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Retire Early

When I was growing up as a child in school, in the days of corporal punishment, I can remember attending a catholic school run by a nun principal.
The name of the school which I attended up to fourth grade was called "Our Lady Queen of the World".
I can remember with clarity, during a gym class being taught by a "brother" as we called them then, being struck on the back of the head with what I believe was the knuckles of his clenched fist, knocking me unconscious, all because I was marching out of step.
All I felt was a sudden "ringing" in my head as I passed out.
I was only 10 years old! I can also remember that one of my eldest sisters, two years my senior, having been whipped on the legs with a yard stick by that same nun principal of that same school, and then marched to the gymnasium stage in front of her whole class, to make an example of her.
She was only 12 years old! My poor mother seeing the bruises on my sister's legs the next morning, and hearing about my treatment, burst in tears.
After regaining her composer, marched into the principal's office and with a firm voice, said "if you touch my children again, I will...
you"! My father was not around much or he would have made good on my mother's threats.
The following year, we moved to another town where I attended two other catholic schools by the name of St.
Francois de Bienville and Saint-Clare's, from 5th grade to 7th grade, again run by a nun principal.
Here is where I was introduced to the leather strap at least once a month, given by either the nun principal or her assistant, the vice-principal, an English gentleman (from the UK) who later became a sort of inspiration to me, misbehaving.
Their definition of misbehaving was certainly not mine.
What had I done? Talked in line? Basically, nothing out of the ordinary just like, most other children.
Fool around in class.
Not completing all of my assignments.
Talking in the hallways, and jumping around.
Just normal, cool stuff that cool kids do! This kept on even into high school.
The irony of this is that the vice principal who would usually give me the strap out of his employment duties, on occasion would take the time to make me feel good by telling me I was "debonair".
I never understood what he really meant until much later in life, but It made me feel good and I liked him for it.
Those we're the days of corporal punishment.
Call it what you will, as history shows, we we're just being normal children.
Did their cruel actions make us change? It did not.
Did it make us withdraw? It did not.
Did they succeed in lowering our self-esteem? Definitely not! Even their harsh words "you'll end up in jail" didn't affect me.
Why? Because it was usually done in private, other than my sister's show and tell.
My sister and I and the rest of the gang, went on to be respectfully successful in our everyday lives and I am proud to say parents of very normal and fine children, for which I have five.
Recently, although I have left my wife handle all the school stuff including a couple of complaints and squabbles about my 10 year old son, I was appalled about an incident that I later found out had been going on in a certain catholic school for quite some time.
Where have these teachers and so called "behavior technicians" been all their lives? If they're in my age group, have they forgotten? Were they ever children, or did they just pop-up as an adult from who knows where.
My son is a good child, and although very persistent, which is a winning trait in itself, has a hard time accepting a "No" (another winning trait) when he feels it's unjust or is being treated unfair.
This is a quality that I urge parents not to discourage because it is so crucial for success later onin life.
Because of a shoving incident between my son and a new rival in school (a somewhat withdrawn boy) and others, they were all put on trial and judged by their piers.
The scenario is the following: Whomever misbehaves, are sat in the middle of a circle surrounded by their piers, fellow students, who pass judgment on the misbehavior and decide on a punishment.
The punishment can be anything from missing recesses to going to the principal's office, to suspension etc.
The fellow students are allowed to make fun of the child etc.
That poor child, in the middle of a circle, has been ridiculed by his whole class and consequently the school, since the word gets around.
How can children on either side be unbiased enough to judge another child? How can children on either side be exposed to such negativity and detrimental circumstances? How can our school systems permit such practices? This was not a school project or a game! The school is not a courtroom! My son and his fellow classmates are not on trial here! They did not commit a crime! This in my view was unacceptable! How dare they use a mocked trial by jury in an elementary school atmosphere as if these kids had committed an awful deed! Where do teachers get off on playing with children's minds, like they do? My corporal punishment as a child was less degrading than what these children had to bare.
My punishments were physical, and uncalled for, but at least it was done in private.
They rarely tampered with my mind.
What they we're doing was totally detrimental to the children's self-esteem.
Try for one moment considering what was going through that child's mind as he or she sits in the middle of that circle, being stared at, ridiculed and judged by their classmates.
Total humiliation, shame, hurt, frustration and anger, with no way out! By threatening to denounce this practice to guess who, that "debonair" English vice-principal who later became head of the school commission, this practice was immediately abandoned.
Og Mandino once wrote, "How many times does a child have to hear that he or she will never make it in life, before he or she accepts that verdict, usually from a parent or teacher, and spends the rest of his or her days fulfilling the prophecy of failure"? How sad, that as supposedly educated and civilized adults we choose to destroy our children's self-esteem.
Napoleon Hill once said, "Knowledge has nothing to do with being educated.
It has to do with knowing how to use it".
Obviously this new generation of teachers, have a lot to learn pass their academic background.
They would do well to read stuff they didn't learn in college such as "Children at Risk" by Dr.
James Dobson.
You'll find that throughout our history, our leaders in education have always had challenging moments with children.
It's not easy being a teacher.
But this does not allow one to cross that fine line.
So teachers and parents don't be so quick to judge.
Children have a God given, natural instinct, to persevere, persist and strive for what they want and believe in.
It is us who have a tendency to destroy the very qualities that they need later on in life.
It's ironic, that as a child you have to eventually succumb to the "NO" if you are to survive in an adult world, as opposed to not accepting a "NO" if you are to succeed as an adult.
I felt in my heart that this practice had to be denounced, although there are probably many more practices going around in school these days that need denouncing.
I truly believe that for a decent society to survive, it is everyone's duty to correct what they know in their hearts is wrong! Most people tend to forget that children are just that, Children!


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