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School CP - June 1911

Corpun file 19685


The New York Times, 4 June 1911

The Rod Helpful.

By Nathan Jonas
Ex-member of the Board of Education of New York City.

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When I was a member of the Board of Education I brought up the question of corporal punishment, and a committee was appointed to consider it. A set of questions was sent to all school Superintendents throughout the country and to all Principals in our system. The answers pro and con were very close.

I favor corporal punishment because the only way a boy will be amenable to reason is by inflicting pain. Where there is any lack of discipline in schools it is largely because they do not use the rod. That is my opinion. Other people say kindness is the thing to use.

My point of view is that the Principals and teachers who come in contact with the boys believe in corporal punishment. I accept their views, because, as teachers, they say that is the only proper corrective.

When they built the new parental school at Flushing, N.Y., the question of corporal punishment arose. At the time I went there, and before it was open to general view, I found in each cottage a cage with bars, where they were to imprison boys who were bad or not amenable to reason. I brought up the question in the board, and asked if such treatment was not worse than real corporal punishment. Those cages were built under the supervision of the Board of Education of New York.

That simply shows that they believe in some form of corporal punishment, no matter whether they punish by means of the hand or a dark room.

In Germany they put boys in a dark room, I believe. That is worse than giving a boy a whack and getting over with it.

The fact remains that scholars throw things at their teachers. If a boy throws an inkwell or a ruler at a teacher, or pulls a knife on a classmate there is nothing that will correct him but corporal punishment.

That situation exists in the public schools of New York, and teachers are forced to submit to these things. In just such cases as that corporal punishment is fully justified.

In one downtown district they have a particular school where misbehaving boys are put together. I called there once, when the question of corporal punishment came up for discussion in the Board of Education. I saw the Principal, who had a fine reputation for dealing with unruly boys. She said to me: "After we have used every other form of correction possible with a boy who is beyond all reason, then we have to punish him by physical means."

I replied: "I should think that it would be better to punish the boys and leave them with good children, than to take them where they are all bad, and then punish them, giving them bad company also."

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