The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and I were watching television listening to a news report and I simply broke out into laughter.
“What are you laughing at?” my wife asked.
“I’m just thinking of Mrs. Ammon. When I went to school we didn’t need any armed guards, we had Mrs. Ammon and nobody crossed her.”
The news report went on to say how they were trying to put armed guards at every school in our country. I suppose that is a good idea, I do not know all the ins and outs of the politicalness of that report. Everything these days seems to have some kind of a political angle to it. Now that political angle is intruding itself into the public school system.
This is all an attempt to protect our school children. I am all for that.
I was thinking, however, that when I was a youngster we did not need that sort of thing. We had Mrs. Ammon and her infamous hickory stick. Very few people remember a time when a teacher had, as one of her tools for education, a hickory stick and knew how to wield it, and wield it they did.
Somebody may ask how I know about that. Very simply. I am the product of a teacher wielding the hickory stick. It is hard now to remember the occasion that called for the application of that hickory stick. Actually, there was more than one occasion calling for such teacher and student interaction.
The old saying was that our teacher would apply the “Board of Education” to the “Seat of Learning.” Believe me when I say, I earned a degree in that.
Somebody will say, “Things have changed.”
I will agree that things have changed, but most things have not changed for the better. Back in “the day” when I was a member of the public education system, the teachers were in charge. A basic rule in our house prevailed, “If you get a paddling in school, you get a paddling at home.” It was assumed the teacher was right.
I distinctly remember my first interaction with my teacher in this regard. How can you forget such a thing?
At that time, teachers were too busy to put up with any kind of fooling around in a classroom. Do not get me wrong, my teacher made it fun most of the time. For the ones who, like me, took it too far, she knew how to stop it dead in its tracks.
“Mr. Snyder,” the teacher would say in a very stern tone of voice. “Is that you making all that noise?” I knew what was to follow.
“Mr. Snyder, please go to the principal’s office and I will join you shortly.”
Oh boy. Those familiar words bring back haunting memories of my visit to the principal’s office. You can be sure; Mrs. Ammon would not come into the principal’s office, spank you and then go back to her class. On some occasions, I would have preferred her to spank me and get it over with.
The first thing she had to do was explain to me why what I did was wrong and disruptive to the class. Then, she had to explain to me how this paddling I was about the cat was going to hurt her more than it did me.
For the life of me, I could never figure out where it hurt her more than it did me. I knew exactly where it hurt me and for the rest of the day it would be quite difficult for me to sit down in my chair. Not only did my posterior glow in pain, but the snickers of my fellow students were even worse.
At the time of the application of the hickory stick, I really did not like Mrs. Ammon. Looking back, I have a different perspective. I now know that she really had an interest in me as a person. She was trying to discipline me in ways in which I needed discipline from someone like her.
Years later, I went back and visited my old teacher, Mrs. Ammon. I took to her some books I had written and published. She said she remembered me, I really do not know if she did or not. I had to do one thing and that was to thank her.
“I want to thank you, Mrs. Ammon, for teaching me to read and to write.” Then I handed her my books. She seemed to be so very happy, but not as happy as I was. This teacher made a difference in my life that I did not realize until I was older.
One thing Mrs. Ammon taught me was that I should not get away with anything. There is a moment of accountability everybody must face. Mrs. Ammon was making sure that I was facing up to the realities of life before I did too much damage to my life.
It is sad that the politics have taken over our education system today. It is sad that we do not have any Mrs. Ammons with their hickory sticks.
When I think of Mrs. Ammon I think of what Solomon writes, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes” (Proverbs 13:24 KJV).
It is my opinion that we need more Mrs. Ammons in our school classrooms and less, a lot less, politics.
Been there, done that. You briefly mensioned the reinfoursement at home. Been there done that too! Ouch on both occasions. And like U there were more occasions than I care to share. old Memories but missing today N schools and at home.