Friday, December 23, 2011

"Paddling" A Relic of the Past at St. Augustine

I know that there are many who disagree with the efforts to end the practice of corporal punishment at St. Augustine High School, including many whose opinions on a lot of things I respect; but I think the final agreement to ban paddling as a manner of discipline is the right course of action. I just don't think whipping a kid is a productive way to handle misbehavior. I just hope the St. Augustine community of alumni and supporters will be able to put the controversy behind them and move forward.


Eric said...

I'm not for it in all cases or against it in all cases. I'm not sure I'd be comfortable with corporal punishment if my kid went to a larger public school. And private schools such as St Augustine have a lot more disciplinary tools at their disposal than public schools... if a kid continuously shows a lack of respect for a teacher in the classroom, a private school will eventually remove the kid from that classroom. Public schools have a very tough time doing this.

Teachers at our school seem to agree that re-establishing a limited corporal punishment program (after a decade-long absence) has helped them with classroom discipline. Most of our teachers are local people who I've known personally for most of my life, (for instance my daughter's science teacher this year is the same one I had in 5th grade, her math teacher used to date my nephew, and her social studies teacher is the older sister of one of my best friends) and our small community has a fairly homogeneous set of values. I feel like I can trust them to make disciplinary decisions similar to how I would.

I'd likely feel different about it if I sent my kid to a school where I had little idea of the background, quality, and caliber of the people making disciplinary decisions.

Huck said...

Even still, Eric, your comment reveals the basic reason why I oppose it -- because it is a policy that, in a sense, removes the decision-making about specific applications of discipline from the parents.

Now you might argue that a parent can make the choice to accept the use of corporal punishment by trusting the judgment of those who might use it against your child; but I would say that there's no one I could trust to know my parenting philosophy or practices well enough to make such a decision.

I just wouldn't want to abdicate the responsibility for such exercise of discipline over my children to others.

Eric said...

"I just wouldn't want to abdicate the responsibility for such exercise of discipline over my children to others."

And I'd say that isn't a problem if the discipline standard of your household insures that your kids are reasonably well-behaved at school. The problem is there are an awful lot of households where that is not the case, and our schools don't have a very effective set of tools for dealing with discipline problems. I take issue with the fact that society now accepts it as reasonable to drug kids (and let's be honest, when it comes to drugs or paddling, we are almost exclusively talking about young boys) in an attempt to get them to settle down in the classroom, but treats paddling like some kind of abuse.

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