Godbey: Going to school sure has changed a lot

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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By Jack Godbey



When I think about my childhood, it’s hard not to think about my time in school. I have no idea how I survived it. Somehow, I managed to survive the speeding dodge balls that were whirled at my head as well as the countless social interactions that I tried to avoid but could not.

Back in the 1970s, when I was in elementary school, the issue of social anxiety was unheard of.  As a result, I was just seen as the weird little boy who didn’t talk much. Those issues were so severe that I remember spending my first-grade year in special education because they thought I had learning disabilities because I wouldn’t talk. That and the fact that I cried every single day for the duration of the school year didn’t help anything either.

It’s no wonder I didn’t want to go to school. My life up to that point was great. I stayed at home and watched Sesame Street. Cracked open the occasional Hi-C drink and chilled at the crib. When lunchtime came, my mother would whip me up an excellent grilled cheese and I would take time off from riding my Big Wheel to watch the “Price is Right.” Suddenly, I turned five years old, and my life in paradise came crashing down when I learned that I had to start school so much for the good life. I went from living like Liberace to dealing with bullies and being forced to color between the lines.

Folks in my generation talk a lot about how things have changed since our days of childhood and school has definitely changed.  For example, I remember when every teacher had their own wooden paddle in the classroom. Some were smaller, and others were essentially 2x4s with holes drilled in them to allow for maximum airflow. The teachers would have no problem bending you over in front of the class and spanking your little behind. Today, if a teacher looks at a student the wrong way, they cry home to their mommy because they are offended. Let me tell you from experience: you don’t know what being offended is until you’ve been whacked across the back side with a 2×4 while your classmates laugh at you as you do your best not to cry.

I have always enjoyed learning, so I didn’t mind attending class. My favorite time of the school day was lunch. I can almost still smell the fragrance of pizza drifting down the hall, sending me into a daze. We would form a line and pick and choose what we wanted the lunch lady to put on our plate. I never hesitated. I just told them to give me everything you got. I didn’t care if it was pizza, pasta, or spinach. I’d gladly take it, and it must have looked like a farmer feeding his pigs with the way I woofed it down.

When we think about how things have changed in school, there’s no bigger change than with smoking. I have to laugh a little when I think back that not only were we, as teenagers, allowed to bring cigarettes to school, but they also even provided a place for us to smoke between classes. Everything important seemed to happen in the smoking area. Relationships were formed, and bullies beat each other’s brains out as we talked about the new Journey album and made plans to go roller skating that weekend. Now, if you get within ten feet of a school with a cigarette, the politically correct police will be all up in your business.

Surprisingly, it was common in those days for students to bring all sorts of dangerous weapons to school. I’ve seen guns, nunchakus, throwing stars, and maybe an old grenade or two, and no one tried to hurt anyone else, and no one batted an eye about it. Now, you do that, and the Department of Homeland Security will have drones flying over your house.

I meant it When I said it was a miracle that I survived my school years.