Whatever happened to …

… the strap?

It’s the stuff that legends were based on.  I remember walking to school with some much older friends and their conversation, obviously geared to scare me, talked about how the teachers would use “the strap” every time I did something wrong.  I can still remember being so afraid of what would happen.

It was a source for conversation when a classmate was detained at recess or after school.  We’d be there to ask “did you get the strap?”  Show us your hands.

At the time, I had never seen this feared device of punishment.  My understanding was based upon looking in books or in conversations with others.  I think I envisioned this huge whip like device like you see used by horse jockeys.  There was also a rumour that it was filled with tacks pressed through it to make sure that the most pain was inflicted and blood would be drawn.

It was scary stuff.  Even though I’d never seen it, I kept me on the straight and narrow.

Well, for the most part anyway.

I think I was in Grade 3 or 4 when I came in contact.  I don’t recall what I did or why I was singled out, but I was kept back after school.  The teacher, I still remember her for this, brought the strap out and sat down in the desk in front of me.  I remember two things from that encounter.

  1. Will she get in trouble because she was sitting facing the wrong direction?  What if she made the desk get out of line?
  2. The strap didn’t look all that intimidating.  It actually looked like a big chocolate bar.  I didn’t see any tacks in it.  How much could it hurt?

I suppose that that would based upon how angry the teacher was at me for whatever I had done.  So, I tensed up as I prepared for the worst.  As it happens, I just got a strict lecture and then got released.  My friends were bizarrely disappointed when I reported that I got off.

I became the best of students at least for a while after that event.   I did learn that the secret was to be sneaky and not get caught.

An extremely interesting read can be found in this document from the Canadian Education Association – Banning the Strap: The End of Corporal Punishment in Canadian Schools.  You might think that this is ancient history and might be surprised at the year where it actually banned the use in Canadian schools.

How about you?

  • Are you old enough to remember or have actually been disciplined by some form of corporal punishment?
  • Chances are, if you’re reading the blog, you’re an educator and did well in school.  What kept you honest?
  • What are the more effective methods of classroom management that work well for you?

As always on a Sunday, I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Please share them via comment below.

Do you have an idea or thought that would be appropriate for my “Whatever happened to … ” series of blog posts.  They can all, by the way, be revisited here.

Please visit this Padlet and add your idea.  I’d love for it to be an inspiration for a post!

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. I’ve heard of the strap before, but was never around to actually see it. The whole idea behind it seems contrary to what I find myself doing now: “building relationships.” When you spend the time showing children you care about them, and then they also care about you, behaviour really becomes less of an issue. Learning about self-regulation these past few years also makes me view “classroom management” differently: https://adunsiger.com/2016/01/20/looking-at-classroom-management-through-a-self-regulation-lens/. Thanks for giving me more to think about on a Sunday morning. Curious to hear what others think about this.



  2. Thanks for the refresher on the history of the strap, Doug. I was aware of where the strap was hanging in the principal’s office in my elementary school in the early 70s, but had forgotten when it was actually banned. I recall a few classmates and friends who were recipients of its force. My next school for my intermediate years did not have the strap, but I recall seeing some other “roughness”. It is still disturbing to think about it, even though it was somewhat still acceptable in the day…

    I think schools have come a long way in respecting and caring for children, but it seems the work continues on making schools healthy and safe places for all.


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