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School CP - October 1887

Corpun file 23452

Wanganui Chronicle, 29 October 1887, p.2

School Committee.

The ordinary monthly meeting of the Wanganui School Committee was held yesterday afternoon at Mr Dudley Eyre's office.


Corporal Punishment.

Mr Allen moved the following three resolutions on the subject of corporal punishment: --

1 -- That the Wanganui School Committee much regrets that the Education Board has resolved, by a small majority, to sanction the infliction of corporal punishment by others than head teachers, as it considers that an interval should elapse between the commission of an offence and the, perhaps, hasty and passionate infliction of corporal punishment; and that the committee hopes that the board may be able to reconsider its decision.

2 -- That the Wanganui School Committee respectfully requests the Education Board to define the meaning of the term "corporal punishment," as applied in its instructions to teachers; and also to determine in what form, and to what extent corporal punishment is to be administered by male and female teachers to girls and boys respectively.

3 -- That a deputation consisting of the chairman, the secretary, and the mover wait upon the Education Board at its next meeting to lay the foregoing resolutions before it.

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Mr Allen, in introducing the subject, said that the board passed its resolution by one vote, therefore it might reasonably be asked to reconsider it. The editor of Truth had said, "the London School Board [the largest and most important in the world] refused, by a vote of 30 to 15, to hand over the unfortunate children to the indiscriminate violence of the assistant teachers. ... I trust the ratepayers will ... refuse to reelect a single one of those who voted in the minority." If corporal punishment meant literally punishment by blows on the body, that is to say, not on the head, or hands, was it allowable or proper for men to corporally punish girls, or for women to corporally punish boys? Supposing, as in many country schools, there were boys as big as the mistress, how was she to punish them corporally if they resisted. If corporal punishment meant punishment by blows elsewhere than the body (e.g., on the head or hands) was it allowable or proper for teachers to box children's ears, at the risk of rendering them deaf, or to beat them on the hands at the risk of breaking the tender bones of the fingers? What instruments of torture were allowable? The cane, supplejack, tawse, ruler -- round or flat -- birch? How many blows were to be administered if a boy and girl committed a similar offence in a school where there was only one teacher, was he to beat the boy and not the girl? If the boy deserved corporal punishment in the first sense, i.e. blows on the bare body, was the girl who had committed a similar offence to escape without blows on the bare body? Were teachers to deal out corporal punishment by some definite rule, always in the same proportion; or were they to be left to their own discretion, or indiscretion? What about hard-handed and soft-handed children? Were delicate children who committed offences to be exempted from corporal punishment, or not? Why not?

Mr Allen then described some of his own experiences as a pupil and as a teacher, and said that he was certain that blows oftener caused hardening than softening; and that while blows might have to be appealed to for lying, bullying, indecency, &c., but only as a last resort -- "it was better to rule by love than fear."

Mr Richards was glad the subject was introduced, as he had been thinking very seriously about it, having heard of a recent case of excessive punishment by an assistant teacher in the town school.

Mr W. Austin, in seconding the first resolution, said that his son bad been caned on the hand by a former Wanganui master, and had thus permanently lost the use of one finger.

Major Neill said that he should vote for the second and third resolutions, as he thought corporal punishment should be defined and limited, but he considered that the first would be likely to bring the committee into collision with the board. -- Mr Eyre took the same view as Major Neill.

The Chairman (Mr Stevenson) thought that, as the committee had made it known that they would investigate any complaints made in writing, the first resolution was unnecessary, but he would support the second.

On a division, Messrs Allen, Austin, and Richards voted for, and Messrs Neill, Eyre, and Stevenson against, the first resolution. The Chairman gave his casting vote against it, and it was thus lost. The second and third resolutions were carried unanimously.

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