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 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
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 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
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! 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?