The new boy initiation
The new boy suffered no ill effects on his first day at the Christian Brother’s school. Perhaps the mad Brother in charge of our class was letting the new boy settle in, so to speak. The second day, however, was different, but due to changing attitudes in Irish Education, the new boy was not struck once (or twice for that matter). He did, however, raise the wrath of the Christian Brother in charge of our class and had to be punished. It was as if we (the other children in the class) had to see that the new boy would not receive any special privileges. He had only recently moved into the school catchment’s area and had arrived with glowing reports from his previous non CB school. Arriving with such as message was not a good idea where the Christian Brothers was concerned because they saw it as a challenge to themselves to prove that they were the equal of any Catholic school in Ireland.
Christian Brother Training Methodology
Day 2: A bitterly cold day began as normal and at least half the class (some 36 boys, aged 8, were in each class) had tasted the black leather strap across their palms within the first hour. The reason for the CB punishment was usually to do with incorrect homework, being caught talking, or not paying attention in class. Sometimes you got hit for no reason at all. Talking in class was what the new boy did to get the attention of the Brother. But he was not slapped.
Smirking at a Christian Brother
After the second offense however, something had to be done to make an example of the boy (for the rest of us to observe and learn from). “I’ll knock that smirk off your face” said the brutish Brother in charge but he stopped short of boxing the boy’s ears. Old school habits die hard and this particular Brother, who was in his mid fifties, and had boxed many ears as part of his religious vocation. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a large, strong, able bodied man should use his fist to beat the head of a young innocent boy (especially when the boy never sees the punch coming and cannot duck).
Christian Brother Punishment
The new boy’s punishment was a new one (especially devised to welcome him to our school) and he was sent to the school yard and told to kneel down in the middle of the yard where everyone could see him from the school windows. The yard was entirely concrete and, so, was not too pleasant on the knees. In addition, he had to keep his two arms held out horizontally to the side. The Brother would bellow out the window every few minutes roaring “Keep your arm out straight boy, or suffer the consequences”. Most of the other kids thought that this was preferable to getting hit with the leather strap but we changed our mind as two hours elapsed before the Brother allowed the new boy back into the class. Did I neglect to say that it rained solidly for the two hours that the new boy knelt in the yard?
Christian Brother Edmund Rice
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