Instead of Fear
Sir,—Having read the debate in the Irish Senate on corporal punishment for girls, and also the booklet " Punishment in Our Schools," published by the Irish School Children's Protection Society, 1 offer a few comments from the standpoint of an erstwhile teacher in our English schools, and now educational psychologist.
In England there are no rules and regulations regarding corporal punishments for the whole country, but each local authority draws up its own. Some have abolished it, others specifically forbid the chastisement of girls by male teachers, others again limit the amount.
Some of us would like to see it abolished completely, but we who are older can all testify that the practice has declined as the skill and understanding of our teachers has grown. Real abuses are rare, and parents are seldom afraid to take the matter up when they occur.
Other factors making for easier teaching. at least compared with Ireland, are the smaller and better graded classes and. judging by the Senate report, the greater understanding by our inspectors and teachers of the individual differences between pupils.
The regulations issued by the Irish Ministry of Education are wise and moderate. If they were obeyed. there might be no need for further rules. In short, it is not so much the regulations that want altering. except perhaps the forbidding of corporal punishment of girls by men, but the attitude of the teachers and managers and their very difficult conditions of work.
Theletter of Mr. O'Halloran suggests that with young children below the use of reason, corporal punishment must be used in preparation for the dawn of rational life. But small children do not control their unruly instincts either through the use of the stick or very much through reason. They do so through the love, affection and respect they hear towards the parent or teacher.
War is a less civilised method of settling disputes than arbitration, and the Church, though not condemning war. suggests that all other methods should be tried first The same is surely true in our dealings with wayward children. In both cases. since " perfect. love casteth out fear," is it not more civilised and certainly more Christian to try to induce good behaviour through good relationships rather than on the instinctive motive of fear that can be as easily induced in a dog?
As to the actual facts regarding Irish schools, I can only comment that (a) Irish teachers in our English Catholic schools are, in my experience (both familial and professional), more prone than others to resort to force, sarcasm and ridicule; (h) the Irish in this country admit to the heating that went on in their schools at home. Many of my informants on this have been
women and girls. • A young Irish curate was amused at my condemning the beating of girls by men teachers and saw nothing out-of-the-way about it As for the results of both methods: Anyone will agree that the school with the mild discipline produces the best tone and the greater respect for authority. Where the stick is in full Klass order deteriorates and bullying is rampant, Never to use the cane is, I am afraid. a counsel of perfection, but nevertheless, the rest of us can learn a lot front those who have chosen the better part.
(Miss) Kate Rorke. Bridge House.
A Model Convent ?
Sir,—With reference to your article on education in convents, we would like to state that we have been educated in a convent for many years and have found no reason for complaint.
Our Convent runs a parent teacher association so that the parents know everything that goes on in the school.
The VI formers are allowed out every day without permission, at stated times, and the younger hoarders are permitted to go out on Saturday mornings with a VI former. This develops a sense of responsibility in the VI formers and gives the younger ones a sense of freedom.
We have a daily newspaper and our interest in political affairs is furthered by talks given by prominent local political personalities.
We are also allowed to use the radios and gramophones during recreation times.
Our interest in sporting events is encouraged by the use of television. for such events as the Test matches, Wimbledon and the Boat Race. In fact some of the V and Vi form cricket enthusiasts enjoyed a day at Arundel watching the Australians play their first match against the Duke of Norfolk's eleven.
With regard to your objection to over-strictness in religious duties, we would like to state that we are only obliged to go to Mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation.
The VI Form. Our Lady of Sion,
The Pupil's View
Sir,—I should like to say that, having been educated for fourteen years at a Convent school, I ant not suffering from repression, nor am I in any way neurotic. God was not presented to me " in a way calculated to make Him unlovable," in fact, such a deep love of God was instilled into us that more than once in my experience a child from the school was the means of bringing hack lapsed parents to the practice of their duties.
A Child of the Sacred Heart.