In So Many Words: Spare the Rod

Sometimes I like to step back from blogs about educational reform and schooling for democracy to indulge in my other love: word origins. Words have always been special to me, even as a child. Early on, I attributed magical qualities to them, believing that locked within were mysterious insights which could help guide me through life.

What you are about to read is a work of etymology from a comic series I wrote in a previous life called, In So Many Words.

Call it just so much bunk, gibberish, babble, and hokum–but do enjoy!

Spare the Rod, A Comic by Larry Paros
from the comic series In So Many Words by Larry Paros

Text only version

Spare the Rod

Eyes to the front! You there in the back — sit down!

Discipline is the cornerstone of the educational process. It originated with the Latin praecipere, praecept, “to take before.” Thus were created the precepts, i.e. those teachings placed “before” or “in front of” students.

Disciplina was instruction emphasizing the practice necessary to fully grasp those precepts. And there was no better group to spread them, dis, “around” — than a group of disciples.

According to the disciples of discipline, it’s still the purpose of discipline — to create the proper context for dealing with the disciplines or “major areas of knowledge.” We know it and welcome it today as the “maintenance of order.”

In the 1970s we “welcomed” back Gabe Kotter (Gabe Kaplan) to his old alma mater, via national TV, as teacher of the undisciplined “sweat-hogs,” a group of hopeless underachievers who personified for many what urban students were like.

This public’s perception of students as animals then contributed to the hue and cry for even more classroom discipline.

Unfortunately, the discipline required to train them derives from the Latin trahere, tract-, “to draw,” or “pull along.”

Educating them comes from the Latin ex, “out” and ducere, “to lead” — a real education being the process that draws out those talents already within. Anything less would be a real drag, man.

You can find more comics by following this link to In So Many Words.

Published by Kvetch Press, a Division of Neurobics, Inc.

Author Larry Paros

Illustrations by Sam Zaninovich

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced — mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system — without written permission from the publisher.

All violators will be towed or forced to repeat sixth grade.


Larry Paros has worked in the field of Education and Human services for more than 30 years both as a teacher and administrator. A pioneer in the creation of alternative settings, he is best known for his work with young people from varied ethnic and racial backgrounds in contexts of his own making. His book, Dancing on the Contradictions: Transforming our Schools, our Students, and Ourselves, will be available in September of 2019.

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