Tag Archives: teacher

a punishing exercise.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson from Glasgow – January 2022)

I loved my school years. I enjoyed the social and sporting opportunities it offered me.

I suppose I was reasonably well behaved during time at Bearsden Academy. Only on a handful of occasions did I merit punishment by ‘the tawse,’ a two or three tailed leather strap slapped down on a pupil’s palm by the teacher.

No, I’d say I was probably more of a Second Division miscreant compared to some. The penalties though, for the lesser misdemeanours I would be busted for, usually involved tedious ‘punnies’ – punishment exercises.

Oh how I longed for promotion to the Premier League of Naughty on many an evening, stuck in my bedroom writing out six hundred word interpretations of a scene from a Bertolt Brecht play. Or copying the Periodic Table with all those daft wee numbers, letters and I think, colours. Had I been given a couple strokes of the tawse, teacher and I would have been quits. I may not have fancied playing wicket-keeper in a game of cricket up at the pylon, but the warm and sultry summer evening would have been mine.

Those type of punny were given by fair minded teachers with (a) not enough justification to give the belt, but (b) a degree of imagination and hope that the exercise would be an aid to learning.

The majority however were not so creative, and routinely demanded ‘x’ number of lines, repeatedly reminding me of why I was not out in the street playing kerby with my pals.

(‘x’ would ordinarily be anything from one hundred to five hundred, unless being punished by the maths teacher, when you had to work out the value of ‘x’ for yourself – with more lines to follow if you got it wrong!)

‘I must not talk in class.’ 

‘I must remember to bring my homework.’

‘My homework wasn’t eaten by my dog – I don’t have one.’

Mind numbing stuff, that.

I did once attempt the Beano-esque trick of binding several pens together with an elastic band and thereby writing three lines at a time. It’s not as easy as it looks! I think the expression these days would be: ‘hashtag fail.’

Instructed to write the line ‘I must write larger,’ by my English teacher, the little smart-ass in me decided to write them on a piece of paper cut to a shade bigger than a postage stamp. Fifty lines to each side.

It took me ages! Far longer than had I written such a simple line in my normal, or even slightly larger, handwriting. Miss Hunter also made this observation the following morning as she immediately scrunched up my miniscule paper and laughing, tossed it in the bin below her desk.

She’s laughing with me, not at me. She must fancy me!

(All us second year lads were not only overloaded with raging hormones, but also suffered delusional episodes.)

I’d sometimes chance my luck and submit the punny a good few lines short. It didn’t really matter that omitting ten, twenty lines, whatever, would save me only a matter of minutes – it was the challenge of getting one over the teachers. I mean, hadn’t they far more important things to do with their time than count the words / lines?

Looking back, I’m certain I didn’t dupe any of them, but as it happened, everyone was a winner: teacher had asserted authority; cocky and rebellious pupil believed they had made a fool of teacher.

Truth was, teacher just couldn’t be arsed.

I did though, and sometimes still do, wonder at the randomness of the punishment. It would certainly have helped us pupils had we known the exact tariff for certain misdemeanours. Like when did a ‘one hundred lines’ penalty blur into three hundred? Or five?

For instance, had I known I would get three of the belt from the Assistant Head for merely being caught holding a snowball, I’d have made damned sure I quickly offloaded it at the head of the dude who’d just creamed me with one moments earlier. You know – like Pass the Parcel at kids’ parties – just get rid as soon as it’s in your hands.

Yeah, maybe some teachers were a bit quick on the draw with the tawse. And maybe some did abuse it. And yeah, it probably has no place in the society we live in today.

I didn’t mind though. My mum was a teacher in a pretty rough part of Glasgow, and would show me her Lochgelly belt. She claimed not to have used it very often, but I do know she had absolutely no sympathy when I told her I’d been given a short, sharp reminder as to my behaviour in class.

(I think my ol’ man was secretly rather pleased … in the absence of National service like he had to endure, this would instil some discipline, and develop character.)

I suppose I could have just kept my head down during the six years of secondary school and come through it all with an unblemished behavioural reputation. But only five feet four inches at the height of my academic achievements, anything that could further shorten my appearance was a non-starter.

And you know what? If there’s one thing discipline at school taught me, it’s that writing sentences of up to nine words long, one hundred times over, is a dawdle.

This article, for example, amounts to only 952 words. That’s just marginally more than your average ‘punny.’ Granted, it may also be just as entertaining as one – I’ve not had much sleep over this New Year holiday.

So, anyway, it’s over to you, dear reader ….anyone like to write the equivalent of a hundred lines?

Or do I have to get the belt out??!!

_________________

world – swallow me up, now!

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson, of Glasgow – February 2021)

I’m no psychologist, but I reckon that of all the emotions a human being can experience, embarrassment must rank one of the worst. For a start, you can’t control it. It happens. Usually because you’ve made a right klutz of yourself. Though it’s not simply the act of being dolt-like that triggers the reaction.

It’s more down to where you perpetrated this act of idiocy.

You see – In Your Home, No One Can Hear You Being A Klutz.  It’s the presence of witnesses to the lummox-like behaviour that activates the adrenaline rush, speeding up your heart rate and dilating the blood vessels to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery. Blushing, in other words. Or word.

In effect, the emotion of embarrassment is controlled by others’ perceptions of your action.

Obviously, as we get older, we care less of what people think of us. (Oh, sorry – just me then…?)

 However, having to put on your first pair of reading glasses in full view of an unsuspecting class of twelve year olds, while conscious of the communal hushed intake of breath – that’s embarrassing.

As a thirteen year old lad getting his first knock-back when asking for date from a girl you fancied? That’s embarrassing.

“How did you get on?” your eager friends would ask.
“Oh, she can’t make it this week because she’s got to wash her hair,” you’d reply, genuinely believing it. And you did – until you plucked up the nerve to ask again and had to report the same excuse to your pals once over. Now that was embarrassing.

As a half asleep and bored pupil, calling the Maths teacher ‘Mum,’ would have been embarrassing enough. But Mr Blair was not one to let these things go and for the next thirty minutes he certainly made the most of your discomfort.

You certainly didn’t fall asleep in his class again, that’s for sure. But, yeah – that was embarrassing.

Nothing, though, and I mean absolutely nothing, comes close to the sheer indignity and embarrassment of one incident in Year 5 at Westerton Primary. I’m actually cringing as I write this.

I should first explain that the three brothers who lived across the road from me went to a private school. When I was bugging my parents to take me to see the latest Man from UNCLE film, they were looking to extend their intellectual knowledge by going to museums and art galleries. They knew crazy shit, like Vincent Van Gogh, Rudolph Nuryev and Tchaikovski.

So one morning, Miss Wotherspoon rolled the school TV into class and we had a lesson about the people and traditions of some exotic Indonesian island. I say ‘some’ island because truth be known, I was sorting out the ‘swaps’ from my Batman bubblegum cards under the desk. I hadn’t a clue.

When the film ended, teacher asked the class, “Now children, where is Bali?”

I instantly perked up. I’d just been speaking to my neighbours at the weekend. I knew this. I thrust my hand in the air.

“Miss! Miss! Miss!” I grunted as only an over enthusiastic ten year old can.

“Colin?”

“It’s at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow,” I blurted.

I can still sense about thirty young heads turning my way. Then the laughter. Oh, the laughter! But it WAS at the Theatre Royal, wasn’t it?

Even Miss Wotherspoon was knotting herself.

“Colin – that’s the ballet! Not Bali, the island. Now, who was paying attention?”

Billy Elliot wasn’t a thing back then, thank goodness. But have you ANY idea what it feels like to be a ten year old, West of Scotland lad, in the mid-Sixties, whose football obsessed peers think you’re into ballet? My ‘beamer’ turned puce. My shirt became plastered to my body. I was almost in tears.

And come playtime, nobody was interested in my Batman ‘swaps.’ They only wanted to see my cabrioles and pirouettes.

God, I hated my neighbours.