Sunday, August 05, 2007

Corporal punishment in schools

There is an old saying, 'Save the rod, and spoil the child'. It has a simple premise, that unless you teach a child the right and wrong and what to do / not to do, and actually implement these instructions with some punishment from time to time such that the lesson is imprinted. You would also have heard of teachings in Catholic schools where the nuns would imprint morals into a person, and make sure that these are properly learnt through the use of corporal punishment. What actually is corporal punishment? It is the using of some form of physical punishment in an educational facility as an aid to learning. Sounds simple, does it not; it worked in the past, did it not.
Well, guess what, in the past, society had no problems with the usage of such punishment as drawing and quartering, cutting of the head, and other barbaric forms of killing as a death sentence. As society evolves, it moves away from barbarism, and learns better ways of doing things. As a part of this, there is a realization that letting teachers use canes / rods / slaps as a means of punishing a student is no longer acceptable; in fact, for every 2 students who improve from this experience, there will be many others who get scarred with this experience, especially if it happens on a regular basis. There are other ways of making sure that students learn, and usage of such punishment is unwarranted, and in fact, is illegal in schools.
Why such a fuss ? Well, here's one experience:

In a shocking incident, the principal of a school in Andhra Pradesh gave electric shocks to a 10-year-old student. Police in Tuni town on Saturday registered a case against the principal of a residential school run by a Christian mission. Police were on the lookout for the principal, who allegedly justified the punishment before escaping to evade arrest.
"The investigations are on to find out as to how many students were given electric shocks," he said. The incident came close on the heels of another one where a school teacher allegedly pushed a five-year-old student so hard that he injured his tongue badly. Parents of five-year-old K. Devi Vara Prasad, a student of lower kindergarten at St. Mary School in Nallakaunta, lodged a complaint with the police in this regard two days ago. Last month, the head master of a private school in Mahabubnagar district was arrested for allegedly chaining a Class III student as punishment.

Corporal punishment is also a short-cut to try and discipline rowdy kids, or in the above case, to use one's own logic. Once corporal punishment is seen as an easy solution, in effect you are depending on the logic of a teacher to practise the restraint; and this can have fatal effects. In a recent incident, a student was beaten by the teacher with a stick, and ultimately his lungs collapsed and he died.
Secondly, when students are small, they are easily impressionable, and using corporal punishment can make them retreat into themselves, and avoid school.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 9:32 AM