A teacher’s Reminiscences

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I was brought up in the North East of Scotland in the early 1900s. I attended the local Primary School and was the first girl to gain a place at the Senior Secondary School. Until then, the unchallenged dogma was that girls were incapable of doing the advanced study. So, irrespective of their ability, girls were sent to Junior Secondary School, where they were mainly taught in the domestic sciences. I still do not know how I achieved exam results better than any boy who had previously progressed to Senior Secondary School. However, they meant that the Primary School had no choice but to recommend studying at a higher level. My parents were overjoyed by this achievement, but it was not widely accepted. Girls had very defined roles in that ultra-traditional straightlaced society. They were required to be demure and, above all, obedient to their betters, that is, males. They had no entitlement to question the macho status quo or challenge the exclusive rights of boys. Instead, they were expected to be submissive and domesticated. To work at first as scullery maids, housemaids, servants, shop or office assistants or typists and eventually, to be housewives and mothers, the dutiful property of their husbands. Girls had no other options. So, I was ruffling feathers and upsetting this accepted norm. Also, the horror of horrors, I was stealing a school place from a boy.I can understand why many adults scolded me for getting above my supposed station in life. After all, I was defying the supposed idyll. But nothing prepared me for the shocking attitude of my schoolmates. I had expected them to be pleased for me, but this was far from the case.“Big-headed, toffee-nosed, and thinks she’s better than us,” were some of the kinder epithets used to describe me.I was a pariah during my last weeks of Primary School, so I was relieved to move on to Senior Secondary School. Not that things were easy there. There were only five girls in the first-year intake and only three more in the whole school. I do not know how these three survived in that macho environment, but they had and thankfully took us under their wing.This support network was vital because, from day one, it was clear that most boys thought that we had no business being there and did not hold back in making their views clear to us. Most of the staff seemed to agree. Somehow wearing a blouse and skirt was an indication of low intelligence. Therefore, any time spent teaching us was a waste of their ‘vast intellect and expertise’.This ethos meant that we were fair game for the boys. Skirt flipping, bra twanging, and copping a feel was just a small part of their jolly repartee. Despite our efforts to keep together and protect each other, we were all repeatedly subject to these horrible attacks.The harassment declined during the third term as class examinations came to the fore but then returned with a vengeance after the summer break when a new intake of girls arrived at the school. This increase in girl numbers, albeit still small, seemed to heighten the fear in boys that they were losing their birthright of dominance. So, they set about doing everything possible to demean and ridicule us. Sadly, this worked on one or two of the girls, and they left the Senior Secondary School, but most of us stuck together and coped as best we could.   I became a particular target of the boys during the fourth year because I was the senior girl and very vocal when any junior girls were having difficulties. This did not go down well, especially amongst the staff I had to cajole into acting against the miscreants. Unbeknownst to me, a nod and wink understanding developed amongst them that I was trouble and needed to have my wings clipped. I finally snapped after weeks of daily hands-everywhere harassment when I was surrounded by a gang of boys and had my skirt pulled down. They laughed hysterically at my distress and started baying “more, more” as their leader moved towards me.His hands were almost at the waistband of my drawers when he said, “Well, well, this is a bit tame. Let us see what is hidden under here.”It was my good fortune to struggle free just as his fingers touched my knickers. I shouted, “I do not think so,” as I struck out at him. There was a sharp intake of breath as the tip of my shoe thudded into the most tender of spots. This was quickly followed by a string of foul oaths as the boy then collapsed to the ground clutching his tortured groin.It was inevitable that an unsympathetic teacher saw these events. This was just the excuse that they needed. I was reported to the Headmaster and quickly found myself bent over his desk. Violence was a severe offence, no matter the circumstances, so the tariff was always high. The Headmaster, who previously was tolerant and understanding, really had no choice but to strictly enforce the School rules. He showed me no mercy, and I soon discovered that knickers gave little or no protection against the heavy tawse. After ten of its fiery kisses, my bum was burning, and I was blubbering like a baby.            “I hope you have learnt your lesson, young lady. Any repeat of that despicable behaviour and your punishment will be far, far worse.”The news of my thrashing quickly spread around the school. Many boys gathered to mock and laugh at me as I made my tearful way from the Headmaster’s Office.“You got what you deserve. You have no right bahis siteleri being here. Go back to the kitchen.”My distress only subsided once I was back in the company of the other girls. As they hugged and comforted me, the agony in my bottom settled to a tolerable level. I was angry at the travesty that I had just endured. But simply remembering the look of shock and horror on the boys’ faces as their macho leader was felled by a sissy girl somehow made it worthwhile.The events of that day had surprising but lasting consequences for all the girls at school. From then on, only a few of the more reckless boys bothered or harassed us. After all, they realised that we now knew how to bring them down and were unwilling to risk the devastating loss of face and credibility of being beaten by a soppy girl.That day was also a wake-up call for me. While growing up, my misdemeanours were either overlooked or dealt with by a mild tongue-lashing. I was never delinquent, but I did, in many ways, think that I could get away with anything. The short-sharp shock I got that day in the Headmaster’s office shattered my naivety and awoke me to reality. Every venomous strike of that tawse taught me that rules were there for a purpose and had to be obeyed to avoid swift and painful retribution. I was by no means an angel after that, but I knew the limits and never faced the Headmaster again.I did, however, encounter the educative properties of the tawse on one other occasion. Despite my general enthusiasm and drive, my interest in studies began to falter during year five. My classwork steadily declined in quality. This caught the attention of my form mistress, Miss Noble.“Your Schoolwork is well below standard. This is not good enough. You can do so much better. Why are you slacking off? Explain yourself, girl.”I struggled to come up with a suitable answer but eventually stuttered, “I have lost interest, Miss. I spend so much time studying that I have no time to be with friends, to socialise, to be more than just a book nerd.”“Hmph, so you want to throw away the unique opportunities that you have to waste your time on trivia. That attitude is unacceptable. You obviously need some extra motivation, and I know what is in order. Bend over.”I was utterly taken aback by Miss Noble’s instruction but knew better than not to comply immediately. As expected, she folded my skirt over my back as soon as I was in position. But her next move was a shock. Unlike the Headmaster, Miss Noble made no concessions to modesty and pulled down my knickers.“This is going to be a lesson that you will never forget.”I am no shrinking violet but to be so bare and exposed was alarming and frightening. I shivered with fear as I realised just how seriously Miss Noble took my present ambivalence to study. I admit that I had not been giving my best, but I could not stop myself for reasons unknown. Now, my bottom was going to pay an excruciating price for this stupidity.My anxiety was heightened even further when I saw Miss Noble take an extra heavy tawse out of her desk drawer. I immediately braced myself for the coming onslaught, but then nothing happened. This lull was a ploy by Miss Noble because she knew that I would soon relax, leaving my bum unprepared and at its most sensitive. That was the moment that she chose to unleash the vicious spite of the belt.The hit itself was sore but tolerable. However, the aftershock was not. I screamed as excruciating pain surged throughout my bum when the fiery stripe on the surface released its accumulated malice. This torment became unbearable as the second, third, fourth, and fifth lashes left more burning stripes across my behind. I was sobbing uncontrollably and begging Miss Noble to stop.”Please, Miss, please, Miss, I cannot take any more. I will work hard, I promise.”“Promises are simple to make and just as easy to forget. I guaranteed you a lesson you will always remember, and I keep my pledges. The tariff was ten, but now you have earned two extras for whining.”Amid the agony, I recognised that I was in more pain after five strikes from Miss Noble than after the whole tariff from the Headmaster. Unlike him, she clearly had no qualms about flaying a girl and was not holding back. How could I cope with seven more? I did, but my bottom was on fire, and I was reduced to a gibbering, sobbing wreck before Miss Noble finished her motivational lesson.          “Get up, girl. Remember this torment any time that you feel that less than best is good enough. I can assure you that I will not let you get away with it. You know what you need to do to ensure that this does not happen again. Now, go through to my restroom, tidy and compose yourself, and head off home.”  I spend some considerable time there before I felt that I was in a fit state to leave. As I walked through Miss Noble’s office, a wave of pain surged through my bottom, and I grimaced. She said not a word, but she did at least let me leave by the back door to her office so that I did not have to run the gamut of oh-so supportive boys.Over the next six weeks, most of my compatriots also fell afoul to Miss Noble’s remedial tawse. The only difference was that they got it on the panties rather than on the bare, being it was the first time for each of them. We all hated Miss Noble with a vengeance from then on, but her tuition did the trick. We refocussed on our canlı bahis siteleri studies and got high grades for the remainder of our time at school.During my final year, I noticed that a few fifth-grade girls hit the same melancholy, almost airhead-like phase that we had gone through previously. They received the same corrective tutelage from Miss Noble as us, mostly with equally effective results.Much to the dismay of most in the Secondary School, we girls matched or exceeded the boys in English, Mathematics, the Sciences and History. This was not due only to motivation by Miss Noble. Although most of the staff had little time for us, four forward-thinking teachers noted our commitment to study. They took us under their wing and gave us additional tuition away from the boys. This tutoring was crucial because it allowed us to speak freely without dealing with boys’ disparaging comments if we got it wrong or did not understand. It allowed us to study in peace, debate the subject, and coach each other.All five of us qualified to go to the University, a first for the school. On my last day, I went to see Miss Noble to apologise for my behaviour and to thank her. By now, I realised that her actions had not been malicious. She was desperate that I achieve my potential and saw that painful shock as the best and quickest way to bring me back to my senses.“There is no need to be sorry. I knew that you would be upset and angry with me. At your age, I loathed the teacher who thrashed me for the same thing. I do not know why some of the cleverest girls go through a brain fuzz, but I have seen their hopes for the future snuffed out if they do not quickly snap out of it. Girls are allowed no second chances. The macho great and good are just waiting for them to fail so that they can say ‘we told you so’. I am sorry that I had to beat you, but I knew that it was the only thing that would work. You responded in the best way, and I am delighted. I wish you all success in the future.”“I understand. I do not know why my studies faltered, but I am grateful that you took things in hand and encouraged me to buck up my ideas. I want to make you proud.”  A good teacher can make a lasting impression on a pupil. Miss Noble certainly did on me, not just on my bottom but on my whole person. From that agonising day onward, I always strived to give my best in everything. Any time that I was tempted to dither from this path, the memories of Miss Noble’s fiery tawse would remind me not to be so stupid.We girls stayed together as a group while attending University. I studied the biological sciences and found my situation far better than at school. Some males were antagonistic, but the majority treated me as equal once they knew my interests. After I completed my degree, I worked for four years in a research laboratory before teacher training. By then, I had realised that the career options for girls were still restricted. It was essential to get more highly qualified girls into the workplace to break the glass ceiling. I decided that I could best help by teaching and encouraging girls in academic study.I was enthused and optimistic when I began my first teaching position. However, it was a baptism of fire in a Junior Secondary School. I had a class of rebellious fourth-tier girls who had no interest in education and certainly did not want to be there. Three young teachers had already tried and failed with them, so who better to dump them on but a newbie fresh out of teaching college.I had just started my first rollcall when a ruckus, instigated by Jenny Smith and her two hangers-on Joanne Smyth and Mary Beaton, broke out. I knew that I had to act quickly. If I did not immediately stamp my authority over the class, I would never control it. So, I called all three girls to the front. They practically swaggered their way to my desk, clearly to show everyone that they were not afraid of me. As she reached my desk, Jenny even held out her hands in readiness for the belt.It is no understatement to say that they were utterly deflated when I said, “No, no, girls, there has been a regime change. Bend over my desk.”“What, what? But that is not fair.”“You misbehaved in my class. My rules apply. Get into position now.”The girls did not make as sound as they settled themselves in place, but each gasped aloud when I folded their skirts over their backs to reveal their pantied bottoms for all in the class to see.I could have given the girls the belt over their skirts, but I followed the sage advice from an experienced teacher. “There is nothing is quite so demeaning or status-busting for supposedly tough girls than having their classmates see their underwear. Even the most-timid of girls will have no qualms of reminding them about the eye-catching show.”Luck was on my side. There was much sniggering in the class when they saw that Jenny, Joanne and Mary were wearing sweet girly panties rather than the unfeminine regulation knickers. Everything went quiet when I picked up the heavy tawse, but there was a collective gasp when the belt released its spite into Joanne’s bum. She shrieked at that first strike, wailed as the second hit home, and was sobbing profusely when the third left its fiery imprint. Then I told Joanne to get up and go stand facing the blackboard.Mary was now shaking when I moved behind her and was sobbing buckets after three thunderclaps canlı bahis had rung out around the room. She made the mistake of rubbing her bottom as she made her way to the blackboard. This meant that her skirt did not slip fully down, so everyone in the room got a good view of the bright red cheeks peeking out from under her briefs.Jenny had not reacted in any way to these events. After all, she was formidable. Jenny merely grunted as I applied three hard strikes to her bottom. Then she relaxed, thinking it was over and that she had won. This meant that Jenny was totally unprepared and screamed as I rapidly applied a further three strikes onto the same places on her bum as the first three.The cumulative agony pushed her over the edge, and she burst into tears. I told her to stay where she was and think about the consequences of her bad behaviour. This was salutary for her and for the rest of the class because her pink knickers could not mask her bum cheeks’ bright red glow. The commotion had caught the attention of several people passing by my classroom. I even saw the headmaster look in through the window. He gave a nod of approval before he went on his way.In today’s world, my actions would be considered brutal and an abomination, but corporal punishment was a necessary fact of life in those days. Had I not brought these girls to heel, I would have lost control of the class and allowed them to disrupt and ruin their futures and those of the whole group. The tactic worked. Jenny became almost the model pupil. In hindsight, this spanking was a first for her. It was the wakeup call that broke her rebellious bravado and encouraged the real Jenny to come to the fore.Also, my pupils now knew that if they misbehaved, there were to be no soft options. They would get the tawse on the behind, with the only question being how many and how hard. This resulted in the group becoming one of the quietest and most attentive in the school. Only two other girls tested my patience sufficiently to merit close acquaintance with my tawse throughout the year.Naturally, I was now feared and hated by the class in equal measure. Still, compliance allowed me to make changes to their teaching. They were never going to be highfliers, so traditional education was airy-fairy and of little relevance in their everyday world. I adapted the course content to encompass questions and problems that they would experience in real life. For example, arithmetic and mathematics are far more interesting when couched in terms of purchasing, portion sizes, purchasing and costs of items in a standard shopping basket. This led to a change in the girls’ attitude to study. By the end of the year, my class had as good metrics as their third-tier counterparts.I would have loved to try out these new teaching approaches with higher ability girls. Yet the following year, I was once more allocated a class of the supposed lowest achievers. They were in the main a quarrelsome and combative bunch and in no mood to cow-tow to some no-it-all teacher. Sadly, this meant that I had to introduce about a quarter of the class to the tawse’s behaviour-correcting properties over the first two weeks.This included three bossy and belligerent girls who tested the water several times before the increasingly painful consequences of their bad behaviour got through to them. Thankfully, once they got the message, they settled down and began to behave acceptably. Then, as in the year before, I had the opportunity to tailor the girl’s coursework to practical relevance. The whole class then worked hard, fared well and far exceeded any expectations for them. Of course, my status as a crabbit teacher was also sealed.“Do not mess with ‘Miss Tawse’. Your bum will endure the not so loving kiss of her belt if she gets annoyed.”This reputation had advantages. Few girls dared misbehave in my classes, a reality reinforced when they saw the quick and painful retribution that I meted out to the rare miscreant. Indeed, often as not, my tawse only saw the light of day to motivate girls who were parachuted into my class due to their disruptive behaviour elsewhere. The disadvantage was that it was difficult to get the girls to come out of their shells and express themselves. That took time, but once they saw that I was fair and wanted them to understand and succeed, they became more outgoing and assured, which pleased me no end.Teaching for girls at the Secondary Modern School was not about encouraging inquisitive minds. Instead, it was geared to providing the necessary knowledge to be servants, maids, secretaries, shop assistants, and eventually housewives. I tried to broaden the educational experience for my girls. However, I faced resistance from colleagues in the school and from parents who did not want their daughter’s heads filled with ‘worthless nonsense’ or thoughts above their station.Given my own experiences, these archaic attitudes were troublesome. Fortunately, I quickly realised how to play the game. My girls were taught all the expected subjects in the usual way. No-one then paid much attention to any extracurricular projects that we did together. This allowed me to introduce the girls to some basics of the physical and social sciences. Just to see the early seeds of curiosity about their place in the world take hold was a great reward. I had no illusions that these inquisitive instincts could be squashed by society’s will. Still, I hoped that a few girls might slip through the net. Thankfully, several did and went on to have lives and careers that far exceeded anything that had been expected of them. 

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