Inspiration from my 6th Grade History Teacher

Let’s just say it was a real “slap in the face”

This post may shock some of you, no doubt. I will begin by saying this happened in 1979. I cannot imagine this happening today. If this happened today it would be considered an outrage. People would be fired, there would be counseling, maybe even a lawsuit. Thank God it happened in 1979. And yes, it was a literal slap in the face.

The boy got what he deserved

I was 12 years old in 1979 enrolled in a public school in suburban New York. Sitting in my history class among 20 other kids, I was taught one of the most memorable lessons of my life. And it had nothing to do with history.

There was a class discussion going on, although I cannot remember the topic. There was a lull in the noise when the boy behind me – let’s call him Joe (because that was his name!) – uttered a derogatory remark about me. He intended just for me to hear it, but that’s not what happened.  The sudden quiet in the room caused his remark to be heard by everyone, including our teacher. That’s when this boy got what he deserved.

What was I going to do about that?

That’s the question the teacher asked me. I know I didn’t have an answer. I was embarrassed and mortified. What Joe said wasn’t true, but that didn’t matter. So the teacher told me to “turn around and slap him.” So I did. And then he told Joe to apologize, and he did. Then he told Joe to stay after class, and he did. When the bell rang I was outta there, and I was a hero. No boy in that school ever made me feel uncomfortable again.

Imagine almost 40 years later and that incident has never left me. I hope it didn’t leave Joe either, and my hope is that he is as thankful to that male teacher as I am.  Now I don’t go around slapping people when they say something mean about me. That wasn’t the lesson. But it was in that moment that my self-worth sky-rocketed.  I was being taught to take care of myself. It doesn’t get more valuable than that!

Karate for girls

Anyone over 50 can back me on this. In 1979 there was nowhere near the plethora of activities that are available for kids today. Our choices were football (for boys), cheerleading or field hockey for girls, and basketball for both. There was only one martial arts school within 20 miles and it was a little scary.

Now kids can join or participate in practically anything. From coding to curling, rock climbing to karate, there is something for everyone. As a female martial arts school owner I can tell you that every time a parent signs up their young daughter for lessons I remember the day I was taught a most valuable lesson. It makes me so happy to know that there won’t have to be a circumstance in her future when she is without her parents and has to take care of herself, but won’t know how.  The irony in taking karate lessons is that she may never actually have to be physical to defend herself.  And that is also the best part!


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