A whispering stick was a kind of wooden bit gag that teachers in colonial America used to punish a child who had been whispering in class.
It consisted of a short length of stick or a flat board to which ends were two strings attached. The child had to take the stick in their mouth and the strings were tied behind their neck.
|“||Master Lyford was not always so severe in his punishment. He had whispering-sticks, which were thick pieces of wood to be placed in a child's mouth until it was forced wide open, and then each end of the stick was tied securely at the back of the scholar's neck in such a way that he could make no manner of noise. Sarah wore one of these nearly two hours because of whispering to me, and when it was taken out, the poor child could not close her jaws until I had rubbed them gently during a long while.||”|
|— MARY OF PLYMOUTH: A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement by James Otis|
- Childhood in Colonial America: Discipline
- How the Children were Punished, chapter from MARY OF PLYMOUTH: A Story of the Pilgrim Settlement
- Used the rod to teach the child, Chicago Tribune, 17 April 1904. OCR text