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 -