My Autobiography – Of Corporal Punishments in Indian Schools

Before you start thinking that I was some kind of a victim of cruel corporal punishments, let me reassure you and spoil the fun by saying that I escaped corporal punishments/ getting beaten, almost throughout my schooling πŸ˜› It helped that I was mostly in the good-books of teachers, even though I was not so keen about doing homework on time.

But then, corporal punishments were normal in schools of my time, in spite of my school being situated inside a major city in India. I am not sure if beatings still exist today (in the scale that existed back then), because the TN govt. seems to have banned it in 2007.

When I was in second standard, I remember one of my teachers being quite strict. For some reason, she did not hit kids, but she created a lot of drama. For instance, we (a group of non-homework doers) were taken near the principal’s room and after having ensured that we were shivering in fear, we were brought back (without meeting the principal, of course). I wanted to start with a positive example. Alternatives always exist.

Before that, either we were not hit or I don’t remember any incidents. During my third standard, we had another strict teacher who had this habit of catching our hands, and hitting our knuckles with the wooden part of the duster. It was considered an achievement if anyone managed to finish that year without getting hit!

During our sixth standard, there was a strict Tamil teacher who was a terror. He was always sporting a smile. Initially, we thought he was lenient. But then, we got to know what a sadist he was. He used to call erring students in front of the class (with a smile in his face), and in the pretext of softly questioning them, he suddenly slaps them. When this happened for the first time, we were shocked. Imagine our fear – he even removed the specs of the student slowly (with a smile) before the slap.

Of course, terror never bothered me much or made me do homework regularly. Naturally, I was his victim more than once. I was hit once in my back (it did not pain) and in the other two instances, I was just sent out of the class. Shortly, the teacher got into trouble with the school management, for his ways.

What happened was, there was one girl in the class who was asthmatic. Without knowing that, he slapped her one day. During the break immediately afterwards, she had breathing problems and was taken to the doctor/home. The schools were neutral about corporal punishments, only as long as it did not create trouble for them.

Obviously, the teacher might have ‘got’ nicely (courtesy: above incident) from the principal and on the following day he came in our school bus. He was sitting next to me. I knew where he was going, but kept quiet in amusement. When he raised to get down, I said, “Sir, her house is in the second left on this road”. He looked at me with a sarcastic smile in his face and went away to apologize to her parents. I told this to everyone in the class and we were very much amused πŸ™‚

The last instance of corporal punishment (that I remember) was during my 7th standard. Two teachers had made this their favorite way to punish students. One teacher came in with a PVC pipe and used it to hit us! I don’t remember whether I was hit or not, but I do remember one guy being hit with that pipe for writing some movie story in the exam paper to test if the teachers actually read our answers πŸ˜€ One day, one of my friends informed him about an opening for teachers in the gulf (news paper cutting), and two weeks after that the teacher resigned πŸ˜›

The other teacher kept continuing his occasional beating until (after a couple of years), one of the students rebelled and refused to get hit. The student clearly told the teacher (in front of all students) that he will not accept any punishment of this kind and the teacher walked out and complained to the PT master, immediately. As a result of this incident, the teacher reduced (or even stopped) hitting kids.

Yes, the PT masters used to hit us occasionally in all schools. We had one psycho NCC master (who was from the army) who hit us with a cane. All these were very occasional. Nothing was troublesome enough to complain to our parents, or anything. Even if we had complained to parents, I am sure they would have sympathized with the teachers! πŸ˜› This is getting too long, I’ll stop here.

To teachers: Stop hitting students. There are other effective methods to discipline kids and get work done. The best way is to make homework/studies more interesting and inspire the students to do it.

What was your experience with corporal punishment in your school?

Destination Infinity

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28 Replies to “My Autobiography – Of Corporal Punishments in Indian Schools”

  1. That made for an interesting read!! The sadist Tamil teacher had quite an amusing style!
    Have never experienced corporal punishment in school. Being asked to stand outside the class or notes with red pen in the school diary were the punishments that I have received and they were very embarrassing!

    1. Yes, even things like standing out might have been embarrassing back then. If the goal was to embarrass or frighten, that would be sufficient. Why beat kids?

      Destination Infinity

  2. Corporal punishment is not the best way to educate children, it only raises their awareness in fear to do something as opposed to creatively wanting to do something. Although I never experienced corporal punishment, I do recall mental punishments by the teachers – these were those type of punishments which didn’t leave a physical mark but mental one.

    Nonetheless, this makes an interesting read, an interesting insight into how Schools ‘use’ to run in India.

    1. When we are young, we are bound to get affected mentally/embarrassed even if we are ridiculed in front of a group, etc. Teachers and elders in general should be aware of this and handle kids with sensitivity, I feel.

      Destination Infinity

  3. I was scared while reading about the smiling teacher slapping the students, removing their specs with a smile on his face…terrible!

    The teacher who was asked to go the students home to apologise was interesting.

    My relative is a teacher for 2nd std. students and she says that most of the time she gets mad when she had to keep on shouting at them to keep quiet. She would just say that she was not going to talk to any student hereafter and sat in her chair without speaking for a few moments. The qieter children made others to keep quiet, it seems. She enjoys her children, she says so often! The parents ask her to hit their children if they made mistakes…they would ask “how do you manage so many children? We are not able to manage even one or two at home!”

    In my school days(!) we were asked stand ouside the class in the verandah facing the wall…we used to giggle so much that the teacher had to come out of the class to shout “shut upP!”

    You must have enjoyed writing this and we enjoyed reading this, D.I.

    1. Both the teachers (you mentioned in your comment) refer to the same person, in my narrative.

      Teaching should be a tough job indeed, especially teaching smaller kids who are mostly restless and keep involving themselves in mischiefs. LOL @ making teachers come outside and mind. We have also done similar things πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  4. Excellent write up. I never experienced any corporal punishment. But I remember this one incident. When I was in 10th grade, a teacher hit a student. The student, in return, beat the heck out of the teacher in front of the whole class (much to the cheer of all students.). The student was suspended for a week.

    1. LOL. In our schools, such things were unimaginable. We were even wondering at the guts shown by that one boy who opposed the punishment!

      Destination Infinity

  5. I have not experienced any corporal punishment in school, partly because I was a sickly child and my mother had informed the most notorious corporal punisher in the school about that fact πŸ˜› There was a maths teacher who didn’t hit girls as a rule but made us do 10 problems more! The Tamil teacher sounds like the one my older son had in his 6th standard in Delhi. Apparently the students called her Smiling Death, as she would smile and after the student was sufficiently relaxed, hit him. Such sadists shouldn’t be allowed to become teachers. But in the absence of checks, they get in.

    1. You are the third person in the comments section who says that they have not experienced corporal punishment in school! I wonder how it is possible in India (of yesteryears)? Maybe some schools had banned it, even back then?

      And yes, there are quite a number of teachers who are sadists, etc. I feel that someone from the school management should talk to children regularly and get to know what is happening in class. That will enable them to identify such teachers.

      Destination Infinity

  6. I would say that corporal punishment in school is something that must never be practiced in school. This will only make the children be afraid of many things or afraid to commit mistakes (which is inevitable).
    There are many ways of giving discipline to them, so better choose something that could discipline them yet won’t let them feel fear.

    1. The problem with corporal punishment is, in the pretext of using it to discipline students, people here just vent out their frustration (elsewhere) or sadism on helpless kids. If the goal is to make kids afraid, it can be done in sublime ways without beating kids (like my first example).

      Destination Infinity

  7. I have got a lot of such punishments in my school. Although I was among top ranking students, I was notorious and talkative. So I was mostly an “outstanding” student- literally!!! I hope teachers of these days are better aware of such punishments and don’t torture kids.

    1. You too outstanding? Me too outstanding for not finishing homework! But outstanding is fun and can be a welcome break πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  8. We hear only rashly treated by teachers, that too rarely in newspapers. Threatening to taking to principle room happed for us too. I remember we had a math’s sir (during 4th and 5th STD) who has a special thick wooden scale and he doesn’t need to beat, seeing it itself scare us.
    Getting a slap is uneasy to forget and I still remember getting one for talking during her class.

    β€œPVC pipe” I think he didn’t get any oruttu kattai. I agree with your footnote. If teachers stopped beating, I am sure more children will love going to school voluntarily than getting forced by parents.

    1. Terrorizing kids to go to school or do something will make them prone to such things for life. This attitude can very much backfire, later.

      Destination Infinity

  9. Seriously even I’ve cone across many such staff who seem to think that a cane can do their work effectively. Come on, you are teachers for god’s sake, you are supposed to teach people some good values. They must stop hitting students,

  10. I was probably the naughtiest girl in my class and always got some sort of punishment. But never got any severe punishment though. But have seen some guys getting beaten badly. Once a teacher was about to hit one boy using his chair, he had even lifted it and then controlled himself πŸ™‚

    1. One adv. of being a girl is they don’t get beaten as frequently as a boy! I have seen one teacher push a guy so fiercely that he fell (crashed) on the door 6 feet away! But these incidents were rather rare πŸ™‚

      Destination Infinity

  11. in class 9th my maths teacher gave a slap to my brother on his face, as a result, he started bleeding, next day my dad went to school and got the teacher apologies in entire assembly .. there was case put against him and he was even suspended !

    1. OMG, bleeding and all that is quite severe. Fortunately, I didn’t come across any incident like that in my school.

      Destination Infinity

  12. Wow, there were all sorts of categories you saw eh??

    Hitting kids wiht a PVC pipe?? 😯 Also slapping is extreme.
    A smart smack on the arms, or the occasional caning was what I have encountered during my school days. Fortunately I was one of the decent obedient ones in those days so escaped most of this :mrgreen:

  13. now also once in a while some news come about xyz teacher giving harsh punishment. so it still exists. Being the class topper from class 1 to class 8 , I also never got any corporal punishment. But it was almost non existent too in my school.

  14. I went to all girls Catholic convent in Calcutta in the 80s where corporal punishment was very common and everyday affair. Most Sisters in the junior classes and few in the senior used to spank us, sometimes sharp slaps on the cheeks or with a wooden ruler on the buttocks,occasionally on the palms.
    The cane was used only by the Mother Superior on very rare occasions . I being one of the very naughty ones got spanked many a time, in fact lost count how many.Two occasions I remember is once in class 5 when three of us were given six hard whacks with our skirts lifted up in front of the class, for trying to scale the school boundary wall. The other occasion being caned by Mother S for trying out a smoke. The caning was really scary , even for a tough nut like me.The dark office, the scowling nun , and the long thin cane was quite terrifying. It made a looong swish and a loud thwack when it hit your bottom. It stung for a few minutes after, but it was more of fear than pain. I remember having wetted my knickers. We were sometimes really afraid going to school, especially when we knew we were to be punished, but having said that the discipline, and the overall caring atmosphere was really excellent.Compared to today’s schools of unmanageable indisciplined kids and uncaring teachers , I would gladly trade in the devoted nuns and teachers of the old even with their iron discipline.

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