School punishments then and now

My eldest son was a bit of a talker in class. Though it was never his fault. He said. The usual punishment for repeated transgressions was a Saturday detention. He had to dress in full school uniform and be at school at the usual start time. He would only need to stay 30 minutes or so, but it was the effort involved. It did help him zip the lip - for a time.

That made to think about the usual punishments handed out when I was at school in the 1960s. Writing out 100 times on the blackboard after school, 'I must not talk in  class'. What a waste of time! My husband tells how he was made to stand in a rubbish bin in a corner of the class when he didn't get as satisfactory result in a maths class.

What do you remember about school punishments? Are your kids or grandkids 'punished' very differently now? Are the punishments effective?


When I was at school the boys got 'the cane' from the Headmaster and would often reappear in class with red welts on the backs of their legs.  As a girl, the worse I ever got (for much the same transgressions) was a whack across the palm with a ruler - from the teacher.   Sexist much?  There was the occasional complaint made by a parent but it was a rarity.  The abuse continued unabated.

By the time I had kids in school nothing much had changed except that I for one, among many others, complained bitterly to the Headmaster when my son came home with bruises on the backs of his legs from being given 'the cane'.   It never happened again.  Well not to my knowledge anyway.  

I started school in the 40s,  we got caned for wearing the wrong socks and caned over the knuckles for doing the least little thing,  as well we had chairs and blackboard wipers thrown at us by some very bad-tempered teachers for really very little.

There were a lot of teachers that had just returned from WW2 and they were very violent

There was only one teacher I remember that was great and she thought Physiology and I came top in that every time

We had to even show our fingernails every morning and if they were not clean we got the cane,  we would not dare to have any nail polish or such on -- the kids of today wear jewellery /nail polish/tattoos/  and give the teachers a hell of a time and it seems the teachers can do little about it.

We had the Sisters of Mercy?????? One Nun, Sister Malachy was so cruel to many of us girls, she even broke a girl's bone on her hand with a ruler. I copped it often but never complained to my parents, always had welts on my calves.  My boys went to a school that had the Christian Brothers, more floggings. I think the Nuns hated children and you could always see some poor child getting thrashed. One of the Nuns pushed my friend in the chest and she pushed her back and walked out of the classroom, she was expelled. The children don't know how lucky they have it today. 

Dead right there HOLA --the kids of today get away with a hell of a lot and it is wrong -- I know a young man that gave up teaching because the kids were uncontrollable and used VERY bad swearing and they were not allowed to do a thing about it --

I also think that those so-called religious schools and such were the very worst and have a lot to answer for especially the boarding schools and orphanages

I went to a public school until grade 4, we got the cane a lot for not being able to spell.  then went to a catholic school until age 15 when i left and went out to work.  We got the strap a lot, it was a leather strap and you would get it on the hand.  it hurt a lot and we would get it for just about anything,  Yes some brothers were very cruel and very sadistic .  But i think we grew up ok.  I think kids now days can get away with anything,even taking knives,drugs to school.they have not much respect,  bring back the strap i say. 

I don't agree with some punishment teachers dish out.

Lines are not a good idea of punishment because it doesn't make the child think, the child goes into automatic writing and switches off.

Reminds me of one day I had come to collect my youngest when he was 16, I had to take him for an appointment and he didn't arrive at the school gate.  So I had to lock the car and go into the gym which was his last class for the day.  There he was sitting with at least 60 students being held back by some young teacher.

I walked up to the front of the children and told him to get up and out into the car, then turned to the teacher and told him never ever do that again to my son and walked out.  Never heard from the teacher again, I hope he learnt a lesson.

That is you should never ever punish all the children because of one or two children.

Celia - That's how they did it in those times, punish one and the rest of the class has to suffer as well. My Dad went to a boarding school and the teachers could get away with anything. My Dad suffered at the hands of a sadistic male teacher who often punished the boys with a long stick with a small ball at the end of it. The boys called him Nobby. They had to bend over with their hands clasped between their knees, as he came down with the stick he would get the tip of their fingers as well. Dad said on a cold Winter's day it hurt like hell. When he went to see his Mother on a Christmas break she noticed he had red  welts on his back. She was totally disgusted and complained to the Headmaster. Also, one Teacher died in her sleep and when they collected the body they discovered it was a Male dressed up as a Woman. But Dad loved the school as they had good Athletics and Swimming pools and he was School Champion in Swimming for 3 years. I've still got the trophys.  They did it tough in those days. 


Also, my son was only 8 in Primary School and he had to write "I must not talk in class", 100 times. This was beside his Homework. He was crying, so I lightened his burden by taping 3 pens together and wrote the 100 lines in no time.  You have to help out sometimes. 

Good on you HOLA

Back then some of the punishments were over the top and most have disappeared, thankfully. I was always a good girl and never got punished. Sadly, the wheel has turned and the lack of punishments is more of a problem than the early punishments. Those students who continually disrupted the schooling of others were eventually expelled and either had to find another school or join the workforce. Today, students cannot be expelled regardless of what they do. One of our children witnessed a male student punching a female teacher and he copped the worst punishment that could be dealt out; a month's suspension. He returned to the same class with the same female teacher and it's no wonder that teachers leave the profession as students have more rights than teachers.

if parents cant /wont control their kids ( look around the shopping centers ) what hope have teachers got ??  though parents still need to keep an eye on what kids are taught about behavior at school.

Yes, parental control sure is lacking when I see what kids are allowed to get away with these days -

Also when you hear of young kids being out at all hours of the night -- where the hell are their parents?

When in 6th class I had a teacher who was very cruel, he used a piece of dowel wrapped in sticky tape to give 4 or 6 cuts, for some reason he delighted in giving me the treatment, I was at that stage of life slightly built and only 10 years old no match for him at all. When I was 20 I saw this thug in the water at Bondi and approached him  said hello and knocked him out, as far as I was concerned he deserved everything he got.

I say good for you Canman -- I hope you told him why and who you were

I remember a sadistic mongrel principal in the 50s who delighted in wielding his very long cane in the staff room, reserving all punishments until breaks then dishing it out to a queue of terrified little kids in front of teachers trying to eat and relax. He caned me many times for writing left-handed so I survived by becoming ambidextrous in his presence. I then spent 50 years as a (left-handed) teacher, conscious of the need to be better and fairer than that grub had been. I taught three generations of primary school kids and the vast majority at that age were as decent and hard-working as their parents had been.


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