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School CP - May 1903

Corpun file 19676


The New York Times, 24 May 1903

Corporal Punishment In Schools.

Press cuttingTo the Editor of The New York Times:

The return to corporal punishment in the public schools is again urged by a Principals' organization. We know of nothing which could call for this except that these gentlemen agree almost unanimously that it is quite necessary. To say that it is not an essential to discipline is to accuse its advocates of incompetency and lack of control. That is indeed a seriously broad indictment.

The substitution of gentler methods was intended to remove the natural antipathy or hatred existing anciently between pupil and teacher. The innovation, for in the light of the history of pedagogy it is an innovation, has only served to remove the fear and foster a cowardly bravado in those who would otherwise shrink from a physical antidote to misbehavior.

Its removal was not for the protection of pupils from severe, or even accidental, injury; it was simply the trial of a new-fangled notion, very intellectual in theory but entirely worthless in practice.

Here of late most of our newly graduated female teachers are mere girls, decent and gentle in manner. In a primary class they are sure to find one or two unwashed rascals, foul-mouthed beyond mention for their years and defiantly cognizant that the woman who confronts them can inflict no other punishment than a weak threat of expulsion. Unable to bear continually with these vagabonds, she sends them out to the Principal, an act which brings with it a reflection of incompetency. To strike a little fiend brings the mother to school, who indignantly inquires who struck her little angel, and at times a tongue-lashing accompanies the tale of this terrible assault. Precocious incorrigibles have been known to scratch or slightly injure themselves in order to bolster up the lie at home, and thus get "hunk" on the teacher.

It only takes one disturber to upset a class, nullify control, and thus waste a lot of valuable time in which the nigh-helpless teacher strives for obedience and order. Give that young scoundrel a dose of the rod. and you can keep him at rest or drive him from school for just cause.

Perhaps most of us have had little love for our teachers, yet with added years the old memories inspire us with respect for those who have striven to implant the seeds of knowledge, stick or no stick.

As for that malicious young devil who will steal a dime when the instructor's back is turned, who will let fly a mouthful of street profanity every now and then, and who will even attempt to strike a teacher, let him have it frequently dealt with a strong arm, give him then and there that which he doesn't get elsewhere, and let him at all times have a wholesome regard for the birch to compensate his contempt for any other authority.

Irving E. Doob.
New York, May 21, 1903.

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