwhelming feeling was of the gross miscarriage of justice; where a larcenous vandal was pitied and I was punished for a perfectly reasonable response. I had no voice in my defense. My protestations were ignored. No one appreciated the magnitude of my achievement, nor my dismay at its destruction.

20 years later, I was driving down a street, glanced out the side window and there it was. The same playground. And it all came rushing back to me; like the hot kiss at the end of a wet fist. (Tip o the hat to Firesign Theater for that line.)
 
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Extollager

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K2 and Alex, I can't bring myself to "like" your accounts, but I appreciate them.

In my #50 above, here's the missing verb:

I wonder when outright brutality, teacher-to-student, in most American and British schools, ended.
 

BigBadBob141

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REF: Alex The T And G.
Yes I can remember when I was young how massively outraged I would sometimes get at what I felt was a terrible, terrible miscarriage of justice!
Whereas nowadays I would probably just shrug it off.
I suppose it is true, you do mellow with old age.
 

svalbard

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K2 and Alex, I can't bring myself to "like" your accounts, but I appreciate them.

In my #50 above, here's the missing verb:

I wonder when outright brutality, teacher-to-student, in most American and British schools, ended.
I can remember when corporal punishment ended in Ireland. It was in 1982 and I was ten years old at the time. That did not mean teacher to pupil and occasionally pupil to teacher brutality ended. However the year stands out for me in that it was at this time that a certain 2 foot bamboo stick, lovingly called Fred by it's master, was retired much to the joy of cheeky little boys(it was an all boy's school run by a certain sadistic religious order) who endured a terminal 6 years of primary education within the drab and depressing corridors of that damnable institution.

Secondary education was a much lighter experience. Secular and a mixed sex school( which brought it's own torments).
 

dannymcg

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Terror of the nuns

Aged four and a quarter I was taken to the Catholic school.
Within a couple of days we were in the gym and split into the two teams "vests and skins". At that point my birthmark (now long faded away and covered by chest hair) was seen.

This birthmark greatly resembled a third nipple. To further add to this outrage it was noted in class I was left handed. My fate was sealed, these fanatical women with their Irish peasant accents and very basic one year teaching certificates decided to "beat the divil" out of me.
For three years I was rapped viciously (without warning) across my left hand with a long wooden ruler whenever they saw me using that hand.

By the time I transferred to junior school aged seven I had a very bad stammer, nervous twitches even when standing still and a habit of cringing when an adult was nearby.

Junior school, even though caning was common, was like a breath of fresh air to me, only punished for breaking the rules, not for my nature and a birthmark.

To this day I tend to frown if I see a nun and have made very sure that none of my kids or grandkids attend a Catholic school
 

Hugh

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Terror of the nuns

Aged four and a quarter I was taken to the Catholic school.
Within a couple of days we were in the gym and split into the two teams "vests and skins". At that point my birthmark (now long faded away and covered by chest hair) was seen.

This birthmark greatly resembled a third nipple. To further add to this outrage it was noted in class I was left handed. My fate was sealed, these fanatical women with their Irish peasant accents and very basic one year teaching certificates decided to "beat the divil" out of me.
For three years I was rapped viciously (without warning) across my left hand with a long wooden ruler whenever they saw me using that hand.

By the time I transferred to junior school aged seven I had a very bad stammer, nervous twitches even when standing still and a habit of cringing when an adult was nearby.

Junior school, even though caning was common, was like a breath of fresh air to me, only punished for breaking the rules, not for my nature and a birthmark.

To this day I tend to frown if I see a nun and have made very sure that none of my kids or grandkids attend a Catholic school
Ignorance! Madness! Superstition! The capacity of humankind for malevolence, be it unknowing or deliberate, always amazes me.

May you live well! May you prosper! May you outlive this ignorance!
 
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nixie

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I've had good and bad experiences with nuns. Sister Michael terrified us, speak out of turn your ear was twisted, run in a corridor she would deliberately trip you


Around thirteen a boy joined halfway through the year, disruptive, a bully, a thief. He came into class one day covered in bruises, when he started playing up as normal she gripped his ear he retaliated, leaving her with a busted nose, she physically subdued him. Everyone expected him to be expelled.

What she did instead was keep him after class for a couple of hours, then drove him home. Him and his brother were taking into care and parents charged with abuse.
She mentored him, got him caught up with school work, I still see him now and then and he never lost touch with her.
 

Parson

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This birthmark greatly resembled a third nipple. To further add to this outrage it was noted in class I was left handed. My fate was sealed, these fanatical women with their Irish peasant accents and very basic one year teaching certificates decided to "beat the divil" out of me.
For three years I was rapped viciously (without warning) across my left hand with a long wooden ruler whenever they saw me using that hand.
This brings tears to my eyes. I just can't understand how "religious" people can get so unbelievably far from Jesus' ideals.

What she did instead was keep him after class for a couple of hours, then drove him home. Him and his brother were taking into care and parents charged with abuse.
She mentored him, got him caught up with school work, I still see him now and then and he never lost touch with her.
But this also brings tears to my eyes. Someone who saw beneath the behavior and poured herself into the life of someone who needed someone to stand up and help them.
 
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