|A Study of Attitudes Towards Corporal
Punishment as an Educational Procedure From the Earliest Times to the Present
by Robert McCole Wilson
|table of contents|
|3. THE RISE OF HUMANISM
AND THE CONFLICT WITH TRADITION
In the Middle Ages, one teaching method prevailed -- the fear of the rod; after 1450, artistic, intellectual and political outlooks and practices changed rather quickly, but social practices were much slower to change, education being one of them. But by the end of the period covered in this chapter, that is, about 1800, a vocal and ever-growing minority held that the traditional method of beating knowledge into a child was not only debasing, but also self-defeating.
|3.1 Renaissance Italy
The intellectual revolution of the 14th century and later, which had its beginnings in Italy and which is usually called the Renaissance, had its educational dimension. This was partly, if not largely, stimulated by the rediscovery of classical writers including Plutarch and Quintilian. The first man to show the new influences was Pietro Paolo Vergerio (1340-1420), and significantly one of his major contributions was an exposition of Quintilian's Education of an Orator. The influence of this Classical writer can be seen in Vergerio's own work, On the manners of a Gentleman and on Liberal Studies:
|The master must judge how far he can rely on emulation,
rewards, encouragement; how far he must have recourse to sterner measures. Too much
leniency is objectionable; so also is too much severity, for we must avoid all that
terrifies a boy. (edited by Woodward, 1963, 103)
|The moderation and avoidance of fear recommended here are
very important. The emphasis is on the teacher's responsibility to find a moderate
approach; Vergerio seems to recognise that no set rules or methods are a substitute for
good sense. In another passage, he also seems to recognise that a certain high
spiritedness is natural to children and should be allowed to run its course, rather than
be treated as something to be corrected by punishment.
|This [flux of bodily humours], moreover, produces also that
intensity or passion in all that they do which scarcely admits of precepts of moderation,
and certainly not of harsh condemnation, for it belongs to their age, and has its proper
function in early years. (Woodward, 1963, 99)
|The most influential of the Italian teachers of this period
was Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446) who is referred to by William Boyd as "the first
modern schoolmaster" (Boyd, 1961, 164). W.H. Woodward, who has studied the educators
of this period in depth, says of Vittorino:
|Naturally quick-tempered, he had schooled himself to a
self-control which never gave way except in the face of irreverence or looseness. Corporal
punishment was seldom resorted to, and then only after deliberation, and as the alternate
to expulsion. For ill-prepared work the penalty imposed was the compulsory re-learning of
the task after school hours. But it was a part of Vittorino's purpose to attract rather
than to drive, and to respect the dignity and the freedom of his boys. (Woodward, 1965,
|The third of the noted early Humanist educators, Battista
Guarino (1374-1460) shows the influence of Quintilian even more clearly than the others on
this topic. We can see in the following passage ideas almost identical to those in the
passage quoted earlier from Quintilian.
|Faults, moreover, imbibed in early years, as Horace reminds
us, are by no means easy to eradicate. Next, the master must not be prone to flogging as
an inducement to learning. It is an indignity to a free-born youth, and its infliction
renders learning itself repulsive, and the dread of it provokes to unworthy evasions on
the part of timorous boys. The scholar is thus morally and intellectually injured, the
master is deceived, and the discipline altogether fails in its purpose.
The habitual instrument of the teacher must be kindness, though punishment should be retained as it were in the background as a final resource. In the case of older boys, emulation and the sense of shame, which shrinks from the discredit of failure, may be relied upon. I advise also that boys, at this stage, work together with a view to encouraging a healthy spirit of rivalry between them, from which much benefit may be expected. Large classes should be discouraged, especially for beginners, for though a fair average excellence may be apparently secured, thorough grounding, which is so important, is impossible. (edited by Woodward, 1963, 163)
|We see here, then, as we saw in Quintilian a mixture of
ethical and motivational arguments. It is debasing and it will not work. The methods to be
used in place of corporal punishment are those recommended by the earlier writer. While
Guarino does not mention, as does Quintilian, that the teacher's character may be at
fault, there is a new note, a hint that teaching conditions, specifically class size, may
influence the success or otherwise of the teacher.
It is difficult to assess the influence of these men outside their schools, but we can see in their work the application of philosophical principles to teaching practices. They did not adopt the prevailing practices, but attempted to develop methods which were on the one hand humane, and on the other hand efficacious, and were successful to a remarkable degree. Perhaps the most significant aspect of their achievement was that they were practising teachers, not scholars or philosophers laying down abstract principles which others would be expected to put into practice.
|3.2 The Northern Renaissance
As would be expected from a man of such wide interests, the greatest of the Humanist writers, Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536), also had much to say on education. Even though he was not a practising schoolteacher himself, his work is of particular note because his comments are on such a human and practical level, and because he was so widely read and influential.
As can be seen in the following passage from De pueris statim ac liberaliter instituendis (On the liberal education of boys from the beginning) he places the fault for most of the use of flogging on the lazy or incompetent teacher. The damage it can do in driving the child from learning is clearly emphasized.
A poor master, we are prepared to find, relies almost wholly upon fear of punishment as
the motive to work. To frighten a whole class is easier than to teach one boy properly;
for the latter is, and always must be, a task as serious as it is honorable. It is equally
true of states: the rule which carries the respect and consent of the citizens demands
higher qualities in the Prince than does the tyranny of forces.
|This last statement is the earliest noted by the present
writer that clearly recognizes the existence of "sadism" in connection with
teaching, a human state that did not even have a name until the 19th century.
In the previous passage Erasmus has been concerned with the use of beating as a poor instructional procedure. He then goes on to state, as Quintilian did, that it is ignoble for a person, including a child, to suffer from this indignity. The passage is particularly significant because in it he rejects the Old Testament view which dominated Europe for centuries before and after the time of Erasmus.
|It is indeed, the mark of the servile nature to be drilled by
fear; why then do we suffer children (whose very name imports free men, "liberi"
-- those born fit for a "liberal" training), to be treated as slaves, might be?
Yet even slaves, who are men like the rest of us, are by wise masters freed from something
of their servile state by humane control. Let a father stand towards his son in a more
kindly relation than that of a master towards his serfs. If we put away tyrants from their
thrones, why do we erect a new tyranny for our own sons? Is it not meet that Christian
peoples cast forth from their midst the whole doctrine of slavery in all its forms?
Paul shows us that a slave is a "dear brother"; and that all Christian believers, whether bond or free, are fellow servants of one Lord. In speaking of parents as regards their children the Apostle warns them that they "provoke not their children to wrath, but bring them up in the chastening and admonition of the Lord." And what the "chastening" of the Lord Jesus should imply, he may readily perceive who considers with what gentleness, forgiveness, affection, He trained, cherished, and bore with his own disciples. (Erasmus, 1964 edition, 206-207)
|He sums up his position as follows:
|Teaching by beating, therefore, is not a liberal education.
Nor should the schoolmaster indulge in too strong and too frequent language of blame.
Medicine constantly repeated loses its force. You may quote against me the old proverb:
"He that spareth the rod hateth his own son." Well perhaps, that may have been
true of the Jews. But I do not accept it as true for Christians today. If we are to
"bow the necks" and "chastise", as we are bidden to do, let us see to
it that the rod we use is the word of guidance or of rebuke, such as free men may obey,
that our discipline be of kindness and not of vindictiveness. (Erasmus, 1964 edition, 208)
|His alternative is worth noting, for it may well be argued by
some that its effects on the child could be far worse than the occasional beating.
|But I am, at heart, with Quintilian in deprecating flogging
under any conditions. If then you ask, "What is to be done with boys who respond to
no other spur?" My answer is: "What would you do if an ox or an ass strayed into
your classroom?" turn him out to the plough or the pack-saddle, no doubt. Well, so
there are boys good only for the farm or manual toil; send your dunces there for their own
good. (Erasmus, 1964 edition, 209)
|There is something rather curious here: the child must not
suffer the indignity of being treated like a slave -- but he is to be treated like an
While Erasmus' attack on corporal punishment is the strongest one we have seen so far, his arguments are not significantly different from Quintilian's.
Before leaving this writer, the following Colloquy is worth quoting, partly because its shows his understanding of the effect that fear can have on the child's attitude to school, and partly because it uses the narrative form which is much more effective as a propaganda vehicle than the exposition. We can see here an early example of the method which Dickens was later to use with such power.
|JOHN: And you're familiar with the
master's severity. To him every fault is a capital crime. He no more spares our backsides
than if they were bullhide.
SYLVIUS: But he won't be at school.
JOHN: Then what substitute has he appointed?
JOHN: That goggle-eyes? Woe to our backsides. He's worse than Orbilius when it comes to flogging.
SYLVIUS: True, and therefore I've often prayed he'd get paralized in the arm.
JOHN: It's not right to curse the master. Instead we ought to be careful not to fall into the tyrant's clutches.
SYLVIUS: Let's take turns repeating the lesson, one reciting and the other looking in the book.
JOHN: A good idea.
SYLVIUS: See that you keep your wits about you, for fear blocks the memory.
JOHN: I could easily lay my fright aside as if there were no danger. But who could be free from anxiety in such extreme peril.
SYLVIUS: Admitted; but it's not a matter of off with your head but off with your hide.
(Erasmus, 1965 edition, 132)
|This is no doubt a fair representation of many, or even most,
teaching situations in Erasmus' time. It is of particular interest because it gives a
dramatic, yet psychologically sound, representation of the child's point of view.
Another loud outcry against what he considered the barbarous teaching practices of his time comes from Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592). His approach is also generally the same as Quintilian's: that is, he objects to corporal punishment both because it humiliates the child, and because it does more to prevent than to help the child learn. His position is presented in the following rather long, but persuasive, passage.
|For the rest, this education is to be carried on with severe
gentleness, not as is customary. Instead of being invited to letters, children are shown
in truth nothing but horror and cruelty. Away with violence and compulsion. There is
nothing to my mind which so depraves and stupefies a wellborn nature. If you would like
him to fear shame and chastisement, don't harden him to them. Harden him to sweat and cold
and wind and sun, and the dangers he must scorn; wean him from all softness and delicacy
in dressing and sleeping, eating and drinking; accustom him to everything. Let him be a
pretty boy and a little lady, but a lusty and vigorous youth.
As a boy, a man, and a graybeard, I have always thought and judged in the same way. But, among other things, I have always disliked the discipline of most of our schools. They might have erred less harmfully by leaning towards indulgence. They are a real jail of captive youth. They make them slack, by punishing them for slackness before they show it. Go in at lesson time: you hear nothing but cries, both from tortured boys and from masters drunk with rage. What a way to arouse zest for their lessons in these tender and timid souls, to guide them to it with horrible scowl and hands armed with rods! Wicked and pernicious system. Besides as Quintilian very rightly remarked, this imperious authority brings on dangerous consequences, and especially in our manner of punishment. How much more fittingly would their classes be strewn with flowers and leaves than with the bloody stumps of rods! I would have portraits there of Joy and Gladness, and Flora and the Graces, as the philosopher Speusippus had in his school. Where there profit is, let there frolic be also. Healthy foods should be sweetened for the child, and harmful ones dipped in gall. (Montaigne, no date, 122-123)
To return to my subject, there is nothing like arousing appetite and affection; otherwise all you make out of them is asses loaded with books. By dint of whipping, they are given their pocketful of learning for safekeeping; but if learning is to do us any good, we must not merely lodge it within us, but expose it. (Ibid., 131)
|While the logic may be the same as Quintilian's, the
compassion for the child, the feeling that the way of education should be involved in the
beauty, joy and reality of nature, foreshadows the romantic writers. In this environment,
the infliction of violence by man on child has no part.
It is worth quoting the following passage, for it shows Montaigne's recognition that many children can be annealed to physical punishment. Some may call this brutalizing them, others may call it hardening, but whatever it is called, we must note that excessive use diminishes the effectiveness of most motivations, including pain.
|I have seen men, women, and children naturally so constituted
that a beating is less to them than a flick of the finger to me; who moves neither tongue
nor eyebrows at the blows they receive. (Montaigne, no date, 113)
|Much of Montaigne's approach results from his understanding
of the different types of responses, both emotional and intellectual, that different
children will give to the same treatment. He scorns the common practice of trying to teach
"many minds of different attainments and kinds with the same lesson and same
discipline". (Montaigne, no date, 134).
Both Erasmus and Montaigne were to be among the most widely read essayists for several hundreds of years. Their comments on education and the treatment of children must have stimulated others to think along similar lines. And it is likely that their readers, in an age when literacy and culture were the possession of a few, would be in positions to influence others either through persuasion or decree.
|3.3 Protestant Leaders
Probably the most important social changes in this period were part of or the result of the religious Reformation. A central theme for the Protestants was a return to the Bible as the sole and unquestionable authority. This would have an effect on education, for where schools were organised, they were usually under the direction of the church; where private tutors were employed, if they were not clergy, then they would most probably be trained by clergy.
A literal adoption of Old Testament edicts dominates the attitude of Martin Luther (1483-1546) towards corporal punishment. His premises are quite clear: the child's soul must be saved at the expense of all other things including his body, and man is constantly tempted to evil; the conclusion is quite clear.
|A false love blinds parents so that they regard the body of
their child more than his soul. Hence the wise man says, "He that spareth his rod
hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes". (Prov. XIII,24)
... Hence it is highly necessary that all parents regard the soul of their child more than his body, and look upon him as a precious, eternal treasure, which god has entrusted to them for preservation, so that the world, the flesh, and the devil do not destroy him. For at death and in the judgement they will have to render a strict account of their stewardship. (quoted in Painter, 1889, 124)
|The emphasis on the responsibility of the parent to bring his
children up rightly as shown here, is further emphasized. The well-meaning parent would
surely have to stifle his sympathies if he really cared for his child.
|Such people as thus fondle and indulge their children must
bear the sins of their children as if committed by themselves. (Ibid., 125)
|But he warns against excessive "passionate
violence" on the part of the parent for
|... such discipline begets in the child's mind which is yet
tender, a state of fear and imbecility, and develops a feeling of hate towards the
parents, so that it often runs away from home. (Ibid., 123)
That he was prepared to follow his own pronouncements is shown in his biography. When
others tried to intercede on behalf of his disobedient son, Luther replied, "I would
rather have a dead than a disobedient son" (Ibid., 123).
|Break your child's will, in order that it may not perish.
Break its will as soon as it can speak plainly -- or even before it can speak at all. It
should be forced to do as it is told, even if you have to whip it ten times running. Break
its will, in order that its soul may live. (quoted by James, 1902, 182)
|Toward the end of the 19th century this continuing influence
of the literal acceptance of the Old Testament edicts is shown by F.V. Painter, the editor
of Luther's educational works. After describing Luther's acceptance of the need for
corporal punishment, Painter commends him as follows: "Luther's nature was far too
sound ever to sink into morbid sentimentality" (Painter, 1889, 124).
But there was one Protestant leader who stands out as being an educator far ahead of his time, John Amos Comenius (1592-1670). By Comenius' own description, there was a great need for improvement in teaching methods.
|The method used in instructing the young has generally been
so severe that schools have been looked on as terrors for boys and shambles for their poor
intellects. (Comenius, 1967 edition, XI, 7)
|In his comments on discipline, Comenius was very close to
Quintilian, though not as clear as he might have been.
|Now no discipline of a severe kind should be exercised in
connection with studies or literary exercises, but only where questions of morality are at
stake. (Ibid., XXVI, 4)
|But he later says:
|Finally, if some characters are unaffected by gentle methods,
recourse must be had to more violent ones, and every means should be tried before any
pupil is pronounced impossible to teach. Without doubt there are many to whom the proverb
"Beating is the only thing that improves a Phrygian" applies with great force.
And it is certain that, even if such measures do not produce any great effect on the boy
who is punished, they act as a great stimulus to the others by inspiring them with fear.
(Ibid., XXVI, 9)
|Probably what has happened here, as happens with so many
teachers, is that there is a theoretical objection, but faced with a particularly
recalcitrant child, the principle gives way to expediency.
The arguments he advances against corporal punishment as a stimulus to learn are the usual ones. Frequently, the teacher, with his poor methods, is more at fault than the child; the use of force may do more harm than good by bringing about a strong dislike for learning; other methods are much better:
|The gardener .... does not apply the pruning knife to plants
that are immature. In the same way a musician does not strike his lyre a blow with his
fist or with a stick, nor does he throw it against the wall because it produces a
discordant sound; but, setting to work on scientific principles he tunes it and gets it
into order. (Ibid., XXVI, 4)
|Some of his alternatives, though, are as strongly opposed
today as corporal punishment. He strongly advocates, for instance, public humiliation for
the slow learner. "It is often of use to laugh at the backward ones" (Ibid.,
XXVI, 5). He apparently feels that mental torture is an acceptable substitute for physical
Comenius does not hesitate to recommend physical discipline for moral delinquencies, such as going against God, for disobedience, for stubbornness and premeditated misbehaviour, conscious neglect of duty, pride, disdain, envy, idleness, and even for refusing to help a fellow student who asks for it.
|3.4 Continental Education before 1800
The Catholic religious orders which established schools paid much attention to the prescription of teaching practices, including methods of discipline.
The following quotations are from Rules for the Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Ratio Studiorum of 1599 issued by a committee of the Society of Jesus appointed by the fourth general. This Plan of Studies was an authoritative regulation not only of subject, but also of method to be used in Jesuit schools.
|Rule 38. The Corrector.
Because of those who have erred in industry or in those matters which pertain to good morals, and since mere good words and urgings will not affect them, let there be appointed a Corrector who is not of the society.
Rule 39. The Case for Those Who Refuse Correction.
Those who refuse punishment are either to be compelled, if it can be safely done, or if at any time they would seem improper, namely, with order students, they are to be forbidden to attend school with the knowledge, however, of the Rector; and the same is for those who are frequently absent from class.
Rule 41. Punishment.
If an occasion arises when it is not a sufficient remedy for the scandal given to expel from classes, let him bring the matter before the Rector that he may decide what further is fitting to be done. Still as much as is possible the affair must be conducted in a spirit of gentleness, with peace and charity toward all.
Rule 42. Method of Punishment.
Let there be no haste in punishing, nor too much in accusing; let him rather dissimulate, when he can without hurt to anyone; and let him not punish anyone himself (for that is the duty of the Corrector), but abstain entirely from injury in word or attack in deed; let him not call anyone by any other name than his own, or his surname: sometimes it is helpful, in place of punishment, to add some literary task beyond the daily assignment. Let him refer to the Prefect any unusual or severe penalty. (quoted in Ulich, 1963, 28)
|Unfortunately we do not have a statement from the authors of
these rules as to why they felt them necessary or desirable. One way of looking at them is
that they seek to prevent what was common practice, so if we take what was regulated
against, we get a picture of some of the customs of the time.
Another way of looking at them, is to ask on what philosophy of teaching practice, or ideals of life are they based? The following are some suggestions. The relationship between the teacher and student must be a cordial one which can be damaged if the teacher inflicts punishment; therefore someone other than the teacher must punish. It is inevitable that some students will misbehave to the point of interfering with, or preventing, the learning of others; something must be done to stop this. When punishment must be given, it must not be in the heat of the moment. We should note with interest the recognition that ridicule, for example by name-calling, can be just as harmful to a teacher-student relationship as physical punishment.
That the theory of the Jesuits was put into practice is generally attested.
|Yet though repression of natural impulse was an essential
part of the system, the discipline of the schools was never harsh. Physical punishments
were rare, and every endeavour was made to make love of the teacher and the school rather
than external coercion the impelling motive for work. (Boyd, 1952, 207)
|A member of the Order of the Oratory, founded in France in
1614, Pere Lamy, writing in 1683, said of the methods of his religious order:
|There are many other ways besides the rod, and to lead pupils
back to their duty, a caress, a threat, the hope of a reward, or the fear of humiliation,
has greater efficiency than whips. There is needed a sort of politics to govern this
little community, -- to lead them through their inclinations; to foresee the effect of
reward and punishments, and to employ them according to their proper use. There are times
of stubbornness when a child would sooner be killed than yield. (quoted by Compayré,
|Jean Baptiste de la Salle (1651-1719) set forth the methods
to be used by his teachers of the Institute of Christian Brothers in The Conduct of
Schools. As would be expected in such a practical work, discipline is dealt with in
|Experience affords sufficient proof, that to perfect those
who are committed to our care, we must act in a manner both gentle and firm ... The
correction of the pupils is one of the most important things to be done in schools, and
one which requires the greatest care in order that it be timely and beneficial. (quoted by
Battersby, 1949, 97)
|De la Salle then enumerates the various methods to be used:
the Reprimand, Penances, the Ferule, the Rod, and finally, Expulsion.
|37. The Freres shall take the greatest care that they very
rarely punish their children, as they ought to be persuaded that, by refraining as much as
possible from punishment, they will best succeed in properly conducting a school, and in
establishing order in it.
38. When punishment shall have become absolutely necessary, they shall take the greatest care to punish with the greatest moderation and presence of mind, and never to do it under the influence of a hasty movement, or when they feel irritated.
39. They shall watch over themselves that they never exhibit the least anger or impatience, either in their corrections, or in any of their words or actions; as they ought to be convinced, that if they do not take these precautions the scholars will not profit from their correction, (and the Freres ought never to correct except with the object of benefiting children) and god will not give the correction His blessing.
40. They shall not at any time give to their scholars any injurious epithet or insulting name.
41. They shall also take the greatest care not to strike their scholars with hand, foot, or stick, nor to push them rudely.
42. They shall take great care not to pull their ears, their hair, or their noses, nor to fling anything at them; these kinds of corrections ought not be practiced by the Freres, as they are very indecent and opposed to charity and Christian kindness.
43. They shall not correct their scholars during prayers, or at the time of catechizing, except when they cannot defer the correction.
44. They shall not use corporal punishment, except when every other means of correction has failed to produced the right effect.
(in Cubberley's Readings, 1920, 284)
|There is an interesting similarity between these rules and
the ones that were introduced in North America after the 1830's. As one translation of
them was made and published at that time in the American Journal of Education by
the prominent American educator, Barnard, they seem to have set a pattern which was to be
There are two things that emerge from the Brothers' Rules quite strongly. One is that teachers must never let their own resentments and frustrations intrude in the administration of punishment. The second is that the child's individuality, sensibilities and dignities are to be respected. This is clearly spelled out in the following passage.
|When a teacher, not considering himself, does not know how to
sympathize with the weakness of children, he exaggerates their faults, reprimands and
punishes them, and acts as though he were dealing with an insensible instrument rather
than with a creature of reason. (quoted by Battersby, 1949, 98)
|Great care must be taken that the child feels that the
punishment is just and appropriate, and that no long term harm such as general dislike for
school comes from the administration of punishment.
The list of offences for which punishment is to be given are all moral; there is no mention of such things as failure to learn. Punishment is necessary for stubbornness, but care is taken to distinguish between stubbornness, which is willful misbehaviour or inattention, and the merely heedless, whose "faults do not come from pure malice, but thoughtlessness" (quoted by Cole, 1965, 387).
De la Salle's biographer quotes a M. Blain, who visited the schools in 1773.
|The brothers practiced the method of teaching with hardly any
use of punishments with such effect that they began to make it a rule to exclude
punishment entirely from their schools. (quoted by Battersby, 1949, 98)
|In 1811, a revision of The Conduct of Schools removed
corporal punishment from the list of acceptable practices. In 1870, Frere Philip said
"imperative circumstances no longer permit us to tolerate corporal punishment in our
schools" (quoted by Compayré, 1887, 271).
It would seem that if physical punishment is the measure used, it was better to be a Catholic child than a Protestant child in those days.
An influential French secular writer during his own time, Rollin (1661-1741) published his Treatise on Studies in 1726 to 1728. It was "not like Emile which was published twenty years later, a work of venturesome inquiry and original novelties; but it is a faithful exposition of the methods in use, and a discreet commentary on them" (Compayré, 1887, 236). He hesitantly allows the use of the rod, but denounces it for all but extreme and desperate cases. The approach to all punishments should be reasonable, with the master being sure that it is not carried out in anger (see Compayré, 1887, 250-251).
In 1607, Henry IV of France wrote to the governor of the future Louis XIII:
|I complain because you did not inform me that you had whipped
my son; for I desire and order you to whip him every time that he shall be guilty of
obstinacy or of anything else that is bad; for I well know that there is nothing in the
world that can do him more good than that. This I know from the lessons of experience, for
when I was his age, I was soundly flogged. (quoted by Compayré, 1887, 147)
|Two hundred years later, opinion in France was strongly
against corporal punishment except in extreme cases. In the 19th century it was eliminated
in contrast to and as an example for English speaking countries.
In Prussia, August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) had a great influence on the establishment of, and the methods used in, the elementary schools. Francke's encouragement of education, his curriculum and his methods all stem from his desire to see the wickedness of human nature conquered. That discipline should be based on love, but a love that is restrained and controlled, is shown in the following passage.
|It generally happens that most teachers out of lack of
adequate experience and love try to compel goodness through sharp external punishment
rather than to enfold those entrusted to their care in a spirit of love and to bring their
hearts to goodness with fatherly loyalty, patience and foresight. Whoever has such
paternal affection .... will not neglect admonition and punishment; however, insofar as is
possible he will not disrupt education by use of physical force and hardness, nor give in
in the least to the feeling of anger, but with all kindness and sweetness he will plant in
their hearts a childish fear of God and a love toward God and Christ. With friendliness a
teacher makes more progress than with everlasting scolding and beating.
... No child should be scolded or punished because he is slow to learn. The teacher should not become impatient and angry if a child, because of limited ability, cannot immediately grasp something, but he should in gentleness and patience that much the more diligently teach ... Profane words and ridicule are absolutely not to be used on children, since they are more hurt than helped thereby. A teacher may not call them, out of impatience, oxen, asses, pigs, dogs, beasts, fools, scoundrels, swineherds and so on, and still less children of the devil. One shall not swear at them, nor wish them evil ... No child is to be struck on the head with the hand, with a stick, a ruler or a book. Still less may one box a child's ears .... because the children do not profit thereby and such harm may be done to both their spirit and health. No child should be pulled hither by the arms, yanked by the ear, nor flicked with the stick on the hands or fingers.
.... In all punishment one must consider the individuality of the child, so that the teacher should take care to learn the disposition of his children, so that he will not discipline the shy and sensitive spirits as he does the hardened and imprudent children; for more children can be won with words than with blows. (quoted by Cole, 1965, 389-390)
|Francke was apparently quite prepared to use corporal
punishment, but not from the whim of the moment, and only in a prescribed way, for
prescribed offences. He recognized that each child must be treated as an individual in
such matters, that excessive punishment can do harm, and, in particular, he warned against
using it as a motivation for learning, particularly for the less able.
But general reform in Germany had to wait for the influence of Pestalozzi at the end of the 18th century. Speaking in 1846, Adolf Diesterwerg (1790-1866) contrasted the schools of before the reforms, with his own time.
|Parents governed children, too young to attend, by threats of
the schoolmaster and the school; and when they went it was with fear and trembling. The
rod, the cane, the raw-hide, were necessary apparatus in each school. The punishments of
the teacher exceeded those of a prison. Kneeling on peas, sitting on the shame bench,
standing in the pillory, wearing an ass-cap, standing before the school door in the open
street with a label on the back or breast, and other similar devices, were the remedies
which the rude men of the age devised. (Cubberley's Readings, 1920, 389)
|In the schools of the Catholic orders and later in the Prussian schools we have an organised system of education where regulations were set out, not only for content, but also for teaching methods. These regulations were carefully thought out and imposed, and supervised from the top. In an age when the cry is for teachers to be allowed independence of method, and for freedom from supervision, it is well to remember that while regulations may prevent the development of new and better methods, they may also eliminate undesirable practices and control hasty and inappropriate personal whims. In the history of corporal punishment, this appears to have happened; corporal punishment as a general procedure was not done away with first of all by the personal convictions of the teachers, but by the imposition of regulations by a controlling authority.|
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