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Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’

DJ Brennan, Editor In Chief

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Faculty members and school system share their experiences with corporal punishment

Dress code violations. Public Displays of affection. Talking back to a teacher. Being disruptive in class. These types of misbehavior were not tolerated years ago; students did not disrespect teachers, because if they did, the rest of the students in the hall could hear the sharp crack of a paddle across their backside. Paddles—wooden and holey alike—were used on students as a common form of discipline to enforce the rules. Spanking was something that most of the older generation grew up with. It was normal to get “licks” for dress code violations, public displays of affection and talking back to a teacher—things now students do every day and have little to no consequences.

Students could be paddled for speaking out of line. AFJROTC Colonel Wilbanks remembers defending the girlfriend in high school that he married.

“Senior year 1969, someone made an inappropriate comment about my girlfriend, which is my current wife, I confronted him about it and he took a swing at me,” Colonel Wilbanks said. “We broke out into a fight, minutes later we were in the assistant principal’s office getting the board of education handed to us, which is what they called the paddle back then, by Mr. H.B. Onely.”

Instead of In School Suspension and/or detention, students were subjected to corporal punishment—physical pain as a form of discipline—back in the day. Graphic Designer Debra Hutchinson of The Wylie News remembered her experience with a nun back in catholic school.

“Junior year, I remember this tiny nun who was always dressed up in the full garb, rosary and all that. She hated students chewing gum in her class,” Hutchinson said. “One day this big brawly freshman boy was chewing gum in her class, she waited until class was over and followed him to lunch, got behind him, lifted him full off the ground with one arm, made him spit out the gum, and dropped him on his butt.”

The general consensus of corporal punishment is that it is an outdated practice.  Physics teacher Dr. Eric Best believed he deserved all of his licks.

“I had my fair share of licks as they called it, mostly in high school,” Dr. Best said. “I know I had it coming every time. In retrospect looking back on it now all these years later, it was a positive thing. It definitely got the message across that I needed to stop doing the stupid things I was doing. Personally, I think they should bring it back because I know the impact that it makes.”

Some teachers even use corporal punishment on their own children at home. Nurse Tina Sullivan admits to using a wooden spork to reprimand her children.

“I would spank my daughter when she was younger, because she would talk back and I’d spank her, set her straight. Sometimes I’d have to chase her down,” Sullivan said. “If I told her to do something and she would mouth back, even at four years old I’d paddle her little butt, put her down and make her do it. If she refused, I’d paddle her again. After a while she got tired of her little bottom being burnt with the spork.”

Reminiscing, some faculty members think back to their own memories of corporal punishment. Dr. Best remembers pulling practical pranks back at Lake Highlands High School in 1978.

“It was my junior year and there was an English teacher that we called Crazy Doris. She was giving my friend a hard time,” Best said. “Three of us decided to sneak out of lunch and throw a smoke bomb into her class, which was upstairs B hall, so we figured we could get up there and no one would be in the halls.”

Best and one of his friends held the doors open at the end by the stairwell to make sure everything was safe, while their third man lit the smoke bomb and threw it into crazy Doris’s classroom.

“We thought it would be funny to shut the doors on him so he would get trapped and have to run,” Best said. “We went back to economics class laughing to ourselves and about 10 minutes later he showed up at the door with one of the assistant principal’s holding his arm.”

The three were escorted down to the office to receive their punishment.

“I remember hearing the exciting news that we would be spending some time grabbing the desk in the principal’s office,” Best said. “I don’t remember how many licks we got, but I do remember not being able to sit down comfortable for a couple days. I’m glad that we got licks instead of ISS though because if I just had to spend a few days in ISS, I would do it again later.”

Corporal punishment was still practiced even after substitute Caroline Teamman had graduated 42 years ago.

“I caught my eldest son, Joe, putting wash cloths in his pants to soften the blow before heading off to school to get 10 licks for talking back in class,” Teamann said.

In that generation, people were brought up with the mind set of “spare the rod, spoil the child.”

“We would be fired today if we reached out and touched a student in a punishment phase. I suspect this goes back to title 10 when females became more involved in the school system,” Teamman said. “When women started becoming part of the general population, the sexual connotations of a spanking a female were probably too much for the school district to handle or take responsibility for.”

Some believe that corporal punishment should be implemented in the school disciplinary system again.

“Corporal punishment needs to be put back in schools because children think they should be handed everything without consequences. They misbehave and we warn and we warn and we warn them, but nothing ever gets done,” Sullivan said. “They have learned that they can do what they want and they have to sit in ISS.”

There are still signs of corporal punishment, but none as personal as spanking. Teachers have been known to students remove gum from desks as punishment, which for some is equally humiliating.

“There was a teacher I had in school who has a paddle with “I DID NOT DO RIGHT” written across the four foot long board,” Coach Colby Polhmeier said. “No one wanted to get swats from him and he never had any discipline problems in his classroom.”

Some teachers find humor in the idea of corporal punishment because they can show the students the same humiliation that they deal out to faculty members daily.

“Sometimes I wish we were still allowed to spank students just to get even, just once,” Security officer Don Knaggs said.

Best maintained his practical prankster rap sheet throughout high school.

“When I was in PE there were students that were allowed to stay inside and take role, check in people’s valuables that they didn’t want left in the locker rooms into the Manager’s office,” Best said. “My friend Larry King and I discovered that if you rewire the phone to the PA system, you could play messages over the locker room intercom, so we had the bright idea to play messages from questionable businesses.”

Everyday Best and his friend would play messages over the intercom after gym and listen to the uncontrollable laughter coming from the locker room.

“Until one day, the laughing stopped and it was dead silent. The coaches found out what we were doing, we turned around to find them staring at us with their hand under their chin with the biggest grin on their face,” Best said. “Larry King and I got so many licks it was hard to sit down for almost a week.”

Corporal punishment, according to popular belief, will stop students from misbehaving in class and at home.

“I wish we had it back because when I was teaching and that was still allowed I never had any problems in my classes,” Coach Andrews said. “As soon as corporal punishment went out the door and we couldn’t embarrass the babies anymore, it just got worse and worse every year.”

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Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’