“Unnecessary Talking?”

1948-50s 221

The expectations for “deportment” were explicit throughout my school years. Children were to be quiet, respectful, attentive, and facing forward. Unless your pencil broke during an exercise, there should have been no need to sharpen it during class. You should have thought of that before class. You should time your bathroom needs to correspond to the recess times. Teachers had absolute authority, and there was no chance that your parent would come into school and take your side in any disagreement with the teacher.

Combined, these attributes were a challenge for all children. For me, the biggest hardship was being quiet. There was a subcategory of deportment called “avoids unnecessary talking.” A check mark meant improvement was needed. I got a check mark throughout my school years. Clearly teachers and I disagreed on what talking was “unnecessary.” We never discussed this, of course. I would always intend to correct this character failing, even though I really had no idea what it meant. I always thought that what I had to say was necessary. Why else would I be talking?

13 thoughts on ““Unnecessary Talking?”

  1. On our report cards in elementary school there was this one: ‘Refrains from disturbing others’. I don’t remember exactly how I rated but I’m thinking I probably needed some help in this area too. πŸ™‚

  2. This did make me smile, Elizabeth. I recall a comment on one of my reports “generally speaking, Robbie is generally speaking.” Of course, a teacher would never make a comment like that nowadays.

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