School Management - Punishments
( Originally Published 1897 )
Need of Punishments.-Law is useless unless it is observed. Obedience to authority is essential to good government. Lawlessness would prevail were every individual allowed, without restraint, to exercise his own self-will. Discipline in school requires that pupils should be brought under control, so far as possible, by means of such incentives as have been mentioned (Chapter IX.). When these fail, appeal must be made to the sense of fear, through the apprehension of mental or physical pain. Whatever moral suasion may accomplish in the home, it is insufficient alone in the government of the State or in the discipline of the school. Children hardened by neglect, evil surroundings, and parental mismanagement, will be little influenced by the higher motives. Something more than precept and example will be found necessary to quicken the conscience in the case of children in whose breasts the desire to do right has been imperfectly implanted. The teacher has not always the time, even had he the gift, to restrain refractory pupils by expostulation. Instances will arise when warnings and reproofs will remain unheeded, unless pupils know, if regulations are set at defiance, there may follow punishment-" short, sharp, and decisive." Some children would, moreover, feel them-selves bored if a moral lecture were inflicted on them whenever they did wrong. Less and less should punishment be needed as the teacher gains more experience. At length conscience should assert its supremacy, punishment should become rare in discipline, and the constant performance of duty should result in the habit of doing right.
Basis of Punishment.-The basis of punishment, as an expedient in school control, is the feeling of bodily or mental discomfort which accompanies its infliction. Pupils are led to take a certain course in order to avoid pain. When certain lines of conduct-as for example, inactivity, carelessness, untruthfulness or dishonesty-sae seen to be followed by reproval and by punishment, if repeated, the child tends to act so as to avoid the pain and discomfort resulting from such conduct. Punishments come, therefore, under the same form of stimulus to activity as rewards. There is this difference : Rewards are a recognition of merit and success ; punishments are penalties for neglect and failure. Rewards, if of a proper kind, associate both teacher and pupil in a bright and hopeful regard. Punishments tend to weaken that bond of good feeling which should be strengthened, as well as formed, between the teacher and the taught. Punishments should be temporary. Rewards should be lasting. In a well-disciplined school approval, sympathy, regard and happiness will be at a premium ; while punishments, regrets, sorrows and tears will be at a discount. Love, and not fear, will be the active force.
The Ends of Punishments.-1. The main object of punishment is to reform the wrong-doer. The State deals with adults, and hence punishment by the civil authority in its relations to the criminal is retributive and not necessarily corrective. It is possible more intelligent and humane views on criminology may cause nations to amend their penal laws with the object of making punishments more reformatory than at present. The school deals with children, and therefore school punishments, while they may be incidentally retributive, should be mainly reformatory. The main question with the teacher before inflicting deserved punishment should be, " What good will it do ? " If he were sure the guilty pupil would never again willingly or carelessly do the wrong, the best way would be to forgive. Once the necessity of punishment is established, the specific kind, the amount, the time, and the mode of punishment, demand careful consideration. It should be remembered that punishment alone can never effect what is required. The wish to do better must be an outcome of the pain felt, or else the punishment fails in its object. The use of incentives must follow the infliction of punishments, or the desire to do right will be weak.
2. Punishment should serve as a warning to others. This is the primary object of the State when adults are punished. The protection of society is that which is held mainly in view. The obligations of the school do not rest with the wrong-doer. It must have in view the interests of all the pupils, and therefore punishments should deter others from becoming offenders. By punishments other pupils are restrained or warned. As a consequence wrong-doing is lessened and law respected. Before inflicting punishment it becomes important for the teacher to ask, " What will be the effect on the school ? " If the punishment is deserved, but the warning not heeded, there may be no necessity for its use, as the wrong-doer may be reformed in some other way.
3. Punishment should serve to elevate the moral tone of the school. The moral tone of society is low when statutes are not passed to prevent prevalent crimes, or when crimes go unpunished. Public sentiment is embodied in legislative enactments. The nature of the criminal laws of a country shows the moral judgment of the people. It, is an evidence of progress when efforts are made by law to check an evil. Those who claim that " people cannot be made good by Act of Parliament " forget that statutes may be wisely passed to quicken the public conscience. When the violators of law receive punishment, what was once permissible, and perhaps respectable, becomes disgraceful and criminal. A law to prevent intemperance is a case in point.
Unless the teacher possesses such powers of discipline as will enable him to use the higher incentives, he will find it necessary to adopt some kinds of punishment to quicken the consciences of the pupils. There is danger, however, in giving much prominence to this, the third end, of punishment, lest the end may be made an excuse for its frequent use. As an instrument to educate the conscience, its use should, at best, be only temporary. The lawless and disobedient may need severe lessons to make them realize the culpability of their conduct, but the morale of an ordinary school should not need such educational processes.
Misconceptions Considered.--1. Punishments should not be vindictive. They should not be regarded as an expiation of guilt. It is too often assumed that the object of the penalty is the vindication of violated law. This assumption has given rise to the misconception that each transgression should be followed by its appropriate penalty. It is wrong to assume that a penalty, though deserved, should be inflicted. A pupil should never feel that the punishment he suffers has cleared off all scores for his crime. It should be understood that the pain inflicted is the means, but not the end, of punishment. To avenge the past, or to " settle an account," should have no place in discipline, It should not be forgotten that the function of a teacher as a judge, or an adminis trator, though important, is subordinate to his higher function as a reformer. In the capacity of a legislator, a judge, and an executive officer, the higher purposes of the missionary, the physician, and the leader, must be kept in view. His duty is not to avenge, but to cure ; not simply to reward or punish, but to form character. He must have heart as well as head. He must be just, considerate and sympathetic, as well as strict, firm and determined.
(2) Punishments should not be arbitrary. Formerly it was no uncommon thing for children to be whipped for whispering, making a mistake in a recitation, coming late to school, neglecting to write a composition, or breaking by accident a pane of glass. Threats, scoldings, blows, personal indignities, and bodily tortures of various kinds, were used as punishments without discrimination and with-out any regard to the principle involved. One pupil does not know his lesson, and his ears are boxed ; another tears his book, and his hands are strapped ; another talks too loudly, and he is required to put on the dunce's cap ; still another is impertinent, and he is compelled to write out several pages from a book !
Children punished in this way fail to see any logical connection between the offence and the punishment Their feelings of justice are outraged, and all sense of moral distinctions becomes obliterated from their minds. It is evident motives, the magnitude of the offence, and the object to be sought, should be considered. The pupil who interrupts the class, the one who destroys property, and the one who is untruthful, require different kinds of discipline. Dishonesty, truancy, quarrelsomeness, rebellion, and idleness, call for different modes of correction. °
(3) Punishments should not be the same for pupils of different ages, dierent dispositions, or different attainments. The physical, intellectual and moral development of the child must be considered in determining the degree and nature of the penalty. In the infant stages authority and love must hold pre-eminence. The punishments should, therefore, be prompt, and as a matter of course they should be very light. When the power of reflection and reason enable the pupil to anticipate the full consequences of his actions, the nature of punishments, like that of rewards, must change with his intellectual growth. With older pupils time for deliberation may be essential, and the purpose sought should not only be to reform the offender, but also to warn other pupils.
"Those therefore that intend ever to govern children, should begin it whilst they are very little ; and look that they perfectly comply with the will of their parents. Would you have your son obedient to you when past a child? Be sure then to establish the authority to the father as soon as he is capable of submission and can understand in whose power he is. If you would have him stand in awe of you, imprint it in his infancy ; and, as he approaches more to a man, admit him nearer to your familiarity ; so shall you have him your obedient subject (as is fit) whilst a child, and your affectionate friend when he is a man."-Locke.
Characteristics of Proper Punishments.-1. Punishmentse should be natural. This will be understood more fully after dealing with the " Discipline of Consequences." It is a fundamental principle of Divine rule, or Nature's government, that pain or loss follows the violation of law. A child should feel that each school offence has its proper penalty, which is the natural result of his own misconduct, and not the arbitrary exercise of power vested in the teacher. To deprive a child of his knife because he carelessly cuts another, to put a pupil in a lower class as consequence of his idleness, to compel one who breaks a school-fellow's slate to pay for it, and to require a boy who insults a stranger to make a suitable apology, would be to impose in each case a natural punishment. On the other hand, to flog a pupil for lateness, irregularity of attendance, or idleness, or to impose tasks as a penalty for whispering or inattention, would be to use a punishment not natural, but entirely artificial. Natural punishments are seemingly retributive, but they are mainly corrective. They appeal to a pupil's sense of right, and are free from the degrading results of punishments formerly inflicted by teachers. It is evident experience and judgment are needed in the selection of proper punishments.
2. Punishments should be certain. Spasmodic discipline produces the most injurious effects on child-nature. The penalty should depend on the offence and not on the capricious temper of the teacher. The offender who feels that detection is sure, and punishment inevitable, may be restrained from transgression. When a pupil begins to count the chances of escape from being detected in his wrong-doing, he is on the road to a life of crime. Children should have confidence in the integrity and uprightness of the teacher. They should also know that he has ability to detect and punish crime. The certainty of punishment does not imply any slavish uniformity in imposing penalties. Obedience must, however, be sure, whether it is secured by high incentives, or, if necessary, by unavoidable punishments. The freedom of the teacher in matters of discipline must not be restrained by prescribing a code for his guidance.
3. Punishments should be just. A child's sense of justice is outraged if a punishment is inflicted that is cruel or unnatural. All semblance of undue severity should be avoided. Whatever savors of ill-temper, or brutality, is to be unsparingly condemned. It is not the amount of pain inflicted, but the effect produced on the character of the child, that is the important consideration. Punishment should not be greater than is needed to reform the wrong-doer, or to serve as a warning to others. Justice requires that the age, sex, disposition and health of the offending pupil must be regarded.
4. Punishments should be deliberate. Anger or haste should be absent. Only in rare cases should a child be punished on the spur of the moment. There should be time for reflection. If guilt is not clear, time should be taken to secure proper evidence before a verdict is given. When guilt is established it will often be wise to consider all the circumstances carefully before the kind and amount of punishment are announced. The motive of the offender, his age, his disposition, his character, and the probable effect on the school, have to be kept in view. Doubtless occasions will arise when the teacher, who manages a school like the statesman who directs the affairs of the nation, must act with promptness as well as with courage and wisdom. On such occasions presence of mind is needed, and especially that tact which enables the good disciplinarian to use, at the time, necessary punishment, or to defer action, if preferable, until there is time for deliberation.
5. Punishments should be effective. Unless the ends of punishment are gained, more harm than good may arise. If the penalty is too mild it may be treated with laughter or contempt. If it is too severe the spirit of the child may be broken or his disposition otherwise prejudicially affected. Sham punishments are ridiculous and harmful. Unjust ones foster feelings of resentment. The effective ness, as well as the appropriaten ess, of the different kinds of punishment should be understood. The teacher must be careful not to estimate the culpability of a pupil by the amount of annoyance given. A child should clearly under-stand why he is punished. If he honestly believes he is innocent the penalty should not be imposed. The greatest care must be taken to prevent feelings of anger being cherished towards the teacher. A kind word subsequently uttered may show that malice is not entertained. Reconciliation should not be delayed, nor should pupils be continually reminded of their misdeeds. Punishment should never tend to lessen the power of that sympathy, good example, and love, which should be the controlling influences exercised by the teacher.
The Discipline of Consequences.-For many school offences there are punishments which are the natural consequences of the offences themselves. A pupil who injures some part of the school property is required to repair the damage. One who disturbs his neighbor should sit elsewhere. One who quarrels on the play-ground should be deprived of recess. On the same principle falsehood should be followed by loss of confidence; abuse of the privileges of the school, by suspension ; and open rebellion, by expulsion. Some faults, again, are best corrected by exercising their opposite virtues. For example, a slovenly boy may, for a time, be assigned the duty of neatly arranging the school apparatus; the use of politeness may cause a rough-spoken pupil to change his manner; restlessness may be checked by giving constant occupation.
In the "Discipline of Consequences," as set forth by Herbert Spencer and other writers, right conceptions of cause and effect are generated.. It is held that authority, as a principle of discipline, does not produce a correct standard of moral action, and that it does not prepare pupils for active life when removed from the restraints of parents and teachers. A violation of physical, intellectual, or moral law, has its peculiar and inevitable penalty. Such violations and such penalties are seen all around us. If a man leaps from a house-top, exposes himself to cold, breathes impure air, eats unwholesome food, neglects exercise, or disregards any other law of nature, he receives a punishment which is the direct consequence of his conduct. If any one of the intellectual faculties is neglected, or its power over-taxed, the penalty must be paid. In like Manner any violation of the moral law brings its own punishment. The thief, the slanderer, the drunkard, the gambler, all carry in their bosoms the pain consequent on wrong-doing. The prodigal wastes his substance, and feeds on husks ; the miser gloats over his gold, and his soul shrivels up; and the hardened sinner resists all "strivings of the Spirit," and he is abandoned in his hopeless lot. The law of nature is certain, but as Huxley remarks, it is "harsh and wasteful in its operation. Ignorance is visited as sharply as wilful disobedience; incapacity meets with the same punishment as crime. Nature's discipline is not even a word and a blow, and the blow first; but the blow without the word. It is left to you to find out why your ears are boxed." It is just here that the function of the school is apparent. It is the duty of the teacher to train his pupils so that their ears may be saved from being "boxed" when school life is over.
It is evident no training is effective that does not draw attention to the evil consequences of wrong-doing. Practical educationists are right in urging that in schools should be taught the evils of idleness, untruthfulness, intemperance, profligacy, and dishonesty. Such teaching is valuable, but it is not enough. Natural punishments are too weak for the purposes of the State, and to depend on them solely would be fatal to the moral training of children. Society is justified in adopting measures to protect itself, and artificial penalties are found sharper and more effective than natural ones. The defects of human nature cannot be ignored. In the case of children natural punishments are generally too severe. At an early age, to depend on the " discipline of consequences " would be cruel. To exercise authority, and prevent the child from going near the fire, is better than to run the risk of having the child burned.
" It is clear," says Crichton Browne, " that the system of natural consequences cannot be solely trusted to. Misbehavior is not always followed by disagreeable natural consequences that are capable of interpretation at that early age, and artificial penalties must be employed to establish the all-important association between pain and transgression, and to secure that submission which is the essence of discipline. To wait for the teaching of natural consequences, would often be to permit the moral nature to run wild, and to entail much suffering which might have been spared by mild but timely punishment of human imposition."
If all parents were sufficiently wise in the training of their children, no competent teacher would have any difficulty in discipline. It will be a long time, however, before the majority of parents will have much scientific acquaintance with the mental development of children. The professional ability of teachers, though improving, is not yet equal to the requirements for governing defectively-trained pupils. Until teachers of higher attainments are found in schools, punishments that are artificial, arbitrary, harsh, and even debasing, may be expected.
" It must however, be conceded that the successful administration of a system of natural punishment, in the family or in the school, requires higher qualifications in the governor than an artificial system. Any parent or teacher can slap, shake, or whip a child. This requires only impulse and muscle ; but it requires self-control, firmness, patience, ingenuity, and sympathy to sup-press the impulse to strike the offender, and effectually to enforce natural penalties.
" The experience of the schools shows that, as teachers increase in skill and personal influence, mild and natural punishments are found to be more and more effective ; and this indicates that all beneficent reforms in school discipline necessarily wait on the improvement of the teachers."-White.
Judicious Punishments.-Judicious punishments work in children a love for the right and a hatred for the wrong. They lead to the formation of correct habits, enlist the sympathy of the well-behaved members of the class, help to form a good public opinion, and command the approval of parents and trustees. It should be understood, however, that even the best punishments may be abused. A few that may be effective, if used judiciously, are here considered :
1. Loss of Honor.-Idleness, indifference, and disregard of the rights of others, are justifiable grounds for the withdrawal of the teacher's esteem. If a pupil is insolent, insubordinate or careless, he is not retained on the same terms of cordial friendship as before. Severer punishments may also be necessary. The estrangement, through loss of honor, if effective, must be felt in order to evoke signs of sorrow. Any indications of a desire for amendment and reconciliation must be carefully noticed and wisely stimulated.
2. Reproof. General reproof is the mildest in its nature, and, in the hands of a good disciplinarian, it is usually effective. The mere mention of the offence before the class, and the opinion suggested in some cases that the act was not done willingly, may be sufficient, without mentioning any name. The teacher will be respected all the more for showing his regard for the feelings of the guilty one. The other pupils are ready to condemn the crime without having their attention drawn to the criminal. The words used should show kindness, and will be more effective if uttered in a subdued tone of voice.
Private reproof may be necessary when a general reference to the offence will fail. A private interview, in which the evil consequences of wrong-doing were pointed out in kind language by a noble-minded teacher, has some-times been a bright turning point in the career of a pupil. A talk in this way with erring pupils convinces them of the friendship of the teacher, assures them of his efforts to save them from trouble, and encourages them to strive to reform. A boy's heart must be very flinty if it cannot be softened by kind, gentle, and affectionate advice.
Pupils should be expected to make any necessary reparation for injury done, and to apologize privately or publicly, as the circumstances require. Forced apologies do little good.
Public reproof should be administered only when the guilt is of the gravest possible nature. It is a cruel thing to break down the self-respect of a sensitive pupil. If the punishment is unjust, it lowers the teacher in the estimation of his class. Circumstances may, however, arise when discipline demands this mode of punishment. The public opinion of the school is powerful as a controlling agency. Cases may occur when the position of the teacher can be appreciated only by a public statement, in order that the offender may be corrected, and the honor of the school upheld. Censure should be used very carefully, and ridicule avoided when reproof is given. A little good-humored satire may sometimes be required to lessen exaggerated self-esteem, and to lower the vanity of a pupil.
" Many teachers find the most effective form of censure to be a sharp, reproving glance of the eye ; this is a valuable mode of correction, because it does not interrupt the progress of the work of the class as a whole ; it is effective as an individual reproof, and is a sufficient reminder in cases where momentary inattention or neglect is manifest in an otherwise industrious scholar."-Cowham.
3. Loss of Privilege. -Privations are the natural penalties of abused privileges. This mode of punishing, if wisely employed, works marvellous results in silently, slowly, but surely teaching the pupil to govern himself. A pupil who is irregular in attendance, inattentive to his work, or given to disturb the class, may be dismissed from the recitation, may forfeit his seat, or may be placed in a lower division. A boy may be deprived of recess for being rough on the play-ground to the other pupils, or for coming late to his place when intermission is over. Every pupil should realize that his privileges are conditional on the maintenance of good conduct. In a well-disciplined school the removal of a pupil to a lower class should be a penalty sufficiently severe for any serious delinquency. An experienced and judicious teacher can make this mode of punishment invariably effective. A pupil degraded in this way should be reinstated as soon as signs of repentance justify, A young teacher, however, should be cautious in adopting this mode of controlling pupils. In the hands of a person of good-governing power, it may be utilized to secure application to study, to preserve order, and to command obedience to authority.
4. Suspension.-This is the climax to loss of privileges. Extreme caution is needed in its use. A resort to this penalty is either an acknowledgment of the teacher's inability to govern, or an announcement of the parent's defective training of the child. There is a danger that the public, and especially the parent, may ascribe the blame to the teacher. Frequent suspensions are an evidence of weak-governing power. In very few cases will parents, if spoken to, refuse to co-operate with the teacher in controlling their children. If a pupil deserves suspension, a talk with the parent will often enable the teacher to dispose of the matter in some better way. It is generally wiser and more expedient to place a pupil deserving suspension in a lower class. This course may be equally effective, and it is fully within the rights of the principal, who is responsible for the organization and discipline of the school. The offender gets a chance to improve by cultivating the habit of self-control. Public discussion is *perhaps avoided, as the matter is not necessarily noticed by trustees, and the pupil is not withdrawn from the teacher's good influence and authority. A good administrator takes care that matters pertaining to organization and discipline are not forced upon the attention of the Board. Trustees may be warm friends of education, but ability to judge how teachers should govern pupils is not one of their essential qualifications.
Young pupils should not be suspended. They need to be controlled in school. If older pupils-High School pupils-will not submit to the requirements of the school they should be deprived of its privileges. Suspension, if the method already mentioned will not answer, should be used. The authority of the teacher must be maintained. Rebellion cannot be tolerated. With an efficient executive officer at the head of a High School, and a good staff of assistants, there seldom should be any need of severe punishment. Suspension should not be employed without careful deliberation. The case should be clear. It would be a mistake to suspend a pupil if the public opinion of the school is not with the teacher. The provisions of the law (See Appendix), if suspension is decided on, should be observed. Expulsion rests with the Board. Unless a serious wrong has been committed, the parent will do his child an injustice if he appeals to the trustees. The trustees should hesitate to take any action that would lessen the influence of the teacher over his pupils.
Injudicious Punishments.-There are several kinds of punishments which appeal to wrong motives, and fail to excite a desire to do right or to secure obedience in a way that develops character. Any penalty that does not recognize the true basis or well-understood characteristics of punishments, is bad in its results. Some of the common kinds of injudicious punishments will be considered :
1. Cruel Punishments. These are inhuman, and have almost disappeared from the school-room. Such barbarous methods as holding up weights, standing on one foot, kneeling in uncomfortable positions, having the hair or ears pulled, or the arms pinched, are tortures of more than a generation ago. The professional training now demanded of teachers in this country saves children from the indignities of such evil practices.
2. Opprobrious Epithets. To call a pupil a liar, a thief, a blockhead, a dunce, a coward, or a knave, is next to a crime. Unjust and unkind words often sting deeply and rankle in the child's mind long after the event is forgotten by the teacher. No teacher who uses epithets of this kind should be allowed to hold a position.
3. Ridicule and Sarcasm. This mode of punishment creates fear and timidity, causes mortification and pain, and may leave wounds that are a hindrance to that good relationship which should exist between teacher and pupil. The man who desires to influence pupils for good is not anxious to make a " hard case " wince. He prefers to manage his school in such a way as to have memories of pupils he encouraged by firm and kind language. It is no comfort to a man of fine sentiment to feel that pupils were badgered and brought to time by his withering sarcasm and stern invective. It is possible a teacher of high qualifications may use a little good-natured ridicule without danger, but the practice of " sneering" does much harm.
4. Nagging. The habit of constant fault-finding grows on some teachers. A sour, whining, threatening, spiteful, dyspeptic person is not fit to manage children. To gnaw pupils by the everlasting rasping of a scolding tongue, until they grow callous to reproof, is foolish and cowardly. The unhappy child who is treated in this way is inclined to think the teacher is " picking" at him, and is often ready to talk back in self-defence.
5. Shame. To hold a pupil up to public scorn is irrational in principle, and should be obsolete in practice. Such devices as " fools' caps " and " dunces' seats " have happily become extinct. A teacher who appeals to a pupil's sense of honor as an incentive will seldom find an appeal to shame as a punishment necessary. Doubtless there are moral offences where shame may be used if wisdom is employed in its use. In such cases it will be found that the sense of honor exists. It has little value upon hardened offenders.
6. Keeping in. Detention after school hours is an injudicious mode of punishment that is not yet abandoned in some places. It may be necessary to have pupils remain for purposes of enquiry regarding discipline, or to detain them in order to assign lessons or to give assistance Matters of this kind should not require much time. The teacher has a legal right to detain pupils a reasonable time after four o'clock for any object he may deem fit; but he mistakes the intentions of the law if he supposes that he has a claim upon the time of children for an hour or more after the school-day. To detain pupils in order to have them make up for lost time, to cause them to attend to unprepared lessons, or to pay a penalty for idleness or insubordination, seldom does good. Many experienced teachers, who once tried this kind of punishment, have no faith in its officacy as an instrument of government. It loses its value when it becomes a practice. It punishes the teacher as well as the pupils, and never increases their esteem for him or their love for the school.
7. Tasks. No pupil should ever be asked to study a lesson for misconduct. The punishment is unnatural. There is usually no connection between it and the offence. To require a delinquent pupil to write out a number of words, to commit to memory a piece of poetry, to solve some questions in arithmetic, to construct a map, or to learn verses of Scripture, as a punishment, is to associate unpleasant memories with learning, and to regard as a disagreeable task that which should be a pleasant duty.
" What is this but to reveal that you think learning a lesson is a kind of penal servitude ? And this is a thing we should never tacitly admit. First, because it ought not to he true ; and secondly, because it will soon become true if you show that you believe it to be so. Of course, this remark does not apply to the making up for some neglect by finishing a lesson in play hours. It is a legitimate thing, if a duty of any kind is not performed at the proper time, to insist on its finished performance before the scholar begins to enjoy his leisure."-Fitch.
8. Demerit Marks. The moral standing of a child can-not be expressed by percentages. Pupils of rough disposition care little for demerit marks, but with those of gentle nature delicacy of feeling and self-respect may be sacrificed by their use for a temporary advantage. A report to parents may, in some cases, if put in general terms, do good. To give prominence before the class to the bad record of the pupil generally does harm. The person who is continually registering the mistakes made by pupils during the recitations may become expert in the art of recording, but not skilful in the art of teaching.
To save time the " self-reporting " system is sometimes adopted. Pupils are asked to tell how many times they whispered, how many mistakes they made in a lesson, and how many times they were reprimanded. The practice exposes children to strong temptation to be deceitful, untruthful and dishonest. The dishonest pupil has the advantage. While merit marks may be used in some cases as an incentive, demerit marks as a punishment will generally prove injudicious. The old system of having a " peg" to indicate daily the standing of each pupil in the class is at variance with modern ideas of discipline.
Corporal Punishment.-This mode of punishment merits special consideration. In extreme cases it is justifiable, but no kind of punishment is more frequently used injudiciously or has been more productive of trouble in discipline.
1. There are certain forms of vice which can be reached in no other way. In the case of disease it is often necessary to inflict temporary pain by means of medicine or a surgical instrument. The state of a child is a diseased one when bodily punishment is needed. Corporal punishment has no virtue, only as a means of producing in the mind of the offender that train of thought which works the required reform. Page, Horace Mann, as well as most modern educators, hold that corporal punishment in school cannot be entirely dispensed with until we have ideal disciplinarians and an ideal state of society.
"This kind of punishment, provided always that it is not too often administered, or with undue severity, is the proper way of dealing with wilful defiance, with obstinate carelessness, or with a really perverted will, so long or so often as the higher perception is closed against appeal."-Rosenkranz.
2. The objections to the use of corporal punishment are numerous. It degrades the sufferer and diminishes the self-respect which is so powerful an agent in all moral reformation. If used much it is certain to be abused. It creates a feeling of estrangement, stirs up malign thoughts, depresses timid natures, and hardens pupils that are wilfully disobedient. It leads to the neglect of proper school incentives, and has a degrading influence on the teacher. That it is objectionable is shown by the fact that good teachers seldom resort to it. A teacher who uses it for years is lowered in his own estimation. He feels mean, and his finer feelings are blunted.
3. Only for serious offences should corporal punishment be used. Wilful disobedience or rebellion may necessitate this means of correction. The obstinacy of some children may be constitutional, and may be partly physical and partly mental, and such obstinancy may be made worse by strong measures. The evils of such a disposition may often be mitigated by a continued course of mild' treatment. In the case of most children obstinacy is the result of bad treatment. A child should never be struck for inadvertences, for faults of forgetfulness, for irritability and carelessness, or for petty irregularities. Whispering, inattention, errors in answering, neglect of home lessons, or indifference to study very seldom become so grave as to warrant the use of the rod. Corporal punishment is a coarse remedy, and has no place in school, except for the coarse sins of a pupil's animal nature. Conduct that is grossly immoral or debasing, such as the use of profane or obscene language, should be met by prompt punishment; but if the pupils are old enough to attend a High School, suspension may be the most effective remedy.
4. It is unfortunate when trustees lay down rules to restrict the teachers in the use of corporal punishment. Any limitation necessary should come from the principal. Weak health, in any of its forms, should be sacred from the touch of the rod. Rashness and indiscretion in its use may injure children of vigorous health. Indiscriminate beating may lead to bodily and mental injury, and expose the teacher himself, beyond hope of satisfactory defence, to public reprobation, if not to legal penalty. Too often a teacher, who is determined " to conquer " a disobedient pupil, is insensibly drawn into a contest, in which he sacrifices every consideration of dignity, and fails to subdue, except by brute force.
5. A pupil should rarely be punished on the spur of the moment, or when the teacher is angry. The punishment should seldom be administered in the presence of 'the other children. Except in extreme cases, assistants would show wisdom by not punishing a pupil until the principal is consulted. Whenever corporal punishment is used in school, a record should be kept of the circumstances. The nature of the crime, the name of the offender, and the date of the punishment should be stated, so that if the teacher's judgment is called in question, a reference to the facts will be available. If these precautions are taken, there will be fewer appeals to this means of upholding authority. A small rod or a light strap is all that is needed. A pupil who deserves the application of a heavier instrument should be suspended, and not flogged. In no instance should the head be struck. It is a degradation to a teacher to expect him to whip a large pupil. In the case of a small one, a few slaps on the hands should suffice. Deliberation should precede punishment. In no case should the teacher allow his temper to determine the time and amount of the punishment.
6. The teacher stands in loco parentis, and therefore has a legal right to resort to such methods of discipline as would be used by a kind, firm and judicious parent. Teachers are sometimes brought rather hastily before a magistrate for punishing a child too severely, and too often magistrates have shown little consideration for the teachers' difficulties. In view of such possibilities, every teacher who finds it necessary to have recourse to this kind of punishment should use every precaution to prevent himself from being found guilty of severity, or even indiscretion. Canadian law is substantially the same on the question of corporal punishment as English law, and the latter is thus defined by Chief Justice Cockburn :
"By the law of England a parent or a schoolmaster, who, for his purpose, represents the parent, and has parental authority delegated to him, may, for the purpose of correcting what is evil in the child, inflict moderate and reasonable punishment ; always, however, with this condition, that it is moderate and reasonable. If it be administered for the gratification of passion or of rage, or if it be immoderate and excessive in its nature and degree, or if it be protracted beyond the child's power of endurance, or inflicted with an instrument unfitted for the purpose and calculated to produce danger to life and limb, in all such eases the punishment is excessive, the violence is unlawful."
1. Corporal punishment is not essential to good government, but the power to appeal to its use should not be taken away from the teacher. If wisely trained from infancy, a child will scarcely be able to call to mind any time when he was whipped. The child who is properly controlled by parental firmness, parental affection, and parental wisdom will not, when old enough to go to school, disobey father, mother, or teacher. To get along without using corporal punishment should be the aim of every teacher who has a high ideal of his calling. Many, who at first used this mode of controlling children, have trained themselves to dispense with it entirely. Some of the best teachers of graded Public Schools find it unnecessary for the more advanced classes. An appeal to it in the discipline of many High Schools is almost unknown. In the best of these institutions the experience and high qualifications of the principals are sufficient to secure easy control, by means of the judicious punishments already mentioned if the best kind of incentives to right action should fail.