Friday, July 09, 2004

Corporal Punishment

Since my 10 year high school reunion is coming up, I've been thinking about the school system. You know, ways to improve it. And let's be honest, most schools could use some improvement.

The answer is corporal punishment. We need to bring it back in a big way. Cast your mind back your high school days. Remember those classes where the teacher would spend 30, 40, maybe even 50 or more percent of class time just keeping order? I went to a fancy private high school, and not even the teachers there could control the classroom. It was bedlam. Grade school was just as bad. God only knows how bad it is in our overcrowded public schools.

I can remember endless numbers of classes where the students would make it impossible for the lesson to get taught. Occasionally you had a teacher who was a real putz and had it coming, but most of the teachers were decent enough. Remember seeing your teacher clearly at the edge of some kind of nervous breakdown at the hands of your merciless classmates? Think of how much more could be taught per day if the buffoons were put in their place?

What can a teacher currently do to restore order? Politely ask for quiet? Kick someone out into the hall? Threaten a visit to the principal? Kids aren't scared of any of these things. Teachers have no real tools to restore order. Eventually, they either lose their sanity or give up completely. It's time to put the authority back into the hands of the teacher.

When some ninth grade jackass in the back row won't close his mouth, the teacher (after an appropriate warning phase) should be permitted to pick up a dictionary with both hands, walk over, draw his arms back, and deliver a full powered wallop right into the side of the face. Enough force to send the kid flying out his chair with ringing in his ears, 5 minutes of dizziness and a 2 week bruise. Honestly, I would endorse this.

Cast your mind back to a school in the English countryside about 100 years ago. A room full of students during study hour, quietly working. One English boy, decked out in shorts, a blue school coat, knee high socks - drops his nib off the side of the desk. It clatters to the floor. The boy's face turns white with fear as the bushy eyebrowed headmaster looks up, privately judging if a caning will be necessary - and if so, how many strokes. But he decides just to arch his eyebrow as a warning, and study hour resumes.

Now contrast that to the modern overcrowded junior high class, where students call their teacher bitch and spend the whole class making sure nothing can get done.

There need to be consequences. Consequences a kid can understand. In the early grades, it should be simple. A ruler on the wrist, a slap on the face, or if necessary, a trip to the principal for a solid paddling. In junior high you graduate from the paddle to the cane, and teachers can up the ante to throwing books.

In high school, it's really no holds barred. Leave bruises, draw blood. Kids heal quick. They're great rebounders.

Look, the point isn't to make beatings a regular feature of the school experince. They're primarily a deterrant. Once you've been beaten once, you don't repeat the behavior. If you've received this correctional treatment in the early grades, you'll be much more likely to be a well behaved high school student.

Why are we all so opposed to corporal punishment? What's the downside? Parents who disapprove? Here's what you do. Make the parents sign a "you can beat by son" waiver. If they won't sign it, then take their kid - but at the first sign of trouble just send him home for a few days. If he repeats the behavior, he's gone. Kick him out. Now the parent will send him back and sign the waiver.

For girls, all the same applies, except you have to be a bit gentler. Have a headmistress administer the punishment, preferably directly on the knickers, using a hairbrush or slipper.

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