Sunday 25 March 2018

Corporal punishment.

Miss Kirkbride was the bane of our lives.   By golly you learnt your tables if you were in her class - and you learnt to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  And every morning you did ten mental arithmetics to start the day.    The 'sums' were put on the blackboard and you were given a set time to do them all in.   Then she walked round - when she got to you you stood up and she sat in your chair to mark your sums.   You knew how many everybody had got wrong by the number of slaps on bare legs you heard  - and you kept your fingers crossed that yours were all right.Did it do me any harm?   I don't think so and I can certainly still do mental arithmetic when it is needed (and chant my times tables).

What about the cane?  Well, by the time you were in Miss Kirkbride's class the boys had left and gone to the next village to an all-boys school, but my father used to play crown green bowls with the Head, Mr Laws and I was always a bit scared of him, so I guess he used it to keep control too.

Corporal punishmend has a chequered history and I believe is still used in parts of the US.   If this is not so then I am sure somebody will point it out to me.   Reading up about it the history of its abolition is a bit clouded.   As far as I can see it was outlawed in English and Welsh schools in 1986 (the birch, used in the prison system was outlawed in 1948 and rightly so).   It seems that it became illegal in state school here in 1994 and by 
the year 1998 in private schools too.   Do any schools still use it as a method of punishment?

There is an interesting article in yesterday's Guardian 'I was belted at school.   I felt it was unfair but was it harmful?'   

My son went to Public School in 1968 and the cane was used there - constantly.   He stuck the regime for one term, went back and after ten days he ran away - towards home.   A few weeks ago I asked him why didn't he tell us about the caning?  (we would never have sent him there or never have sent him back after that first term), and he said ' well, you don't tell do you?'   As far as I am concerned the whole episode still hurts.

There are many countries where corporal punishment is still used in schools.   Jack tells us that Poland banned it as long ago as 1783 and the Netherlands in 1920.   Are we so uncivilised that we couldn't keep order in schools without it?   What sort of training were teachers given?   In my long experience of teaching in secondary schools
I always found praise the best method of keeping order. 

Once going into a classroom of 16 year old boys in their ROSLA year so most unwilling to learn (it was the first time I had met them) I got them all to write a paragraph I had already written on the blackboard.   Then I walked round the class looking at their work.  One boy, who was notoriously difficult I knew, had the most beautiful handwriting I had ever seen.   I mounted it on the wall (it deserved it) and I can honestly say I had go really good relationship with him until he left, and afterwards, if I saw him in town he always spoke.   Simplistic?   Maybe so - but I know which method I prefer -


Gwil W said...

I forgot to mention rhubarb as mu suggestion for your garden plant. My rhubarb is now poking through. At least the top half inch is. It's a sure sign of spring.

I was caned, slippered, and once hit across the backside with the blackboard ruler which in two halves. I'd questioned Bohm's Law in Physics. How dare I? The teecher!s rage knew no bounds. A few kids were destroyed by our sadist pedagogues. I wasn't a model pupil and I wasn't a teachers pet and I wasn't beaten down by the system. On the last day of school I led small gang of half a dozen or so fellow sufferers into the centre of the school playing fields where we symbolically made a bonfire out of our school caps.

Rachel Phillips said...

I remember at a small school I went to for about 6 months there was a cane in the corner of the room. All ages of pupils were in one room together One boy of about 8 was regularly caned by the teacher who was in fact the vicar's wife and ran the school in the church hall next to the church. She was extremely strict and I was quite terrified of her although she taught me to read and write very well. Once I could do it she told my mother there was nothing further she could do for me and my mother was told to move me to another school. Even though I was only 4 at the time I can still remember seeing the caning which took place in front of all the children and happened many times. I was never aware of what the boy had done. I was terrified, even though I had nothing to do with it. There was no caning at the Convent.

Marty said...

I taught in an urban high school, and before that an urban middle school. Corporal punishment? We would have been fired, then arrested. (Or the other way round)
And kindness and genuine interest worked well much of the time.

Sandi said...

It seems so brutal to modern eyes. I like what Marty said above about kindness and genuine interest instead.

Midmarsh John said...

That brought back the memory of Miss Marshall, my teacher when I was a bout 5. When it came to sums we were allowed to get a sum wrong once. Get it wrong a second time and that meant a whack across the palm with a ruler. I well remember, when older, all those long division sums in £sd including farthings. The modern decimalised, calculator assisted, world has it easy these days.

Devon said...

I've lived in California all my life and do not recall any corporal punishment when I was a child, (except at home). Now days if a teacher so much as grabs a students arm to redirect them and a video surfaces, they will be dismissed and possible criminally charged.
I agree that taking a keen interest and positive encouragement often work well.

I am curious, I did not spank my children and had no major problems with raising them. Here in the US, there are those that strongly defend the right for corporal punishment at home (spare the rod, spoil the child), and those very much opposed to the practice. What are the customs regarding this in the UK and elsewhere?

jinxxxygirl said...

I'am 50 yrs old.. Once i was threatened with a spanking in school... After an explanation that i was new and did not know the dress code i was allowed off. But that terrified me.. I was not a child that was spanked at home and generally a rule follower .. Through all my daughters school days... she is now 30 she had a paper in her records that if she did something that the school felt warranted a 'paddling' then either i or her father was to be called and if we deemed necessary WE would come to the school and do the spanking.. I did not and do not feel that anyone else has the right to spank my child but me.. But you know i think the thought of her parents coming to the school to spank her helped her 'toe the line' lol We never did have to... I feel corporal punishment has not place in school..Children who cannot behave have no place there either.. IMHO Hugs! deb

Derek Faulkner said...

Oh dear, the nanny state rears it's ugly head again. I was caned, I was knocked out of my seat by one teacher and do you know what, it taught me that in that teacher's class, you concentrated on what he was trying to teach you, not mucking about with your mate alongside. Young children today, well versed at an early age in what their rights are, and aided and abetted by parents who encourage them to stand up against teachers, give a lot of teachers hell. I'm genuinely surprised that any one wants to be a teacher these days, especially a male teaching a class of young to teenage girls well versed in the art of hinting at sexual harassment. I think you might find that things have changed since your being nice to children days Pat.

the veg artist said...

My father used to tell a story of how, when he was in school in the mid 1920s, his (female) teacher knocked a boy off his chair, out cold, with a rolled up magazine. My father used to laugh about it, but were in no doubt that he expected us to do as our teachers told us. I'm afraid Derek is right, though. My husband is a school govenor, and things are vastly different these days. And the parents can be just as much trouble as the children!

Cro Magnon said...

I was whacked A LOT. Both senior boys and my housemaster had a go at me. When my own turn came to be the whacker, I whacked one boy and no more. It seemed pointless.

justjill said...

Primary school in the 50s I was rulered for running my fingers down the piano keys which stood in the hall we passed through. I have never forgotten but make a beeline for any unattended piano and have done so all my life.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such interesting comments so far keep them coming.

angryparsnip said...

I agree with Derek.
I was not hit at school but the saying out loud of how many you got right was painful.
I worked with many children and found the worst to be clones of their parents. Just awful. Perfect little snowflakes who know what they can get away with. And this was many many years ago in California land of l am right you are wrong don't talk.
Son is a Professor at a University in Japan but when he was younger and working his way up, he was able to control his classes without violence.

A Heron's View said...

I was slippered and caned all through school. In fact even today (65 + years ago) I can recall the sensation of being heavily caned on my backside.
The result was that it took me a long time to even socialise with school teachers as an adult. Today I realise that many of them were ex servicemen who had served in the war and were perhaps mentally and psychologically damaged.

Heather said...

I don't like the idea of corporal punishment, but do believe in disciplining (only my own) children with a smack, but only when necessary and after a warning. Fortunately it was something I hardly ever had to do, and we all still love each other.
My parents were caned at school but their classes were not interrupted by unruly class members. Having said that, the cane was not used at the schools I attended and pupils were well behaved during class time.
I think that perhaps teachers are not trained to keep control of a class, the emphasis being laid on their qualifications for the subjects they teach.

John Going Gently said...

I ability to search for the positive in something is a wonderful gift ..well done that teacher ! Well done you pat!
I live with someone who often always sees the negatives's hard work sometimes x

Red said...

I completely agree with your views on corporal punishment. It did far more harm that good. It left scares for life times. Being a good teacher is what kept things orderly.

Virginia said...

In New Zealand even parents are not legally allowed to hit children, and although there was a lot of howling from the extremes at the beginning, now it is accepted, and the few cases taken to court have been fully justified. I notice fantastic parenting in places like supermarkets, with parents getting down to eye level and getting their point across (No you are not having those sweets....) and almost 100% of other customers are supportive when there is a rare public melt-down.

As far as schools, corporal punishment went out a long time ago - I'm guessing 25-30 years ago, but the big education issue here is bullying. It's big in both boys' and girls' schools. And effective punishment/discipline for it seems lacking. There is such a process to go through to stand a child down, (or get rid of them) some of them seem to think they can just go on getting away with it.

I agree with you Pat, been positive, and treating children with respect as individuals works best (at least 98% of the time!!)

DUTA said...

I agree with how Jinxxxygirl feels on the subject - corporal punishment has no place in school, children who misbehave have no place either.
Schools today (not only in my opinion), have become toxic places with teachers pathetic figures trying to play God and parent, when all they can do is teach a specific subject.

Sue said...

I don't believe corporal punishment has a place in school, or at home for that matter, but I do believe very strongly that proper parenting is the most important thing for a well balanced child and that parents should work with teachers to make sure that their child is well-mannered, well behaved and doing their very best at school.

Too often these days parents take the child's side over what the teacher has to say. Teachers are not there to teach your child the basic ins and outs of day to day living, that is the parents job. Teachers are there to inform and educate and make sure that a child has a good all round education pointing them in the direction they need to go in to make sure they end up as well balanced individuals ready for the work place or for an adult life.

Some of my best memories of school are the ones when we had a strict but fair teacher, where the class was quiet and where the work was done. Praise was given out freely when it was earned and good work rewarded by it being shown to the class, but most of all EVERYONE was singled out at being good at something on a regular basis, there were no 'favourites'.

We were threatened with corporal punishment at junior school, the ruler for boys and the slipper for girls and a popular punishment was to make you stand with the back of your legs just a little bit too close to the headmasters coal fire. Your calves would be glowing for ages after a long telling off.

Ruth said...

There's no corporal punishment in schools in the U.S.!! Teachers can't even touch a student. A niece teaches in pre-school. There was a disruptive child who threw a fit, running around the room knocking books and toys off shelves. She couldn't discipline him! Her only recourse was to keep the other kids away from him.

I saw boys being spanked in school with a piece of board during the 40's. I was slapped in the face by my first grade teacher because I talked to the girl behind me while we were in line the last day of school, handing in our metal boxes of Crayola crayons. I was used to be slapped and spanked at home - parents would be arrested for child abuse today for what I was subjected to.

Did it affect me? It sure did - but you grow, manage to put it behind you, and carry on. I'm just not the person I might have been, I guess.

Elizabeth said...

Gosh! what a fascinating discussion.
I was spanked by my mother for being naughty and deserved it! but very little and not much.
As a teacher I never EVER touched a child in anger.
Once, when I taught in Peckham they had indoor playtime because of bad weather. I was monitor that day.The girls were not meant to run around like wild things. I was trying to keep order and one girl flew past me at a hundred miles an hour. So I grabbed her arm to slow her down. Then she clasped it to her and said I had twisted it .... so I sent for the nurse. Had to go to teach. Spent the next period having fits that I'd injured her.
Nurse later reported to me that THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH the girl at all....
I really think hitting children for any reason is awful.