Grant McGee: Classroom punishments thing of the past

Grant McGee

There’s a news story out of Santa Fe about a shop teacher who allegedly locked up an unruly student in a storage area. Authorities say she could face child abuse and false imprisonment charges.

The story brought back memories of my eighth grade math teacher, Mr. Rigdon.

Mr. Rigdon had his ways to try to make you understand and digest math.

Mr. Rigdon walked the aisles between the desks droning on and on about square roots and “x” and “y” and whatever. If he thought you weren’t paying attention, like maybe you were looking out the window admiring how much Lydia Przewalskiorskidubanski had “grown” since the seventh grade or maybe you were at your desk dozing having stayed up too late the night before, then the back of Mr. Rigdon’s hand was coming down on your skull.

“FWAP!” There’d be this biting crack on your head that echoed down your spine to your toes. With no warning Mr. Rigdon had backhanded you on top of the noggin with his college ring. The thing was huge, probably a half-inch thick all the way around, with a square top as big as a quarter.

Now if you were really bothering the class as some 8th graders did, Mr. Rigdon would come to your desk, grab you by the collar, drag you to the back of the room and shove you in the classroom’s closet.

There were no cell phone cameras to capture the action, no thought of reporting him to anyone, no one to come and champion your case before the Supreme Court.

The Vietnam War was going on, Richard Nixon was president and Mr. Rigdon could throw you in the classroom closet, lock the door and leave you in the dark if he felt like it.

Yep, it’s a good thing Mr. Rigdon isn’t teaching here in the future.