Simpsons Chalkboard Punishment

The video shows many instances of Bart Simpson writing on the chalkboard (e.g. I will not burp in class). Is there a way to properly refer to this punishment? I can't think of a single way to say this in a normal sounding way.

  • 1
    One hundred lines! Oct 3 '20 at 15:13
  • This punishment is so archaic at this point even the correct answers like 'writing lines' will be completely unknown to the vast majority of native speakers.
    – eps
    Oct 3 '20 at 18:54
  • I certainly had to write many lines in my time.
    – copper.hat
    Oct 4 '20 at 3:40
  • @eps: I'm in my mid-twenties and I remember having to this in elementary school in Germany on more than one occasion, although I don't think we had a word for it.
    – Peter
    Oct 4 '20 at 13:57
  • Personally, I prefer your term, "chalkboard punishment." To me it was instantly obvious to what you were referring; much more obvious than "writing lines." Oct 4 '20 at 15:37

This punishment is commonly referred to as "writing lines," which can refer to doing so on a chalkboard, a whiteboard, a piece of paper, etc. I'm not sure if anyone has tried to have a student serve this punishment on a computer with copy/paste disabled, but I think the term would apply to that as well if they did.

If you wanted to be more specific to doing so on a chalkboard, "writing lines on a chalkboard" would be clear, idiomatic English. For example: "The teacher made the student stay after school and write lines on the chalkboard."

  • 11
    When I was a schoolboy, England, 1960s, for punishment we were given lines e.g. "a hundred lines" and we had to do them in our best handwriting, using a fountain pen. An example might be "I must learn to restrain the impulse to call out in class". My father told me that in the 1930s he had to write lines in copperplate writing. Some boys tried to save time by preparing sheets with lines starting "I must". One teacher must have got wind of this, because he made an unruly class write 100 times, "The wise man fears the teeth of the monkey". Oct 3 '20 at 8:52
  • 5
    Writing lines was used in some English schools at least into the 1980s… (Don't ask how I know!) Though type of pen, and writing style, weren't specified, and it was always on paper. Also, we called it a ‘blackboard’, not a ‘chalkboard’; the latter seems to be an Americanism. (TCD and Wiktionary don't say so, but C21D and the macOS dictionary do.)
    – gidds
    Oct 3 '20 at 15:39
  • Honestly I don't think any phrase will be "commonly known" at this point. Anyone under 40 probably will give you a blank stare.
    – eps
    Oct 3 '20 at 18:57
  • 2
    @eps It's called "writing lines" in Harry Potter, so anyone who's read Harry Potter will be familiar with the phrase. Oct 3 '20 at 21:59
  • @gidds I'm American and have always called it a blackboard, even when it was green.
    – shoover
    Oct 4 '20 at 2:31

(West Coast AmE) I know these as standards, or writing standards (on the chalkboard, on paper, etc). I think doing standards is acceptable, and I've seen copying standards as well.

I'm not finding these exact expressions easily in dictionaries, but this usage of standards is roughly:

2 a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment:
They tried to establish standards for a new philosophical approach.
5 standards, those morals, ethics, habits, etc., established by authority, custom, or an individual as acceptable:
He tried to live up to his father's standards

Here are a couple of sites showing the usage. I noticed there was some confusion in the first forum, which leads me to suspect this usage might be regional.

  1. At an in service today, it was suggested that removing a student from the class and having them sit and copy standards or pages from the dictionary was a good consequence for misbehavior.
    Copying standards as punishment
  2. I definitely remember having to do that in elementary school (1st grade, particularly), but as a whole class, not individually. I don’t recall anyone ever being singled out for that punishment a la Bart Simpson. 1
    Whenever this happened, we all had to sit at our desks and write on our paper; no one ever wrote anything on the chalkboard. I can’t remember any specific sentences (or “standards” as they were called), but I’m sure they had to do with whatever misbehavior was being committed immediately before (e.g., “I will not be disruptive in class”)
    Do you remember being forced to write 100 sentences for punishment during school?
  3. What you are referring to is called “writing standards” in the U.S. An example of that is to make a child write, “I will follow directions in class.”
    Is it acceptable for a teacher to make a student write lines as punishment?
  • 6
    I could believe this is regional. I've never heard this term myself, growing up in the northeastern United States, but I also don't think I've ever heard of anyone actually using this punishment in real life. It makes sense, as you suggest, that "standards" might refer to specifically copying out a rule (i.e., a standard), rather than repeated writing of any phrase.
    – Ryan M
    Oct 3 '20 at 6:07
  • 3
    Agree likely regional. I've never heard of the term "writing standards" -- it was always "writing/doing/copying lines" in the mid-Atlantic where I grew up and once had to do this on the board in recess detention. Oct 3 '20 at 12:26
  • 1
    Non-US speaker here, and I had to re-read the term a few times to understand that "writing standards" in this context literally means "writing (the existing) standard" instead of "standards of writing (something)" such as this article explains.
    – Andrew T.
    Oct 3 '20 at 18:20
  • 2
    I live on the west coast of the USA (have lived in all three states) and have never heard this.
    – Kat
    Oct 3 '20 at 23:17
  • I didn't expect my answer to be a widely recognized term, but I thought it might benefit some researching "writing standards" in the future to find my explanation here. This is interesting as I'd never heard of "writing lines" before in this sense.
    – Em.
    Oct 4 '20 at 9:13

To me the clearest is "Mrs. Crabapple made Bart stay and write 'I will not burp in class' fifty times." (or you could add 'on the board/chalkboard', or 'in front of the class' if they are still there. If you are just describing this one case, go with that.

I like the other answers here in terms of how you would describe the event in general - standards, if the student has transgressed some general rule of good behavior. The school may have its own list of ideals they strive to impress upon students, and they might refer to it as the school's standards, credos, creeds, or mottos. Alternately, a teacher might make them write something more relevant to a topic they are studying. And 'lines' or 'sentences' are more general options.

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