Friday, July 12, 2013

Getting To Know Me

My school days as a child had a big impact on the rest of my life.
Certain events helped mold me into the person I am today.....
both spiritually and politically.

Some events were minor and some major. Take for example these:

Primary....cried most of the first month, did not like school one bit.

Grade 1....Began to settle down somewhat.

Grade 2....Me and my friend got 'strapped' for laughing in church
during benediction service. It really hurt.

Grade 3....I got another 'strapping' for mimicking the sound
of the bell while standing in line. This teacher was old rather cranky.

Grade 4....Uneventful, must have learned to follow the rules.

Grade 5....Had older boys in this class who should have been
in grades 7 or 8. Couldn't understand why they were there.
Realized eventually that they failed this grade a couple of times
and were held back, as was the custom back then.

Grade 6....the BEST teacher, Miss Burke. She had her hands full
as she 'inherited' all those big guys and the rest of us little guys.
She had to follow the school rules but could never strap us......
she had us strap ourselves out of sight in the coatroom.
It was hilarious at times because we all knew (and so did she)
that some would hit the strap on the window ledge
instead of hitting their hands with the strap.
She also took us on a trip around the province, by bus,
the first time for most of us going so far from home
and for three days!! Loved it!

Grade 7....Me and best friend John always getting ourselves
 in trouble for laughing our heads off at anything we
found funny....we would get out of control.
And yes.....strapped again! I remember the teacher
telling me while she was strapping me (and it still HURT)
that she felt so bad for doing this because my mother 
was such a wonderful person! Didn't stop her from strapping 
me a few more times that year.

Grade 8....Best friend John and I got hauled 
(were asked/told to report) to the church early one Saturday morning
by the pastor. I guess he felt that we had to learn 
to speak louder when  responding in Latin during the mass.
We were both altar boys and I he felt we needed to learn to shout.
He and another priest were far in the back 
while John and I were on the altar. They made us scream the
responses to them so they could hear them all the way to the back.

It was the first time I can remember feeling humiliated 
and I noticed they both got a kick of it.

'Things' changed that Saturday morning for me. I wasn't sure
how but knew I saw things differently from then on.

Better end this post on a positive note!!

Grade 9....I had a very 'good year' as far as staying out of trouble
(and I was one of the good kids). 

Funny thing about all this is that I ended up being a teacher!!
For most of my schooling I did not like school one little bit....
starting on that first day in Primary when I knew this was
not going to be for me.


  1. Look at all those grades, and you remember so vividly each outstanding event. You are who you are today, from the things that moulded you into one educated, super- caring, loving, erudite man,a wonderful way with words, and with sharing so much with us. We all learn from your post today. Fond greetings, Jean.

    1. Thanks Jean. Always good to hear your sage advice. There were good and positive times in school for me but to be honest I really never liked going and was always fearful of doing something wrong.
      Fond greetings to you as well.

  2. I suppose you found your calling believing you could do better.
    Did you strap anyone?!?

    As for me, elementary and high school was detestable,
    a long series of years of bullying day after day,
    so, it didn't help my social skills...
    but I did like the academics well enough.
    One thing though, I had to lie to the Sisters in elementary,
    and the priests/laics in high school.
    The sisters used to ask us about the Sunday omelie at church.
    I had to pretend I went to a different church...
    Couldn't very well tell them I felt I was an atheist,
    that my father was protestant (even though he "renounced" it to marry my mom),
    and that my mom was a passive Catholic, claiming to believe,
    but not doing much to prove it,
    while forcing me to go [by myself] to church when we were home on the weekends...
    I knew enough about the Bible to spin some story and get away with it.
    Unlike you, this dilemma didn't make me a theologian
    but I remained curious about religions as they are always an issue in this world
    and I like to know what makes people tick.
    The only beating I got, aside from the bullying, came from my mom who used
    a large wooden ruler to slap my butt. She always became hysterical doing it and seemed to find satisfaction in it and I gave her plenty of reasons to do so.
    I always wondered if this was the origins of my interest for S&M...
    Never told her about that!!! But that is how I discovered my endurance and perpetual defiance.

    Funny the way things shape us!!
    I sure hope you still got that laughter and that they never managed to thwart it. Laughter is always a great experience.

    1. Bruno, I was asked by the principal of a junior high school to strap a child in my class for something he did. I refused and then was asked to witness....I refused that too. I couldn't imagine inflicting pain on a anybody, let alone a child of 12.
      And yes, I thought I could change things in that 'system'. I kept that optimism for years until another principal bullied me right out of the high school I had been at for 12 years. That's another story....

  3. Ugh, strapping. Thank goodness that's gone now in schools. Barbaric, really.

    1. It was so good to have watched this from with-in the system, Debra. It was a relief to see corporal punishment evaporate.

  4. Not knowing you personally Jim, but the idea of you being a rebellious youth seems at odds! I'm with you.. I didn't like school much and never felt as though I "belonged". I certainly wasn't one of the cool kids.

    1. I wasn't rebellious till university, those early years I just enjoyed life as best I could until I realized there were rules that had to be followed. Took me a while.

  5. I loved school - it got me away from home.

    1. I know a lot of people like you!! Good that you did Sharon.

  6. Good stuff must have happened to you between the cranky teachers and the strappings. We didn't have strappings in our schools in Sweden. I never even heard of it and I started school in 1947, which is practically antiquity. But I was bullied for the first four years and didn't learn to love school and learning until I was 10 and began in an all girls school.

    1. LOL! Antiquity, eh? Inger, you are not that much older than I am.....I started in 1953.
      Strapping has stopped here in Canada now and I assume in the U.S. as well. Glad you eventually learned to love school.

  7. I hope teachers don't strap children now. My first-grade teacher spanked me for going inside to get my mittens when it was cold during recess. I've never forgotten that woman. She hated me. She was at my school that one year only, and didn't return the next year. I think she was told not to return because she dared to call my mother and yell at her because I missed school. When I was hospitalized she showed up to visit me. I imagine she felt quite foolish and knew she was in trouble. People didn't yell at my mother and get away with it.


    1. Imagine! Spanking for wanting to stay warm. She obviously had difficulties and it was a good thing that someone saw that she wasn't good to have in a school setting!
      Look at you now, Janie!!

  8. Ohhh I love this post-- can just imagine you in these situations--- it's funny how we remember times like that so vividly. I've no doubt that you were a wonderful teacher---


    1. Thanks Vicki! Those were very interesting times when I went to school!! I think I could fill a book with all the tales!!

  9. I loved this post. Funny, I became a teacher because I loved school so much.

  10. Straps and rulers... It wasn't long after I was in elementary school that these forms of punishment were stopped, but they were around long enough for me to remember them. I never got disciplined that way (I was sooooo quiet and well behaved), but I knew kids that did. Thank goodness that doesn't go on anymore! Maybe you became a teacher to better the system!

    1. I think you are right Martha! I hope I left it in a little better shape.

  11. very interesting. Teachers have such a huge impact on our lives and our spirits and the few that are hateful really do change who we are. I can remember a few times that I felt that humiliation and it still stings after all these years. Thanks for sharing this very personal side of yourself Jim.

  12. Perhaps you wanted the children in your classes to have a better school experience.
    Have you gone and made the world a better place?


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