Lessons From A Boomer Janitor
When news stories make you wonder which direction society is headed, don’t blame teachers; don’t point the finger at schools.
The last thing a teacher needs is feeling responsible for the coarsening of daily life.
Do we blame insurance salesmen for poor medical treatment?
Is it fair to stick Wall Street for Detroit’s auto making choices?
If we need somewhere to hang accountability, don’t measure a teacher’s neck.
Today’s problems don’t fall on them. Roll back the clock thirty or forty years and take note.
Some feel the bruised fruit we see today is a product of the permissive ‘60’s. They forget that during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, and earlier, teachers could whip the tar out of their students. Principals could apply the board of education liberally.
You can’t blame teachers for unlocking the ‘60’s freak closet.
Not the second grade teacher who ruled her class with a ping pong paddle. Not the fifth grade teacher who swung ‘Old Whistler,’ a perforated cricket bat, or the eighth grade science teacher who heated hind ends with a wooden Bunsen Burner base he swung with both hands.
Long hair and beards didn’t come from an academic’s beat down. Getting high didn’t begin with a trip to the school office.
A math teacher in 1969 worked a shift after school selling ties at a men’s store. He hit the parking lot when it was slow for a few puffs on a Camel. He always smelled like an ashtray in his classroom too.
Mr. Prusmiller ruled his class with a fear that didn’t come from a paddle. He took a more hands-on approach. Girl problems in math class went to the office.
Boy problems got a headlock.
One student hazed a new kid at the desk in front of him with wet-willies and spit-wads in his ear. The new guy made the mistake of yelling before standing up and turning on the annoying kid.
He jumped up and turned but the teacher sprung over and wrapped his arm around the kid’s neck before more happened.
Together they walked down the aisle with the kid bent in half.
“Not happening in my classroom. Not here. Not the playground. Not the hallway. If you don’t want to spend the day with me like this, stay in your seat. Understand?” Mr. Prusmiller said.
No one ever answered. They couldn’t say anything if they couldn’t breath. Some tried.
“Mooflude-n-mair,” said the new kid.
“I’ll take that as a yes. Now be a gentleman and take your seat.”
Later in the term two boys fought in math class and left blood on the floor.
The story was one kid swore over the phone and the other kid’s mom heard. The fight came the next day. I cleaned up.
Kids today know they won’t face harsh punishment anywhere. Parents want to be their kid’s friend and teachers get the consequences. If breaking out the whip is wrong, so is the reluctance to accept responsibility for a kid’s actions.
The middle ground is somewhere between the two.