ADHD: Classroom Discipline When I Was a Kid

From The Complete Far Side, Volume One, by Gary Larson, p. 310

From The Complete Far Side, Volume One, by Gary Larson, p. 310

This cartoon sparked a memory. I was an ADHD kid back in the day when ADHD was not known or understood. Back then Little Jonny was "lazy, distracted, disruptive, creative, a class clown, was smart and tested well but never did his homework and got bad grades." This combination usually led to the need for Little Jonny to be frequently disciplined. We didn't have IEPs back then to accommodate for different "learning styles."

Instead, I received the following discipline methods on a regular basis:

  • Writing sentences on the chalkboard. Classic. I wrote a lot of sentences. A lot. No, really. I mean a LOT of sentences.  
  • Cleaning desks. That was a logical consequence: I got caught doodling on them, I should clean them. I doodled a lot. I washed a LOT of desks.  
  • Cleaning the blackboard and banging erasers against each other to shake loose the chalk dust.  
  • Being sent to the principal's office. Considering how much time I spent there I think I should've had my own coffee mug with my name on it like he did.  
  • Staying in for recess. That sucked. 
  • Being sent to the library to copy pages out of the dictionary. I actually liked that one. I think that affected my love for words, my good vocabulary, and dictionaries. I copied a LOT of dictionary pages. Going to the library was secretly never a punishment for this book nerd. 
  • Teachers calling my parents. 
  • Detention.
  • And after school detention.
  • The paddle. With air holes. For speed. For faster and harder paddling. I got a "paddlin'" a good number of times. 

I don't resent any of those discipline methods. None of them scarred me for life. They didn't know how to help me and they didn't know I had ADHD nor what ADHD was back then. Some teachers were more understanding, encouraging and effective than others. I remember those teachers and am grateful for them still to this day. Other teachers sucked. Discipline methods have changed with the times. That there are both great and sucky teachers haven't. That sadly seems a constant. 

So why am I sharing all of this? Partly just because it popped into my mind as an interesting "then and now" contrast. I'm also sharing it to encourage and remind you that kids like Little Jonny can turn out just fine. The kids that don't quite fit the system mold and are hard to manage might not really be a problem, it just might take a while for them to "come into their own." Many of the things that were once problems I was disciplined for are now the very things I actually get paid for. I'll talk about that in a future article. 

How about YOU? Anyone else get sentences or the paddle? How were you disciplined as a kid in your school?