His job was to beat children. That’s all the government required of him.

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

Sometimes Europeans understand the USA better than Americans do. Frustrating to read:

Mr. Cobb was a giant, round man without much of a neck. “Bend over the chair,” he said. Then he took the wooden paddle from the wall. He swatted me on the butt three times at full blow. I teared up – out of pain and shame. After that, he signed a form stating, “corporal punishment, three times.” As always, he had left the door to his office open. The sound of the smack of his wooden panel, which could be heard in all the classrooms, was meant to serve as a warning to the other students.

I didn’t really understand what had happened. A friend told me that’s just how things work in the South. “Remember, the bible states: ‘He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him.'” When I told my mother about it on the phone, she said I should return to Germany immediately. But I’d gotten used to it – to the religious fundamentalism, the military-like drills and the pointless rules. To the fact that Mr. Cobb beat us and that, after six months of Spanish class, we had still learned no more than a handful of vocabulary and that in math in the 11th grade, we were still doing fractions. I stayed.

Mr. Cobb went on to have a successful career. Today, at age 45, he sits in the corner office of the Decatur City School District around 90 miles northwest of Oxford. He has a name plate on his desk with thick gold letters, and pictures of his wife and their children decorate the shelf. He’s the head of the vocational program for technical professions, meaning he no longer has much to do with young people. Right at the start of our interview, he says something that surprises me. “I spent three years in Oxford doing nothing other than giving students beatings. That was my job. I’m happy I don’t have to do that anymore.”