The Legend of Iron Butt

Posted: March 19, 2014 in Classroom, Education, Humor

Back when I began teaching paddling was permitted, sometime encouraged, 1and arguably necessary. I don’t want this to turn into a debate about paddling because I get it. We know things now we didn’t know then.

And listen, I’m obviously not in favor of beating the hell out of a kid but sometimes a whack on the butt was just what the doctor ordered for certain kids. Seriously, for some it worked very well. Barbaric I know, but it was a different time.

It always amuses me when someone will inevitably say, “Well, I’m against hitting kids.” Guess what? I am too. Because the word “hitting” implies a kid is getting punched in the mouth or something. Sorry, but a swat on the buttocks is nowhere near the same as coldcocking a student in the jaw.

So stop it.

Kids used to actually make me paddles in shop class or at home, and I had quite the collection. I even had a cool white fiberglass paddle that would whip through the air like flat sword. Cool.

I have a few paddling stories but a couple stand out, one in particular, but I’ll get to it shortly. The first one involves a really big study hall I had back in the day . . .

Back  in my first year of teaching I had a study hall in the cafeteria with well over 100-students in it. I’m thinking it was around 133 or something like that. Anyway, a lot. Basically you had to have everyone be quiet, because if you told 133 students that whispering was permitted it was going to get really loud all up in there.

It usually went just fine, the kids were good, blah-blah-blah, but one day the kids were wound up like crazy and I couldn’t settle them down. Finally, I started picking them out and sending them to the hallway for a whack. Most were mortified but hey, they wouldn’t listen. At one point I’d become pretty mad and had sent eight kids out there, so I said this loudly and sarcastically:

“Alright, I have 8-kids out there to paddle and I’d love to have an even 10. Any volunteers?”

Turns out I did. Two of my junior high football players shot their hands up immediately.

“We’ll do it for you coach! Paddle us! Paddle us!”

And I did. I’ll say it again –  the 80’s was a very different time.

I’ve written before about corporal punishment, in particular the not-so-critically acclaimed blog entitled “Joe’s Whoopin‘”, but there’s another story I thought you might find mortifying interesting.

The culprit involved was a tough-as-nails kid named Tommy. Tommy had played junior high football for me and was a good, but sometimes ornery, kid. To make matters worse he was in a class that included several students that were a lot like him, and they’d been raising havoc for most of the school year.

I don’t even remember what Tommy did to deserve it, but one day I’d had enough and sent him to the hallway. As I grabbed my paddle and headed out to join him, one of the other kids laughed and mentioned “There’s no way Tommy will feel it. Tommy feels no pain.”

For some reason that ticked me off even more and I was determined to have Tommy indeed feel it. When we got to the hallway, Tommy had already assumed the position, bent over, facing down the hallway with his hands on his knees. I told him it was coming, then drew back and let him have it.

What happened next surprised even me.

As I connected, the top half of the paddle snapped, and it was suddenly helicoptering down the hallway, making a swooshing noise as it went. I swear it was flying like a boomerang, but in a straight line.

At that moment a little kid was exiting the office and fortunately turned towards us, for he otherwise could have been beheaded by the splintered, flying “Board of Education.”

As luck would have it, though, he saw it coming, ducked, and the plank continued its Death Spiral down the hallway until it slammed against the wall about 40-feet away.

Meanwhile, the shocked kid, Tommy and I stood staring open-mouthed, stunned at what we’d just witnessed. Then this discussion happened:

Tommy: “Wow. That was AWESOME.”

Me: “I KNOW! Are you OK?”

Tommy: “Yeah, why?”

Me: “Never mind. Better go get the rest of my paddle.”

Kid: “That’s what it was?”

I have to tell you, I’ve never seen a more shocked classroom of students than when I walked back in carrying a splintered, split-in-two paddle, followed by Tommy carrying the other half. 25-pairs of eyes watched silently as we came back in. After I got back to my podium and Tommy took his seat, one of the other students spoke up:

“I don’t know what happened out there but I’m keeping my mouth shut.”

And so did everyone else.

See? I told you paddling could be effective.

Gimme a holler.

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