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Punishments and Penalties
The teacher used to have a status that compared well with that of a policeman. Their authority could be challenged at your peril.
Some of these "tools of torture" were legendary.
Some teachers were said to soak their leather strap in vinegar or salt overnight. Others, who used the cane, were reported to have the end of the cane split into small strips to increase their
If a student failed to understand something the teacher thought they should know, they could be given the "Dunce's Cap" to wear for the rest of the lesson. This was usually accompanied by standing in the punishment corner. Both of the above forms of punishment I feel we are better for ceasing.
Another favoured punishment was "writing lines". This was usually something like writing "I must do my homework on time" 50 times or so.
Some other punishments that were popular (with teachers, anyway) were standing in the corner facing the wall, and writing the child's name on the blackboard.
This was a magazine put out by the school, usually monthly or fortnightly, and contained items from and about the school and other related items, like up-coming sports carnivals.
Books called the "School Reader" were prepared by the Education Department. There were several levels of these, one for each grade level. They contained short stories, poems, and sometimes even a joke or two. The stories were read aloud in class by the students and poems selected by the teacher had to be memorized and verses recited by the pupils. Some poems would stay in our memory through our life. Go to the School Poems page to read some of these.
Each morning we were given a bottle containing 1/3 of a pint of milk to drink.This came in crates that held 12 or 24
There were only a limited number of sports that were played at school. In Australia these were footy (Australian Rules football) in the winter and cricket in the summer
(both for boys), and netball (which was called basketball then) for girls. In higher grades hockey was also played. Sports time was usually two class periods on a Friday afternoon.
Before school started for the day, students assembled in class-groups on the quadrangle, to be given a "pep-talk", update on special events etc. and to sing the
National Anthem. This was followed by reciting the Oath of Allegiance ("right hand over the heart"). To be late for assembly was a crime, as was talking or chewing during class or assembly time.
The three "R's"
In early grades, we wrote with a pencil on a sheet of paper that was handed to each child. Before we learned "real-writing" (or "running-writing" as it was called later),
we used pages that had ruled lines, plus a faint line in between alternate lines, to guide us to make all the letters a similar shape and size.
There were a few words for groups of items that were used, like couple (2), dozen (12), baker's dozen (13), score (20) and gross (144). Some are still used but others are rarely heard now. There are words that I, at least, never heard of for large numbers. I knew hundreds, thousands, and millions of course, and maybe billions. But it never crossed my mind that we'd one day talk about trillions, quadrillions, etc. right up to nonillions (1 with 36 zeros after it). Sure, we don't use them much now either, but they're there.
Most kids liked nature study, because it often meant we would get to go outside, to look for insects, plants etc that we could discuss or write about in class.
The School Bell
Nature Study classes in Australia often involved the Gould League of Bird Lovers. This was a non-government group with interest in protecting and preserving birdlife. Excursions
to parks or swamps organized by the school with assistance from this organization were very popular with the students. We signed a pledge at school that said :
The International Geophysical Year
In 1957 the International Geophysical Year was celebrated throughout most of the world, and great emphasis was placed on it at our school. We were given projects by the bucketload to
complete, mostly the preparing of charts and small books about the events. I was never very good at graphical work, so most of my projects were in the form of cardboard sheets with cut-out
pieces from the newspaper stuck on, with headings and a few bits of text around them.
I recall taking a BankBook to school and presenting it to someone, possibly a bank officer to make deposits or withdrawals.