Swickard: Getting swats at school

Back row middle left - Kindergarten graduation, what a relief!
© 2015 Michael Swickard, Ph.D.  This last week has been the start of another public school year. I remember well my very first day in public school. Quickly I was put in the corner for misbehavior. I thought I was sent to school because they needed help running the joint. Not so.
            They were alarmed that I said, "Hey!" often to get their attention. "Wait your turn, Michael," I was told. Within minutes I found that liquid doesn't flow up a rope. The people at school didn't want help. Shuckins. The Ayatollah Kindergarten decided drastic measures were needed. She called my parents.
            They were relaxing at home and were chagrined that they needed to come discipline me. I was glad to see them. I explained that the place needed help running and that was what I was doing. I noticed my parents were trying not to smile. They tried "The Kindergarten knows better than you" but I wasn't having it.
            Weekends were better since I didn't have to deal with short-tempered school teachers. The worse part of it was I was in an experiment where kids had to go to Kindergarten two years. It was a two tough years of me putting up with those Michael-aversive people.
            They thought the purpose of kindergarten was to give them a job and to reign in boisterous boys. Every morning of those two years my teachers took their bossy pills and thought I should do what they commanded. I thought them wrong and we fought to a draw.
            Then there were those public school years afterwards. Along the way school leaders decided my brains were in the seat of my pants and to get my attention they should give me swats. I do have to say I never got an educational swat after high school.
            It seems to me that the public schools spent untold hours swatting me and it had no real effect upon me ever. I always vowed to make no sign that they had hit me. So I refused to be intimidated by the swat paddle which upset the sadistic teachers.
            Mostly what they were able to do was cause me to view school as a gang of thugs beating up small children. While the swats have stopped in today's public schools, the thuggish behavior continues with teachers being intentional mean to small children. It is considered rigor but we know what evil lurks in some hearts.
            I did get swatted the last week of public school a few days before graduation. Two friends and I were making noise in the hallway as we left the school. A teacher came out of her room to quiet us. We blew raspberries and the assistant principal grabbed us. He said, "Three swats or you do not walk at graduation."
            I got four swats instead of three because I said rudely to the poor man, "Knock yourself out Clyde, I don't care what you do because in a couple days I'm outta here." Then I laughed at him again but he had administered ten swats and was sweating profusely. He was all stroked out and had to sit down. We laughed.
            We made lots of racket leaving the school and everyone ignored me. Fast forward eight years and I was teaching at Albuquerque High School when some graduating seniors were making lots of noise in the hallway. I stepped out and said, "Hey, glad you are still around. I enjoyed all of you this year. Wherever you go I will always be your friend."
            One of the noisy kids started to smart off to me but several others hushed him and the group walked over and shook my hand and just said, "Thanks." And I have seen some of those kids over the years. We always smile when we see each other. I never believed in being a jerk to the students. Even if it got me fired I would never swat a student. Not ever.
            Too many adults in the public schools carry big sticks and speak with loud voices. They judge and push the students while students count the hours until they leave school forever. We adults could do better if we were better human beings.



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