Friday, 29 March 2013

Spare the rod

Disclaimer: I do not support corporal punishment! My opinions in this post are only about the result of not having it. 

While several studies have shown that corporal punishment is effective for behavior modification in humans and animals alike, I still believe in alternatives to corporal punishment in class room environment. 

However, the more I interact with students, teachers and principals in the traditional school system in the affordable private school setup; I question the need for it.  

If you are an 80’s or a 90’s born kid from India, I can bet you were spanked at least once in your life time and even remember the incident clearly after all these years. Even though I went to some of the best schools around India growing up, I remember there being at least two teachers every academic session who we dreaded because of their skills with the wooden stick or iron scale. But when I look back at school, the strictest teachers were also the best at their subject, attained best class results and were also few of my favorite teachers.  They were not my favorite because they got sadistic pleasure out of beating me up but because I know they did so because they genuinely cared. 

When I went to school to visit my old teachers recently, they told me about how our school’s no-corporal-punishment rule has changed the classroom set up and what a big adjustment it has been for them. Seeing the strictest teacher in school with no stick and narrating an incident of how she got into trouble with the management for “pressuring the student” for not doing his homework after a complaint by his parents, made me re-think my recent seminar on alternatives to corporal punishment in the affordable private school I am working at.
In the APS sector, it is disheartening to see over use of corporal punishment that still exists from nursery till 10th class with the same intensity and is shocking for my fellow non-Indian co-workers. I was outraged seeing the degree of abuse the students face, especially the tiny tots. After my presentation the school saw some changes like use of impositions or suspension instead of physical methods but also saw increase in verbal abuse. Teachers believe that no amount of counseling will help. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

The other day 5 android tablets donated to our school were grandly stolen through double locks and a 10th class student is being suspected for the theft. But in spite of having clear evidence he is not being sent for police interrogation since our school head feels it is too much pressure on him this close to the exams and shows me an article from the newspaper this morning about how a 12 year old killed himself over 20 rupees (front page The Hindu, dated 7th march 2013).    

I see the present generation’s arrogant teenagers with their I-know-better-than-you, don’t-give-a-damn attitude and it makes me wonder how my parents would have reacted to it twenty years ago. I feel old using “the present generation” in third person but it concerns me to see the way they are turning out. The kids today have weak minds emotionally and thus resolve to weak measures like ending their lives over petty fights, teenage love and being caught stealing instead of facing their problems.  

When I see this shift from when we as students were scared of teachers to how teachers are scared of students these days, it makes me believe it is indeed because we spared the rod.


  1. Nope. It's a bad thing to hit children. While it may seem like it makes children stronger, more often it just ends up desensitizing them towards pain. Their pain and every body else's pain too.
    If teachers are a little scared of children, it's alright you know, small thing, they can figure out ways to handle it. If kids are scared of school, and they're being sent to it everyday, don't you think it's terrible? They wouldn't know what to do about it. I've had some pretty mean teachers in the town lick me.. and they seem like they're venting out all the torture their husbands put them through in the morning on us. I'm not kidding, the hierarchy really looks like it.. the male hits the female and the female hits the child, the child harasses smaller/ lesser privileged children.. and boy, violence is a bad thing. It just doesn't stop where it begins.
    About the generation's mind set, our parents must've thought the same about us. They probably had to go through many hardships just to reach the school. Well, they tried to make it easy for us, and we try for the coming generations... that'll probably just change their immunity. We may not be able to recognize their strengths, but they just might have a stronger resistance to heart breaks or something else. ;)

    1. Hey Yushka,

      Thanks a lot for your post. Like I said before, I am definitely completely against corporal punishment. There are clearly other ways to deal with indiscipline. That's exactly what I tried to incorporate in my school via the alternatives to corporal punishment program.

      I like your plausible explanation about the chain of abuse. Which brings up a whole other topic of women oppression in India. Couldn't agree more with the generation gap bit! So true.