I remember one day when I was in the eighth grade at the old Boonsboro Middle School. It was a time for mischief, and some fun at the expense of the substitute teacher in a social studies class.
I never had an opinion on corporal punishment in high school, until the events of this day unfolded.
I can’t remember all the things we had for school lunch that day, but one food item I do remember well was raisins. I didn’t eat the raisins at lunch but placed them in my shirt pocket for later use.
At 1 p.m., we had our first afternoon class. It was a social studies class with a substitute teacher.
After the first few minutes of class, I decided to pull a raisin from my shirt pocket and gently (OK, maybe not so gently) toss it at the back of another student’s head.
Soon, raisins were bouncing all over the place.
Obviously, several other students had kept their raisins from lunch, too.
The substitute teacher could not stop the barrage of flying raisins. But, to her credit, she did have a plan.
She called the assistant principal’s office to seek help.
Because of professional respect for this individual, I am not going to mention his name, but I will tell you the “rest of the story.”
The assistant principal arrived in the classroom and made an announcement: “Everyone who was throwing raisins, outside in the hall!”
My grandmother taught me not to lie, and as I suspected my name was near the top of the substitute teacher’s list of raisin throwers, I proceeded to the hallway. My good friend “Fink,” as we called him, followed me out of the classroom.
Once in the hallway, the assistant principal instructed all of us, which was about 15 or so in number, to put our hands up against the wall. We quickly complied with his request.
Where exactly he came up with that big wooden paddle still remains a mystery to me, but he ended up with this huge paddle in his right hand.
He worked his way down the line of students, grabbing each one in the back of the collar with his left hand and — WHAM! — swinging the paddle with his right hand to the backside of each student. I was No. 3 in line, and boy did that smart.
It was my first and only experience with corporal punishment in school.
Did it change my behavior? I never threw another raisin throughout my entire academic career.
Additionally, my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Braithwaite, learned of the incident and required all involved students to write a 1,000-word essay on raisins.
After that experience, I stopped eating raisins for a lengthy period of time. Even today, they are not one of my favorite foods.
Should corporal punishment be banned in schools?
Recently, in Texas, an individual was given three quick swats to his backside for skipping detention. His parents are suing the school because he suffered some deep bruises and ended up in the hospital.
Maybe that lesson was a little too harsh.
On the other hand, if the young lad fails to correct his behavior and ends up in prison, that, too, might be a difficult lesson for all concerned.
In reading the related New York Times article, it was reported that 25 years ago corporal punishment in our schools existed in all but a few states. Today, most school districts have abandoned the practice.
About 20 states still maintain corporal punishment as an option for controlling classroom behavior.
Should corporal punishment be maintained or abolished in our schools?
I suppose everyone has their own opinion on the topic. As for me, I still don’t like raisins.
Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.