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School CP - August 1884

Corpun file 24116 at

Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, 22 August 1884, p.4

Corporal Punishment in Schools.

At yesterday's meeting of the Education Board, Mr GREEN moved the following motion, of which he had previously given notice: "That in future the kind of punishment inflicted on the boy Ross in the Dunback School be prohibited in the public schools within this district, and the secretary be instructed to forward a circular to each teacher in the Board's service, intimating that he will be summarily dismissed on its being proved that he has inflicted the punishment termed and known as 'riding the donkey'. This decision not only includes whipping boys on or across a form, but also prohibits the mounting of a boy on the back of another while a whipping is inflicted." He said he would not say very much on the subject, as from the opinions expressed at the last meeting of the Board he was sure members were unanimous that the practice of inflicting punishment as above stated should not be tolerated. From what he had heard since the question was first mooted in the public prints he was led to the conclusion that the practice was not confined to only one of the schools under the control of the Board.

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Mr ELDER seconded the motion. He believed with Mr Green that the mode of punishment referred to was resorted to in more than one school; in fact that it was quite a usual mode of punishment, and this young teacher had only put into practice in the school over which he had charge what he had learned in the one where had served his apprenticeship.

Mr RAMSAY: Where was that?

Mr ELDER: In Mr Barrett's school, if you want to know -- a Dunedin school -- (laughter) -- and one that should have set a better example to the other schools of the province. Perhaps, now that it is out, it is just as well that the public should know. I hope it will be put a stop to at once. Punishment of this character is not of a kind that should be tolerated.

Dr MACGREGOR advocated a general regulation regarding the prohibition of severe and degrading punishment, the Board sending circulars to the teachers warning them against it. This motion, dealing only with one school and one particular kind of punishment, would hardly meet the case. Mr Green said it would be very difficult to define what they meant by degrading punishment. What one person might consider degrading another might not. He thought the boy who was made to hold another boy up for punishment was treated in as degrading a manner as the one who actually received the punishment.

The CHAIRMAN did not think the motion would do any good, and they would only be tying their own hands by making any regulation. He thought the action they had already taken in the case that had come under their notice was quite sufficient. Every teacher in the province knew that the Board was adverse to that method of punishment. He would not like to see the circulars sent out to the teachers, as that would in a measure be degrading.

Mr GREEN differed from the Chairman very widely. Had this been an isolated case he might have taken his view of it; but since the matter had gone so far he might state that the mode of punishment under discussion was resorted to in another of the schools in Dunedin besides the one already mentioned. He had not heard of this till very recently, and if the punishment had been used in one of their country schools and in two of the Dunedin schools, it just struck him that it might be in more general use than was anticipated. It might be that after what had transpired teachers would not continue this kind of punishment, but it seemed to him that unless the Board passed some resolution they would be giving a sort of tacit sanction to it.

The CHAIRMAN: Not at all.

Dr MACGREGOR: Is it known to be in use in other schools as a public fact?

Mr GREEN: I make it public now.

The CHAIRMAN: I don't think the Board has any knowledge of it.

Dr MACGREGOR: Just so; then they cannot receive the statements made.

Mr ELDER: Does not a statement made by a member of the Board give them a knowledge of it?

The CHAIRMAN: No; I think not. If you had seen it, that would be evidence.

Mr CLARK advocated the withdrawal of the resolution.

Mr Green declined to withdraw it.

The motion was then put and negatived, the voting being as follows: -- Aye: Messrs Green, Elder, and Fraer. Noes: Professor Shand, Dr Macgregor, Messrs Clark and Ramsay.

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