Historically, the countries of Northern Europe, essentially Germanic in general cultural terms, had a strong tradition of corporal punishment. Denmark, despite its modern ultra-liberal image, was no exception. The ancient (presumably mediaeval) illustration above shows a schoolmaster holding a birch over his left shoulder.
Since 1814 the instrument to be used was a cane, which was not outlawed from schools until 1967. However, in the capital, Copenhagen, CP was abolished in 1952 in government schools.
The following notes by Keld Grinder-Hansen, Director of the Danish School Museum, were published in Frie Grundskoler No 11, 2004 (English translation below):
I gamle dage slog lærerne eleverne. Det er en viden som hver
eneste skolebarn har i dag, og deres forældre og bedsteforældre
bærer med glæde ved til bålet med historier om mere eller
mindre raffinerede straffemetoder. Lussingerne sad løse, og ofte
kunne eleverne selv vælge om de ville have en lussing nu eller
en eftersidning på et senere tidspunkt. De fleste valgte den
kontante afregning her og nu, for når de skulle forevise
eftersidningssedlen hjemme, ville de højst sandsynlig blot få
lussingen her og dermed dobbelt straf!
Det mest interessante ved disse historier er at lærerne faktisk
siden 1814-skoleloven ikke har haf ret til at stikke eleverne
lussinger. I 1814-loven blev straffemidlerne præciseret til at
være den mundtlige påtale, eftersidningen og i alvorlige
tilfælde slag med spanskrør. Lussingen blev benyttet og så
længe samfundet accepterede fysiske afstraffelser af børn,
fortsatte eleverne fra tid til anden med at få en "en
huskekage" af læreren. Brugen af spanskrøret skulle følge
nøje regler. Straffen blev udmålt i et bestemt antal slag der
skulle påføres elevens bagdel. Efter executionen skulle
straffen og begrundelsen herfor indføres i en særlig
straffeprotokol. Sjovt nok har kun ganske få straffeprotokoller
overlevet til i dag, ligesom der kun er bevaret få originale
spanskrør. Spanskrøret blev afskaffet i det københavnske
skolevæsen i 1952 medens det på landsplan forsvandt i 1967.
In the old days teachers used to hit their pupils. Every schoolchild nowadays knows that, and their parents and grandparents are happy to come out with stories about more or less sophisticated methods of punishment. A slap round the face would be dished out freely, and pupils could often choose for themselves whether they would rather have a slap straight away or be given detention later on. Most of them opted to settle the bill on the spot, because if they had to show the detention slip when they got home, they would more than likely just get a clip round the ears there so they would be punished twice!
The most interesting thing about these stories is that since the Schools Act of 1814 teachers have not actually been allowed to slap their pupils. The 1814 Act specified the methods of punishment as being a verbal reprimand, detention and, in serious cases, a caning. Slapping was practised, and as long as society acquiesced in the corporal punishment of children, pupils still got a 'box round the ears' from teachers from time to time. There were certain rules to be followed for a caning. The punishment was administered in a specific number of strokes and had to be applied to the pupil's bottom. After it had been carried out, the type of punishment and the reason for it had to be entered in a special punishment book. Curiously, very few punishment books have survived to the present day, just as there are only a few original canes left. The cane was abolished in Copenhagen schools in 1952, whereas it disappeared throughout the country in 1967.
RELATED VIDEO CLIP
Brief extracts from an educational TV programme on a visit to the School Museum, where the Director shows a school cane. It appears to be a rattan, very long but rather thin. He taps it against his hand, which is misleading because, according to the above text, the punishment had to be applied to the student's buttocks. His remarks (in Danish) are a version of the notes reproduced above.
HERE IS THE CLIP:
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External links for Denmark/School CP