19th Century Teachers’ Guide To Rekindling Classroom Mirth After Flogging Students With Rulers

This is not a season of luxury

  1. Tell A joke — These are farm children, familiar only with privation and slaughter. The shock of merriment will sponge away recent memories. Soon, they will associate the ruler with laughter and will rejoice whenever it appears.
  2. Lead A Lamb Into The Schoolhouse — The unpleasantness caused by punishment will be replaced with joy when the children meet their new acquaintance. Have your students name the lamb. They will know they should not, for this is spring, but when you insist, they will understand you mean to save this lamb. As a result, they will warm to you and heartily enjoy their etiquette drills.
  3. Wheel In Your Iron Maiden — Withhold explanations. Stand the mechanism in a corner, facing outward. It is essential that the children know you possess an iron maiden. Its presence will remind them that they are not currently within the iron maiden. They will count their blessings and gladly memorize and recite essays from Hygiene For Young People, written by their favorite union: the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.
  4. Invite Your Lawyer Son Into The Classroom — Have him remove his gloves and reveal that he too was brought up by the rod of correction. When the students observe that one does not require functional hands to be successful, their hearts will soften, becoming receptive to geography.
  5. Start A Fire — Do not touch the coalscuttle. Use neither cordwood nor the stove. This is not a season of luxury. Ignite a coat. Select from the multitude of spare coats hanging on the pegs, those garments abandoned for various reasons: smallpox, measles, whooping cough, ringworm, and canine madness. The warmth of the burning coat will gladden the children, as will the diversion of extinguishing the fire before all the coats burn, and the building.
  6. Stage A Visitation By The Devil — When a hand bathed in blood slaps the window and then composes in cursive on the glass, “I Am Satan,” the children will conclude that learning cursive in the schoolhouse with you, though you are stern, is far better than learning cursive outside, and then in hell, with the Devil.
  7. Pantomime A Fit — As the children attempt to insert the fit-stick between your teeth and stop you from convulsing and suffocating on froth, they will wonder if they caused the fit. This will produce good fruit: shame. Therefore, once you are composed, wiped off, and your undergarments changed, your students will be pliant and obedient scholars, zealous for arithmetic.
  8. Employ An Armless Child — Equip the child with false arms concealed within her sleeves. Call her to the front of the room. Strike her imitation hands for ten minutes longer than the hands of the child most recently struck. This will create an atmosphere of cheerful reflection. The suffering of the young guest will remind your pupils that there is always someone experiencing far greater anguish. The children will consider the mild lesions on their own hands and be ashamed of their former sulking.
  9. Enlist Church Members To Shelter Beneath The Schoolhouse And Instruct Them To Moan And Then To Stop Moaning When You Tap Your Foot Thrice — The children will be awed into jubilance by your authority over spirits. They will delightedly complete any task, so long as you continue reigning over ghosts and preventing ghosts from rising through the floor.
  10. Remove Your Executioner’s Mask — The mask you don for corporeal punishment will eventually cause your students to believe you are a different person, but only if you consistently refer to yourself as “Miss Styx” while masked. Remove the mask and claim ignorance of the existence of Miss Styx. Your students, comforted upon seeing you again, and pleased that “the other” has once again returned to perdition, will cordially memorize local history or master needlework, depending on the sex of the child.
  11. Have Old Farmer Farrington Visit The Schoolhouse — He seeks his lamb. Though the ruler is still hot from its latest use, the enemy now is Old Farmer Farrington, not you. Plead with him to spare the lamb. He will not, of course. It is spring. But the children will admire your efforts and the shaking of your head while Old Farmer Farrington slaughters “Pip” on your desk. Clearly, you were a friend to Pip. Weep, and the children will welcome their spelling lesson.
  12. Speak In Tongues — After you have finished speaking in the secret language of angels, a church elder in the attic will proclaim the interpretation. The children will believe this is the voice of the Lord: “With trembling, be joyful, yet hold thy tongue. Love thy teacher. Furthermore, and with thanksgiving, take out thy abacuses.”
  13. Remind Your Pupils That One Day A Deadly Lung Fever Might Strike The Nation And World Forcing All Children To Receive Their Education At Home Which At First Will Seem Wonderful But In Time Will Cause Children To Despise Their Parents And Invoke The Lord’s Wrath Which Will Take The Form Of A Sinful Idleness Of Spirit Leading To Brain Palsy And Mania And Ultimately Will Bring Forth A Desire For Anything Even Physical Pain To Remind Them That They Are In Fact Alive And They Will Say To The Mountains Fall On Us And To The Hills Cover Us And To Their Parents And The Lord Please Let Us Return To The Schoolhouse Forever Even If This Means Occasional Daily Beatings, Bring On The Beatings, They Will Say, Only Deliver Us From The Gnashing Emptiness Of Our Dull And Loveless Homes — Repeat as often as necessary.
  14. Wheel In Another Iron Maiden — And another. Continue until the students agree it is a good time to be enthusiastic about grammar.

A poverty-stricken, soft Batman. Here are some drawings: And here’s a blog:

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