Though there were many happy days in school, it is not to say that there were no unpleasant experiences. Some of them we would like to forget, but really can’t. The first ones that come to mind were those that dealt with the dispensing of discipline.
The most popular way of punishing school children twenty five years ago was by flogging. Some whipped with a belt or small paddle. That was light. Some principals had a rope which was soaked with salt water and put in the sun to dry and get stiff. Six cuts with that was good enough to have you behave well for one entire month. But it was not only the number of cuts that hurt. It was the intensity of the cuts.
Some teachers hit really hard, not to discipline but to get rid of their frustrations. Most teachers whipped you on the palms of the hands. That was as bad as an injection where you are more afraid of seeing the whip than the cut itself. Others resorted to whipping on your calves. That made you dance. Sometimes when they were angry, they hit you right on the spot across your back. That made many cry. When you were sent to the principal for a special case of indiscipline, you were asked to bend over a desk and he would whip you ten times right on the buttocks. That made everyone hate principals. The idea was that if they didn’t mark, your parents would not notice.
There were many times when a teacher would hit you so hard that it would mark your skin. At times parents went to the teacher to complain because of the excessively harsh punishment, but this usually resorted to more bad treatment from the teacher. However, there were some parents who said that if a teacher whipped you, they would send a chicken to the teacher so that he would be stronger and hit you even harder.
Ugly days in school, right? But that did not happen everyday. The Education Department and school managements condoned whipping in those days, hence the reason why we suffered. But it got worse. Some teachers put bottle stoppers with sharp edges on the floor and asked children to kneel on them for ten minutes. Then they asked you to hold your hands out and placed two heavy books in your hands to hold. If you lowered your hands too quickly, they whipped you.
There was this particular woman (I refuse to call her a teacher) who had the longest nails a woman could have. When you misbehaved, she clamped those fingernails into your arm, so much that one would bleed. She was a devil who truly made one hate school and her.
Hey, remember the good old days that I spoke about; it is not all that bad. Kids were punished for fighting, cursing, or even teasing others. But teachers whipped you too if you did not know your spelling. That was fun to see the same poor spellers hit day after day. They whipped you if you did not know your mathematical tables. I was very good at that. 7 X 6 is 42 / 9 X 9 is 81. I happened to always forget 9 X 7 which is… is… what?
I must admit I got a few cuts for that item. If you did not know your history dates, you got a whipping. If you got one math problem wrong, you got a few. Well, you got the point.
It would seem that the main requirement to be a teacher twenty five years ago was your ability to whip or lash. Not really. We had great teachers like Teacher Marthita, and Leonor and George Kumul among others twenty five years ago.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist