1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Bring back corporal punishment campaign

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Captain Carwash, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. Mmm... certain posters on here want a return to a discipline system that was made illegal over 25 years ago, and demand the right to beat children.
    And I am the zealot.
    What a strange world we live in.
  2. Aldo1983

    Aldo1983 New commenter

    It was only made illegal in 2000. Independent schools continued to use it long after the ban came into effect in the public sector. I'm surprised you don't know that as someone involved with training new teachers.
    By the way, plenty of people were beaten as children by both teachers and parents. There is nothing to suggest that, when not done excessively, it can lead to long term psychological consequences. Indeed, it promotes conformity and teaches people that they aren't the centre of the universe. As a result, people mature quickly and develop a thick skin. It's a shame we lost such an effective and logical system.
  3. As I have said before, when I was in S1, I was belted by someone who is now a current colleague of mine. I don't hold any grudge about it and actually find it quite amusing that we are now colleagues.
    It never did me any harm...
  4. Aldo1983

    Aldo1983 New commenter

    It was out by the time I went to school. However I do work alongside older members of staff who did use it. It's a strange thought that these charming old ladies and gents used to administer legal corporal punishment. It must be awful to be in their shoes as they have witnessed the decline of British education from best in the world to global laughing stock.
  5. kibosh

    kibosh Star commenter

    LOL [​IMG] I have just read this thread in its glorious entirity, I have been enthralled and riveted - Who needs the Jeremy Kyle Show??? A big thanks to all posters, for their motivation, commitment, energy and passion, I'm exhaused from reading it all, let alone being one of the contributors. Genuinely, I have not been so entertained in ages
  6. The "belt" in Scotland was a cruel abuse that was
    allowed to continue for far too long.
    A misguided saddler in Fife had been allowed, and even encouraged, to
    produce straps of such fearsome thickness and density that their effective use
    was nothing less than devastating. And
    these were used in the vast majority of Scottish schools including illegally,
    against the local authority’s wishes, in Glasgow. The pain was unbelievable and agonising, and could be continued
    for up to six strokes, when the first one or two had already rendered the
    child's hands swollen and contused, and the recipient in shock and extreme
    pain. It is hard to credit now, thirty
    years on, but just to see and feel the weight of one of these implements is
    shocking. And in some schools they were
    in daily and almost random use as a punishment of first resort. In the hands of sadists (and sadly there
    were too many of those) it was effectively torture. And new teachers were drawn into the foolish practice, even at a
    time when after the supposed 'liberation' of the sixties it should have been
    clear to any rational person that it was an unacceptable anachronism. Here is the story of one silly wee lassie
    who joined in with some apparent enthusiasm and still feels no shame:


    Back then, the worst thing was to let your friends see that
    you 'couldnae take it', but now we're in our 40s and 50s and older, it's time
    to stop pretending 'it didnae dae me ony hairm' and show this up for what it
    was - plain and simple abuse. And it's
    not too late to name and shame some of the worst perpetrators.
  7. that would be
    "n'est-CE pas"
  8. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter

    I dont think this thread can be serious since there is no more possibility of the belt being reintroduced than capital punishment being restored. It has gone for good and few will mourn its passing.
    But as one who has been at both ends of the 'lash' I find some of the comments here little more than emotional incontinence. I never encountered an actual sadist as far as I am aware either as pupil or teacher, and that includes the occasion I managed to receive the maximum six strokes. What I did encounter were teachers with an old testament outlook who demanded total obedience, and at the other end of the scale weaker teachers flailing out in a forlorn attempt to keep order.
    Neither caused any particularly traumatic for the classes of which I was a member: the former could belt you into temporary submission but the heroic martyred status that ensued for the recipient was an early lesson in the limited ability of any authoritarian regime to win over the masses. The pain was temporary but bearable; the kudos lasted longer.
    As for those weaker teachers at the end of their tether beltings were often dished out in a carnival atmosphere as desk lids were banged and comments were shouted out. It may have been totally self-defeating for the teacher but was considered good sport for the class.
    So the belt can rest in peace. The problem is that the belt, for all its random nature and inconsistency, did give teachers autonomy in the classroom. Since then a managerial approach to discipline has been developed which involves the parents 'as partners.' I hardly need remind practising classroom teachers of the problems that recalcitrant parents or weak SMT throw up daily for those facing their pupils. A whole plethora of behaviour management experts and anger management gurus have emerged to preach at us, employing Dickensian language the better to make their case for the new orhtodoxy.
    I suspect they would, in times past, have been equally enthusiastic for the old orthodoxy of belting. So dont bring back the belt please, for it wont get rid of them. They'll just convert.
  9. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter

    If you want a good example of the expertise available to classroom teachers then look no further than the next thread down, a self-justifying, condescending exercise in psychobabble written by our in-house, self-styled expert raymagnol.

    And as one who no longer teaches in Scotland I can I'm afraid offer no more than the words of US labour activist Joe Hill before his execution: Good luck to all of you.

    btw why does the in your face raymagnol become so coy when it comes to supplying information on her profile? No photo, no details of where she taught. Is there a story to be unearthed here?
  10. Strange that there's a mountain of empirical evidence that suggests the "psychobabble" works...
  11. I love a game of poker!!
    I see your 'empirical evidence' and raise you 'Professional Wisdom'.
    And I'll bet my mountain is bigger than yours [​IMG]
  12. Come, come, railroad, professional wisdom must arise from empirical evidence - otherwise it's just a bluffer's hand of anecdote, hearsay and murky prejudice. [​IMG]
  13. Oh not really - empirical evidence is simply a bit part of the whole that is professional wisdom.
    What you really appear to be saying is that the judgement of the majority of professionals, gained through experience and observation at the coal face of education, is nought compared to the judgement of a minority gained through the occasional foray into a controlled educational environment.
    Which we all know is not so.
  14. Cobalt, I suspect from what you write that you were not exposed to the extreme and abusive aspects of 'belting' and the effects of a heavy 'lochgelly' being used for maximum effect by a powerful athletic man on a slightly built child. Be that as it may, if, as I think I understood from your comments, you were a user of one of these implements in their sad extended swansong in the 1970s/early 1980s, then your views on the subject hold no moral value whatsoever. By that time, it should have been clear to anyone with any discernment that the practice was an abusive anachronism that could not be justified under any circumstances. And that is not to start to explore the deplorable psychosexual aspects that influenced many of the perpetrators, and sadly affected some of the recipients and the spectators. But your jaundiced views of more enlightened approaches illustrates the limited nature of your outlook; I imagine your departure from teaching in Scotland is not to be regretted. Perhaps you should have chosen a different career.
  15. Of course empirical evidence is a part of professional wisdom - the wisdom comes from interpreting that evidence. However it is not professionally wise to come to conclusions that fly in the face of the empirical evidence. What cobalt calls "psychobabble" consist empirically proven strategies - it is therefore doesn't make any sense to say that that those strategies are somehow contrary to professional wisdom.

    Secondly, you seem to think that the ONLY empirical evidence comes from "occasional forays into controlled educational environments", as if "real teachers" aren't interested in objectively examining their practices: not so. The empirical evidence comes from the experience and observation of wise professionals who put such strategies into place and report their success. Perhaps if you seriously listened to successful classroom practitioners you'd find all the professional wisdom you need.
  16. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter

    I agree that the belt is gone for good and have no wish to see any form of corporal punishment return. But as one schooled in Fife I can assure you that I was no stranger to the Lochgelly Special.
    I have never to my knowledge witnessed either sadism or psychosexualbehaviour during beltings but this is no doubt due to my compartmentalised way of thinking. But you could probably say that any human activity from hanging a man, to buying a packet of fishfingers , to spreading one's seed on an educational blog like this was evidence of psychosexual behaviour, so loose is the terminology.

    Thanks for ther career advice but I think I'm too old to retrain as an educational psychologist. I have been a chalkie for 32 years and am actually enjoying the job as much as I have ever done. In that time I have seen enlightened attitudes hold sway as guidance teachers, behaviour management specilaists and ex primary teachers have seen fit to lecture secondary teachers on how to handle students. In that same period Ihave seen the UK police tool up to paramilitary levels and read newspaper reports of sadistic child on child violence which is harrowing in the extreme.

    30 years ago we were told by bodies like STOPP child violencewas a result of children imitating adult violence, particularly as displayed in the classroom. That has been eradicated. But are pupils safer now than they were then? I dont think so. So the enlightened approaches have failed to make thimngs better. I suspect things are much worse. Yes we need enlightened ideas, but these will not be the milksop child centred Piaget theories which seemed an attractive alternative at a time when behaviour was being enforced, after a fashion, by the belt.

  17. Well, Cobalt, maybe our views on some of this are not so far apart, but I think perhaps you may have been a bit unobservant, or just naive in these matters, or maybe subconsciously you just didn't like to dwell on the possibility. But if I accept that 'psychosexual' may fail your test of loose terminology, can we run with the pretty standard definition of 'sadism' as 'the derivation of pleasure as a result of inflicting pain'? Then I'd suggest to you, almost every male PE/Gym teacher you could ever have come across back then, with specific reference to their attitude to the punier and/or non-games-oriented boys, and probably one in every two 'enthusiastic belters' in other subject areas, whether male or female. I could easily draw on my own 1960s experiences, albeit on the opposite coast to you, and name names about whom I had not the slightest doubt.
    So by the 1970s I was convinced beyond doubt that it was an outdated brutality which had no place in modern education, and stuck by that view despite the temporary problems that threw up in the idiotic dying days of the belt in the late 70s/early 80s. But I am curious - your earlier comment implied that you chose to be a user in that period. Be honest now, no tendency to the 'pleasure' principle whatsoever? And still no sense of shame, looking back now, that you participated in beating children with leather straps in those pretty recent and enlightened times?
    Furthermore, your causality argument between the abolition of corporal punishment in schools and the woes of modern society is miles off beam, I'm guessing your subject is not History, or you might be more aware of the past occurence of disorder between police and public, or the perpretation of brutality and violence by children, not just in your presumed golden age of the 50s and 60s, but long before. No, I think what you bemoan is the end of deference and the willingness of the meek and weak to be smacked down, physically or metaphorically, by 'authority' if they dared to answer back. Well, the world has moved on, and a good thing too; the effects are across society, and not just in the relationships betweeen childrend and educators. I have to disagree with you entirely; these are changes for the better. Sure, if that means professionals working in education need to be smarter, better trained and more able, and can't fall back on retributive violence with a 'belt' in their hands, then hurrah to that.
  18. cobalt54

    cobalt54 New commenter


    Thanks for your thoughtful reply, though I think you are a little off the mark with my own experiences as a 'belter.' But you're right that it is dangerous to make connections between school discipline and crime rates since the figues are never reliable and open to so much interpretation. For example two of the highest murder rates per capita in the world are in South Africa and the US. Yet in South Africa parents have traditionally not spared the rod, whereas the US is a country where Oscar Wilde noted ironically that parents are always prepared to obey their children.

    I dont accept the gratuitous aspect to belting. There were indeed P.E. teachers who strutted their macho stuff in my day and even as a member of various school teams I was not immune to their rough justice. But I cant be convinced they actually enjoyed the idea of inflicting pain. I think they were happy to consolidate their position within the school, and the belt was a useful means to that end. But I dont think belting was the end, it was merely the means.
    I'm not a history teacher but neither am I a Daily Mail believer in a golden age which is always 30 years before the time of writing. However I will ask a straight question: is pupil behaviour better, the same or worse than in the past?

    I noted in an earlier blog the language used by STOPP and those who vehemently oppose corporal punishment. STOPP regularly used the word 'beating' in the late 70s, which created a lurid Dickensian image of Wackford Squeers laying into what you refer to as 'the meek and weak.' In fact the meek and weak were rarely belted if at all: it was the livelier spirits who had the leather applied to their palms. And anyone who has actually been given a beating in the commonly accepted use of the term would be able to conform that being belted was a picinic by comparison.
    You used the word 'brutal' but for me that is also hyperbole. Brutal is what is happening to children in Iraq and Afghsanistan, and funded by the UK taxpayer. [Did I see you on any anti-war rallies by the way?] The pupil who stepped out of line knew why he was being belted, whatever the moral arguments about corporal punishment. That is not a luxury afforded to those children bombed from the air and whose houses are ransacked by British soldiers.

    As for the question of guilt I feel none. Belting did not work for me in my first year of teaching and was not neceassary thereafter. Like most teachers I neeeded at least one year in the classroom to learn through experience- no training would have changed that. In the two years that followed I taught next to teachers who, like yourself, objected to the use of corporal punishment but whose classes were a menagerie. To me they abused more children than I ever did in my first year of teaching but no doubt they retreated each evening feeling morally superior to the rest of the staff. In one case a hapless teacher who was opposed to corporal punishment actually had the temerity to send a pupil next to door in the hope that I would do his dirty work for him.
    The problem with rewriting history is that too often it becomes a political weapon forged in caricature. There never was in my experience a lash-happy sadistic metalwork teacher foaming at the mouth any more than there was a kind compassionate French teacher gently coaxing out the nuances of subjunctive verbs. But if there is to be a show trial of belting teachers from yesteryear I will take my place in the dock and offer as vigorous a defence as I am able. I smoke 60 cigarettes a day (perhaps due to the trauma of being belted as a pupil) but can still play indoor football for an hour each week with the senior lads so maybe those lashings from the head of P.E. circa 1969 stood me in good stead.

  19. Cobalt,
    Again I feel there is a lot we might agree on, including Britain's glorious overseas role, but it seems to me that you indulge in special pleading to ease your conscience on your own involvement. Fair enough, we all do that sort of thing, I guess, but I really do wish people like yourself could just say, yes, I am ashamed, it was wrong then just as it would be wrong now, and if I could choose again it would be different. I don't want to see you in the dock, but I would like a little truth and reconciliation. Debating degrees of brutality doesn't wash with me ... belting was a stupid brutality by any sensible definition, always was, always would have been. At the risk of being accused of emotional incontinence again, let me quote from Jack McLean's autobiography. He is talking of around 1960, as I recall, and was a smart wee working class lad in one of Glasgow's "better" schools:


    “Mind you, there were certainly those masters who embraced
    the maxim of Cruel to be Kind with a vigorous enthusiasm. I’ll never forget the **** who gave me nine
    of the belt for a misdemeanour, which, if it was one, was more than
    insignificant. The man had asked me in
    front of another class, and another teacher he had been visiting, why I had
    done so well in so many subjects and abjectly failed at his. I had enquired who had told him of my
    results. He said a little bird had told
    him. I knew it must have been Old Man
    Campbell, the head of mathematics. “Was
    it a wee, fat bird?” I asked. Okay, a
    smart remark. Nine of the belt though? Six was regarded as the very maximum, and
    rare at that. Oddly it was another
    teacher, the one in whose class I had been, who intervened. It led, I discovered later, to a major row
    in the staffroom. The intervening
    master told me to go away and wash my hands or something. As I was leaving I
    heard Mr P call his colleague a *** …… Me, I was very small and the
    thrashing was too much for me although I hadn’t flinched during it. (You couldn’t let your classmates witness
    such a humiliation, let alone a teacher.) I went down to the lavoratories and
    went into shock, trembling for about ten minutes.”
    Now, I know the excuses, most instances of belting weren't usually like that, this is an extreme example, etc, etc. But I also know (without any doubt) that abuse not dissimilar to this did happen, and happen often enough. When the potential is there, the abuse will happen. And all belting was an abuse, whether as extreme as that example or not. Surprisingly enough, or perhaps not surprisingly at all, Jack Mclean eventually turned into a belter himself and an opponent of STOPP. And also someone with a lot of problems and perhaps an unhealthy approach to violence towards pupils. So Cobalt: " I smoke 60 cigarettes a day (perhaps due to the trauma of being belted as a pupil) .." Maybe many a true word spoken in jest?
    Now, your straight question. "Is pupil behaviour better, the same or worse than in the past" Ermm, none of the above, it's different, and reflects the society in which we live. And you need different techniques to be good at managing it. It's more of a team approach too. The myth of the individual 'dominie' ruling his own roost with his Lochgelly was already a daft notion by 1974, and is meaningless today. And no doubt the 50-something petty tyrant style teachers in 1974 looked back to to the 1940s and asked the same question. Their mistake was to cling on to the crazed approach of corporal punishment for too long, because they weren't good enough to embrace change and face up to the alternatives. But I still don't buy the argument of someone coming into the profession around that time and grabbing for a belt. In any case, I don't follow your logic; you say it "did not work" for you, but did apparently set you up in better stead that the "hapless" non-belters? I see.
  20. PS Of course it was "beating", by any 'sensible definition'. I can understand why you don't like the term, but it's accurate enough, and reflects the reality. So you made a practice of beating pupils with a thick leather strap, one that was so capable of inflicting astonishingly agonising pain and damaging hands and wrists that it had been banned in Glasgow? (Although many if not most belting teachers there broke their terms of employment, and perhaps also the criminal law, by using one anyway, rather than the officially sanctioned strap.) At least in your case it was just for one year, apparently.

Share This Page