38. RENEE RESPONDS (AT LENGTH) & READER RESPONSES

Dear Readers: I have been anxious about this post for weeks because Jenny, Wendy, and Michelle are “taking control” of the blog as to the next installment of our responses to reader questions. And why am I anxious? Because I am the one on the “hot seat!” All three of our contributors have checked and taken note over the past few weeks of the questions directed at yours truly. I have not seen the questions in advance and therefore, will be on the spot. I have been assured that the questions are reasonable but pointed and direct. Well…here goes…

RENEE RESPONDS

First, what is a nice girl like you doing with a blog like teacherswhopaddle anyway?

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA (Giggle) Thanks for the “ice breaker” question, Jenny…I hope that’s your surprise question!

Hey, I did not seek to ever start a blog of any kind -Much less one about the use of the paddle in school. In fact, I started out as an anti-c.p. teacher because the idea of paddling children bothered me a lot. My first year in teaching, I nearly had a “falling out” with Jean, my teaching mentor, over the use of the paddle. I was the young idealistic teacher who found out that educational theory sometimes does not work in the real world of the real classroom. I clashed with Jean over classroom management and disagreed about her more frequent paddle-use until she took early retirement a few years ago.

Follow UP: what made you change your mind on c.p. in school?

I never really changed my mind on c.p. from “anti” to “pro.” Rather, I decided, after that first paddling I gave, that the only other alternative was suspension with the increased risk of academic failure. (See post RENEE’S HALLOWEEN AND FIRST PADDLING) More than anything, I never want to start a student’s slide towards academic retention because I know for a fact that students held back a year are much more likely to drop out of school later. And “social promotion” is not an option either since every few weeks, our grade records are turned in to the central office -I couldn’t give out “fake” grades to promote students even if I wanted to.

After giving that first paddling, how did you feel about it?

Horrible. I will never understand the contention of some that teachers “enjoy” paddling kids or worse -That some people get into teaching so they can use paddles on kids! As to the former, that first time was awful for me and I was depressed for days. (Does that sound like fun?) Actually, the paddling was quite mild and Greg was more embarrassed than anything else. I know that because the boy told me and was more fearful that I didn’t “like” him any more! It is then that I understood that a teacher must reassure a child when any school discipline occurs and then attempt tomake a fresh start.

As to those who think people choose teaching so they can paddle…they haven’t a clue! To become a teacher takes at least four years of college with all of the expenses that requires. None of us four came from well-to-do families and financial aid/loans got us through college. And the pay? Miserly! The hours? Long! We often work bus-duty before sunrise and do not leave until one or two hours after the last student has left! During the day, we get lunch break and that is shortened if we have to help monitor the cafeteria. Recess is a break only for the kids -NOT US! So the latter anti-c.p. delusion would be funny but at the end of the day we are too tired to laugh. And those summers “off” -We are all in graduate programs to keep up our credentials AT OUR OWN EXPENSE.

Has using the paddle gotten easier with time? Do you still feel the same as that first time?

I still feel bad about it and I’m sure the kids are aware of that too. But as I stated earlier, paddling is better than suspension and the risk of academic failure. The paddle really is the last resort for me with only about a dozen kids out of a total of 180 +/- over eight years! If I was anything like some folks think -I’d be swatting every day because my 3rd grade class is anything but placid! Same can be said for all of us -A student has to continuously and overtly misbehave before the paddle is even considered -And then they are warned about the paddle. There is NO reason for any child in our classes to fear being paddled because it is used so rarely. Only extreme profanity, fighting, and throwing dangerous objects at someone is paddling a possible first option.

Change up: What was your experience in school and growing up like?

I was just a normal, freckled-faced, red-haired tom-boy growing up in a typical southern mid-sized town in a middle income family. Very unremarkable. But my parents did push my brothers and me (The “baby” of the family!) to do well in school -Both academically AND CONDUCT-WISE. In late elementary school, I developed a “mouthy-mouth” syndrome that was “cured” not by a paddle but rather, by my librarian-mom’s 18″ strap! The first time, I thought mom was bailing me out of trouble and would have begged for the paddle had I known her plans when we got home! The second time was a “slip” of the tongue that momma’s sharp ears heard one day. After that, the “mouthy-mouth” syndrome was CURED! There was NO third time.

Follow up: As a “tom-boy” of sorts, you had some success as a softball pitcher?

Yeah…I guess. My record was so so but I first got into softball when my church youth program fielded a little league team. Besides, the local community swimming pool had group membership rates for youth baseball/softball and I loved that part! Clue everyone in on something we haven’t told readers: Michelle (An ex-little league catcher) and I are both little league umpires! Y’all should have seen the looks on the faces of the kids that were in our classes! Kid: Hey…You’re my teacher…What do you know about baseball? Me: Plenty…I played once myself!…PLAY BALL!…(The bewildered look on one student of mine’s face I will treasure for as long as I live!)

As to teacherswhopaddle blog, what was the biggest surprise that you did not expect?

Well, we all understood that TWP would “step on some toes.” But the anti-c.p. crowd had been stomping on the feet of everyone that differed with their crusade for years. The one criticism that did surprise me was of the misunderstanding of our laughter in TEACHERS WHO PADDLE about an article by Ted Gup. We never intended to laugh AT Ted Gup and what happened to him! My “laughing” was about what I thought was an exaggerated story of three foot long paddles (I have never seen one!), welts (From a paddle? No way! I know what causes welts -From personal experience!), and “not crying.” (Really? Then I guess we can tag #1 and #2 as literary hyperbole!) But regardless, we all feel that the paddling given to Ted Gup was excessive and probably abusive. We do not know the reason for the paddling but if I had been there, the paddling would have stopped as soon as it started. If Ted Gup did merit a paddling, he would have had no bruising or marks from me because that IS abusive.

Were you not surprised about some of the flak TWP took over links to Reb’s Paddles and Spank With Love?

On the Reb’s link, I expected some criticism but to read what the critics said, one would have thought TWP endorsed 5 foot long paddles with holes and who knows what else! I was actually counting on Reb’s to give TWP a request to drop the link because of our trashing of several of their products. TWP gave a thumbs up to only one paddle (THIN) and only a moderate rating to another (TAKE ALONG). (See post IMPLEMENTS & TECHNIQUES) The wailing about the Reb’s link does demonstrate that the zealots are absolutist in their anti-c.p. ideology with the only recommended paddle being no paddle whatsoever. So much for moderation, huh?

As to Spank With Love, we found it while looking for some “like-minded” sites and nearly rejected it out of hand. TWP has received negative comments about the front page of the site and that along with some other misgivings were the reasons we almost excluded it. But the problem was that we could not find anything similar with a positive view of c.p. within the home. TWP finally reconsidered when reading SWL’s disclaimers and discouragements of spanking and that link is still active.

(NOTE: Reb’s Paddles went out of business last year -Don’t blame us -and we have decided to do another post on “Appropriate Paddles” instead of a new link to a paddle maker.)

Finally, tell us about the “experiment” you did last year -The “Paddle Test.” What happened and what were the results?

Jenny!…You promised!

After last week’s ambush question -Turnabout is fair play! (Giggle)

(Giggle) Alright…I’ll fess up!

While the post HOW JENNY HANDLED A PARENT’S PADDLING COMPLAINT seemed to answer the question of paddling=bruising with a “NO,” I still was not 100% sold on the premise. Fact is, I do worry about the physical effects of a paddling. Not because of concern for legal liabilities since our state is a “Shield Law” state but rather my concern for the well-being of my students. That should demonstrate one and for all what I am really like: A person who cares about her classroom “kids” just like her own child.

Well, just as I told you last year, one evening I took my long paddle (16″ x 3 1/2″ x 1/4″) home with me. It is exactly like the on we made for Michelle (See post INTRODUCING A ROOKIE TO THE PADDLE) and looks a lot scarier than it actually is. Fact is, it is so light that if we used it like the paddlings some describe on other web sites, it would probably BREAK! And the reason I took it home? To find out for myself what that paddle actually does physically. And guess who was to be the recipient of an experimental paddling? YOURS TRULY!

That alone ought to convince folks of my sincerity in wanting to avoid abusive paddling. My husband John was a harder sell but I managed to cajole him into the experiment in my own “special way” -And don’t ask because I’m not telling! (Everyone: Giggle, Giggle, Giggle) Anyway, after tucking in Tyler, my 3 year old, we started our experiment: Three swats just like the way we do at the school. While I coached John as to technique there was one MAJOR difference: No blue jeans or cotton underwear. The only thing between the pale skin of my bottom and that paddle was my rather thin silk pajamas!

Bending over the bed, I did have a “butterflies in the stomach” queasy feeling and could see, in the mirror’s reflection, the paddle held at an angle just as I do when using it at the school. But I was determined to find the answer to my concerns and nodded for John to start. Three loud, stinging pops rang out. It did sting but at that moment I suddenly worried that our Tyler would start calling out for one of us! To my relief, he never did! So after reassuring John that I was o.k., I then checked my rear end in the bathroom. It was pink-red and stung a little but I would have gladly taken this over momma’s strap! My reaction was “This is it?…No bruising?…No marks?…And barely red with only silk pajamas for ‘protection’?” Also, the next morning I could barely see ANY evidence that there ever was an “experiment!”

Conclusion: The anti-c.p. zealots have either absolutely NO creditability or what is occurring in paddling abuse stories needs to be investigated. If the paddling photos shown on anti-c.p. web sites are real, authorities need to find out who, when, where, and how. I suspect these abuse photos are either evidence of real abuse not protected by teacher “Shield Law” or they are FAKE!

Woooooooo baby! You are going to hear from our readers about this! (Everyone: Giggle, Giggle, Giggle)

 

Dear Readers: We at TWP try to keep our promises and we did promise to publish some passages that show some examples of what TWP detests the most: Abusive school discipline. Our comments will follow the passages. We will accept future submissions by readers so long as there is no vulgar or obscene language.

 

MORE READER RESPONSES

When I was at the office for an early dismissal, I saw five students lined up to be paddled. One by one they each entered the vice-principal’s office. None of them were smiling and they looked like they wished for another option. I could hear the loud swats that each received and some were crying when they came out, Is this not abusive and if not…what is?

First thing, we at TWP are not advocates of paddling in secondary school because there are other alternatives that elementary schools do not have. (See post WHY TWP OPPOSES PADDLING IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS) The students should have been parked in I.S.S. because that is the most common form of discipline in both paddling and non-paddling state’s secondary schools. Second thing is the question of “involuntary” paddlings. I have my doubts about that part of the story. But regardless, the only possibility of c.p. at that level should be to avoid an out-of-school suspension and then only after consulting with the parents. Of course all protocol must be followed-Especially witnesses and same gender teacher to students.

My classmate says that the paddlings he received were very hard. He said they bend you over a desk and swing a 24″ paddle with both hands. He has had five paddlings and was told that each time the next paddling would be harder.

First, the paddlings were way too harsh. It violates two of TWP’s principles: In order for a paddling to be non-abusive, it must be moderate and sparing. A two-handed grip of a paddle increases the force and therefore, the severity of the swat. This violates our moderation criterion because the purpose of c.p. is to give an immediate but short shock and never more. Second, the paddle should never be something that is repeated over and over again. The idea of c.p. is to unpleasantly shock the recipient so it does NOT have to be repeated. We do wonder about the 5 times paddling had to be used. In this case, the effectiveness of the paddle can be seriously questioned -The assertion of “…getting it harder next time…” nonewithstanding.

 

COMING NEXT: AN OPEN LETTER TO JORDAN RIAK

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