Punishment Problem in Ireland
Sir.--One of your correspondents has asked, "Would not the establishment of Catholic parent-teacher associations, as exist in many places, do much to promote cooperation between parents and teachers for the welfare of the children, and make such an unfortunate sounding society as the School-children's Protection Organisation unnecessary?" The answer is of course emphatically "Yes," and we have always advocated
such associations, but many of
your readers will not understand the position in Ireland.
Our ancient Irish traditions of correction and discipline based on years of experience of thousands of school-managers and teachers, tend to be antagonistic to such a progressive idea. This was exemplified when recently in our Senate, a Senator enquired what would be the Minister for Education's views of Parent-teacher Parish Committees? The answer was one word only-"Soviets." We have abundant evidence that the natural rights of parents in educational matters are completely ignored in many cases in our National Primary schools. In our experience we have found that it is extremely difficult for a parent to receive any attention whatever from the Department of Education in respect of a complaint and a proper investigation would be a miracle. Some excuse perhaps may he made for the Department's apathy on this point as they have no power to hold a sworn enquiry and it is not the practice to disclose the findings (if any) to any person other than the School Manager, not even to a member of the Oireactas.
Having found it difficult to reconcile this unfortunate position with Catholic Teaching on the rights and duties of parents, we published our booklet "Punishment in our Schools' which gives the experiences and views of seventy of the hundreds of parents who have written to us, and we suggested that the situation justified an independent public enquiry. For such presumptuousness we were branded by the Minister for Education as being "Aliens, not of this country or its traditions."
In the circumstances it is understandable that your readers may observe, in contributions from some writers from this country, an underlying suggestion that we in Ireland are exempt from any expressed directives relating to education by Our HO. Father.
Constance O'Connell (Mrs.) Hon. Secretary, Sthool-Children's Protection Organisation. 19 Lincoln Place, Dublin.