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School CP - February 1913

Corpun file 19669


The New York Times, 1 February 1913

M'Murry Outlines Rules for the Rod

Professor Who Advocates Corporal Punishment in the Schools Tells How He Would Apply It.

No Curb on Bad Boys Now

Unless Teachers Employ Methods of Discipline More Cruel Than the Cane -- Principals Lack Authority.

Press cutting

To remove all doubt as to what sort of punishment Prof. Frank M. McMurry of Teachers College favored in his recommendation that the by-laws of the Board of Education prohibiting corporal punishment in the public schools should be abolished, the Committee on School Inquiry called attention yesterday to that part of Prof. McMurry's report which dealt with the restrictions on the use of the rod in the city schools. These were the conditions under which Prof. McMurry favored corporal punishment:

That each child first receive a medical examination.

That, if possible, the written consent of the father or guardian be obtained.

That such punishment be applied only in the presence of some adult witness.

That accurate records be kept of all cases of such punishment, together with the conditions that led to them and the mode of its administration.

That the by-law of the Board of Education expressly forbidding corporal punishment be rescinded. The State law touching assault and battery sufficiently covers cases of unwarranted severity toward pupils.

That the number of parental schools for the most depraved children be increased in which the inmates shall be under constant confinement; also that the number of disciplinary schools be increased, in which the inmates shall be confined throughout the day.

That the mode of commitment to these schools be greatly simplified; that a special curriculum be allowed in each of these schools, peculiarly fitted to the needs of the pupils, and that corporal punishment be allowed in them.

That in other schools the Principal and the few persons to whom he may delegate the right shall have authority to use physical force with pupils; or, when it is deemed advisable by the Principal, one or more classes composed of troublesome children shall be formed, after the type of the present ungraded classes, and that in these special classes the Principal and the teachers of such classes to whom he delegates the right shall have authority to administer corporal punishment.

Under the present system, Prof. McMurry says, there are many disobedient and disorderly children who have no respect for authority, little regard for the rights of others, and little fear beyond that of bodily hurt. Neither the principal nor the classroom teacher may administer corporal punishment to them.

The results of this system, Prof. McMurry found, were bad. Not only were punishments more cruel than corporal punishment applied to many pupils, but in many classrooms teachers were at their wits' end every day to discover how to instruct while certain pupils caused constant disorder. Finally, he said, the troublesome pupils, conscious of the powerlessness of their teachers, become confirmed in lawless habits in the very place that was intended to teach them to observe the rights of others; and those lawless habits, carried into afterlife, lead directly to the lawless gangs and rowdy conduct so common to-day.

The committee will make public this morning a third report by Prof. McMurry, dealing with "The Work of Principals." In it serious defects in the schools are ascribed by him to the manner in which the abilities, initiative, and powers of the Principals are limited and circumscribed.

Prof. McMurry says the Principals lack authority as to the studies to be pursued in each grade, as to the content of the various subjects in the curriculum for his school, and as to the time allotted to the several branches of study.

Corpun file 19677


The New York Times, 10 February 1913

Corporal Punishment.

Experienced Teacher Thinks It Necessary to Proper Discipline.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

Press cutting

I wish the Commissioner quoted as condemning corporal punishment were given a class of boys in one of our schools, and had to keep it for an hour or so; he would find out very soon that others besides "weak and inefficient teachers" feel the need of the rod. Just ask any teacher of experience, and the reply will be invariable: We have boys with us who will respond to physical force, and that only. It may be because of inherited characteristics, or poor home training, or some other factor beyond the boy's control, but the fact remains that ordinary means of suasion are ineffective with him. We have all kinds of children, and some of them cannot be handled the same way as others.

It is true that public schools are for the children and not for the teachers. And precisely for this reason it is absolutely necessary to have more effective means of discipline in the schools than we have to-day. It is the normal and orderly children who suffer mainly from the presence in the classroom of an unruly boy. The latter means that a large part of the teacher's energy, time, and attention is taken from the class and its instruction, and is devoted to the exceptional individual who does not conform to class regulations and class life. But for such delinquents, the rest of the class would be getting a great deal more out of school than they are at present.

Secondly, the miscreant himself needs firm measures to be saved from further degeneration. Many a boy needs just one good thrashing to make him change into a decent member of society -- not even a thrashing is always necessary, perhaps a threat would be sufficient. Compelled to act properly through fear of physical punishment, the culprit frequently develops proper habits, even though the original motive does not exist any more.

New York, Feb. 5, 1913.

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