One of the things I remember always being asked, when I last actually had to interview for a job back in the day, was about my “discipline” policy. At one of my first interviews, at least half of it was devoted to how I would handle certain “scenarios.” I kept insisting that those things hadn’t happened in my (admittedly limited) experience and I didn’t see them happening in my class in the future. Needless to say I didn’t get that one.
With all the noobs we have been hiring in recent years, I have been in on some interviews. And you know what? We didn’t ask any of them about discipline.
Instead the question that probably would have occupied that space was replaced by, “What do you do to motivate kids?”
See how that works? It’s now on you to “motivate” rather than “discipline” when they aren’t “motivated” enough to listen to you. So the trend is that you don’t get a lot of back up when you want to kick some booty and “send a kid to the office.” They just aren’t as scared of that as they used to be, and justifiably so. Our management is just too nice nowadays.
Anyway, that ain’t the way it was when I was a lad. Let’s go back and take a look at the mid 1970s with this post from November 2012:
Once I survived eight years of the nuns at St. Mel’s, it was on to four years of the Jesuits and 600 or 700 boys. Just like back at Mel’s with the nuns, there weren’t enough of the brothers and priests to teach all the classes, so there were a lot of what they called lay teachers. Nowadays I hear, J-High has begun employing women teachers. I can easily imagine the kind of jokes that would have rocketed around that all boys school in the 70’s, if we had female teachers who were called lay. I hope kids are more refined today, but I doubt it. Ahem… moving on.
Anyway, being a secondary school, J-High need a lot more lay teachers than Mel’s had. If fact they were in the majority. And of course being the 70’s, things were much less… shall we say… supervised than today. Parents didn’t really ask what was going on at school and expected the teachers to handle things. The admin sort of followed the same credo, so teachers had a lot of free rein in those days. Of course if they needed disciplinary back-up, it was always at hand. After the first few shut ups (Mr. Maffei, who was Italian, said it like, “Shut uppa you face,”) or if “hitting the deck” (kneeling on the floor by your desk, sometimes on a pencil) wasn’t enough to get you to see that the straight and narrow was the right path, most teachers just gave you a pass to see the Dean.
The first trip ALWAYS resulted in JUG. Justice Under God. Picking up trash with one of those old-school sticks with the poker on it. After school. For an hour. That day. Not maybe in a week. Not after you got another chance or a talking to the first time. That day. He didn’t care if you took the bus and would miss it. He didn’t care if you had football practice and couldn’t play Saturday if you missed any part of practice on Friday. He didn’t care if it was Friday. If you got a pass to the dean, you got JUG that afternoon. It was like an 11th commandment.
There weren’t a whole lot of classroom discipline problems at J-High. In the immortal word of my 9th grade algebra teacher,
“I gotcha by the short hair.”
Sometimes he would even grab that short hair at the base of your skull and yank, just to emphasize the point.
Today we have to relay on things that waste our time too, like detention at break. What? I have to sit there for 10 minutes with my lamest criminals when I hafta pee because THEY can’t cope? I have to document parent contact and all the various measures I have taken to ensure that I have taken all the steps necessary to help this student succeed behaviorally? (Someone actually used that phrase in my presence. I almost died laughing.) Before I get to write a referral that will someday (sometimes a month later) get looked at by an admin who will have to ask the kid what happened, and will MAYBE assign an hour or two of something someday.
Granted, I usually handle my discipline issues in house, so I am not looking for a lot of disciplinary back up. But when it’s needed, the “consequences” should be immediate. Like training your puppy not to pee on the rug. It doesn’t do any good for a punishment to occur days or weeks after the offense.