In a world of X-Box, ADD, ADHD, HDTV, gangs and Five Pentium hard drives, there is a school where there are no discipline problems, where students still address their teachers with "Yes, sir" and "No, mam" and male students never hit the toilet seat in the bathroom, or make a mess.
Mayberry Middle School in Mayberry, North Carolina is that place. When asked what Mayberry's secret is, Social Studies teacher JC Jackson says while pointing to the courtyard through his window:
"See that guillotine over there? The kids think that it is for them. If things are starting too get loud in class, all I have to do is raise the blinds a little until one of them sees it and remembers that it is out there and reminds the others, or the glint of it's stainless steel blade winks at them through the window on a sunny day. "
According to assistant principal, John Malcome, Mayberry Middle is the first school using historical artifacts from the Middle Ages to enforce discipline. "It's a good match," he says, "Middle Ages for middle ages and it knocks out two birds with one stone. We put all our new teachers on the inner corridor where they'll have at least one window on the courtyard."
"But draconian measures of discipline are not popular in today's schools anymore," says Malcome who himself has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. "It's all about protecting the kids, but what about the adults who have to put up with them?"
As it turns out Social Studies teachers actually use the guillotine in their lessons. Kids are able to see how it actually works. A dummy is used for demonstration.
Along with a hanging platform that student's built themselves, a pair of stocks, a pillory and a whipping post, Social Studies teacher's are able to cover a lot of ground, from the Colonial Era through the Wild West.
"It's a wonderful resource they have there," said superintendent Bells Bumblefuss. "The kids worked hard on the platform.
But parents and members of the PTSA are concerned that their children may be suffering from the threat of such severe punishment.
"My child comes home from school and hides in his closet and doesn't come out for days. I'm not sure that that's normal activity for a twelve-year old."
But psychologists from the School of Mental Masturbation at the University of North Carolina said that parents needn't worry that the threats posed by guillotines were no worse than living in an age of nuclear weapons, Halo 3 and cowboy presidents.