Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

My assignment this week is out of town, so instead of sitting at my own dining table for breakfast, I headed to a local coffee shop nearby the school I’m visiting. As I was sitting at the counter, sipping my coffee and making a flaky mess with my almond croissant, I heard a snippet of a conversation from a group of three men sitting nearby. They looked to be in their mid to late 50’s. Or maybe early 60’s? I’m no good at guessing ages, but the point is they’ve been alive for awhile.

“My mom was a teacher. Teaching was different back then. You could hit a kid and it would be okay.” The men chuckled. The rest of their conversation was too muffled for me to make out clearly, but it didn’t matter. I was already seeing red. I can’t understand how it is that there are still people out there that think it’s okay to treat kids this way. It wasn’t really okay “back in the day” was it? I don’t think so.

Do you still hear things like this where you are?

  1. Greg&Linda says:

    Anyone who has ever gone to school thinks they know how schools should be run. Just because that’s how it was done “back in the day” does not mean it was a good practice! Ugh. Good job not yelling at them!

  2. Hearing that turned my stomach. I cannot imagine how awful it was to be a student “back in the day.”

  3. These types of conversations make me feel so uneasy. Your point is correct, it’s never been okay, just was acceptable.

  4. jaclynfre says:

    I was just thinking about this the other way at a coffee shop where my friend and I met and caught up on some very personal details on each other’s lives. I noticed as we were leaving someone sitting alone nearby who may have been able to hear the whole conversation. Re-entering shared spaces is quite a transition. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is repulsive and all too common. I hear similar comments and cannot stand the “back in the day” argument. Did the horrors that they experienced in their own school experiences somehow become (in their minds) a necessary part of learning?

  6. pfornale says:

    I make no excuses for such attitudes and remarks, but I do look for explanations. We grown-ups in general (though there are many individual divergences) have failed to create a world of meaningful, consistent, integrated expectations and experiences for children. This observation applies to homes and schools alike. It is natural for many of us to feel dismay; it is indeed an outrage to hear people who are not as invested as some of us are in the well-being of children making cavalier, insensitive comments. These people whom you overheard clearly have little understanding of what would truly benefit young people. More work for us, it would appear.

  7. arjeha says:

    Being a child of the 50’s and a product of catholic schools I lived through those old days and unbelievable things teachers were allowed to do. It was never OK.

  8. Lainie Levin says:

    I don’t overhear people talking this way, but like Stacey, I had a physical response to that comment. I also know that there still are places – some even public schools! – where corporal punishment is still a thing. I don’t get it. And I don’t *want* to…

  9. Amanda Potts says:

    Ugh – that’s awful. I get so frustrated with this kind of attitude. Once upon a time, when things were “good” many many students were excluded from our system – and even then, hitting children was completely ineffective. Grr. Hopefully your day improved from here.

  10. When I taught in Missouri back in the late ’90s, there was a boy who was taken to the principal’s office to get “swats”. They actually spanked him. And the parents were ok with it.

    It was then that I started thinking about moving back to Iowa!

    Crazy slice, Vivian! Thank you for sharing!

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