Lickin’s in the Good Old Days

Back in the good old days, my mom’s neighbor would stop her on the way home from school.

“Did ya learn anything?,” Mr. Maust would ask. “Did ya get a lickin’?”

And when she shook her head, because, of course, my mom would never get a licking, he’d wrinkle his brow in disapproval.

“No lickin’, no learnin’,” he’d say.

Though my mom learned without a lickin,’ she saw plenty of them. Once, for example, she felt the wind from a rubber hose as it flew by her ear. The teacher was whipping Frank Kemp.

A bad boy, for sure, Frank was always in trouble. Once he stole my mom’s prize pencil box. She thought it was lost from her forever, until a sleuthing classmate found it.

Still she felt sorry for Frank when he was at the end of that rubber hose. And she wondered about her neighbor’s reasoning. Frank wasn’t setting any records in learning.

My mom wasn’t the only one with paddling stories to tell her children. I’ve told stories, myself. My teachers had paddles two feet long, with holes that let them whistle through the air. The cracks of these paddles sounded through doors and down halls. And some kids couldn’t sit down the rest of the day. They had to stand in the back of the class to nurse their hind parts.

Those kids didn’t set records for learning, either.

When I was a teacher, I taught plenty of kids who needed plenty of help being good. But I saw no positive correlation between learning and the kids who were paddled in the office down the hall from my classroom.

I was teaching when Ohio banned corporal punishment in public schools. And I was glad to be done with that part of the good old days.

2 Replies to “Lickin’s in the Good Old Days”

  1. Of course, I am in your debt with respect to the lickin’ department as you well recall… I seem to have discovered that the corporal risks usually were the highest after one got home from school and you entered the period of ‘full disclosure’ (aka ‘tattling on siblings’). Lickin’s were best aligned with clear and obstinate defiance which was thankfully rare in most well-reared children!


  2. I’m trying to imagine the mindset and motivation of these “educators” who took the time and effort to engineer their paddles with holes to make the punishment sting more. It is nearly sadistic. I’m glad the philosophy of education taught in university education departments has moved beyond that of normal schools and teacher training colleges.


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