Page 2, 17th August 1956

17th August 1956
Page 2
Page 2, 17th August 1956 — 11th Century Saint's View

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People: Anthony Arthur


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11th Century Saint's View

Punishment in Schools

Sir, God knows there are difficult pupils in every classroom, and one does not want to be too critical of the way in which a teacher defends himself (and the other children who want to work) from their activities.

But if a teacher deems it necessary to practice corporal punishment on all his pupils sometime or other (as one of your correspondents boasts of doing) there is something wrong with discipline in that classroom. I will go further and say that such a teacher would probably do serious interior damage to some of the well-behaved and sensitive sort of children. Naturally he would never notice it, being ipso facto rather obtuse.

As for taking a vote on it in the classroom, it rather reminds one of the elections behind the Iron Curtain,


Sir,-In the 11th century, St. Anselm had occasion to caution a fellow-teacher who held views similar to those of Mr. O'Halloran. "You say you never cease chastising them (i.e., your pupils)?" asks the saint "Then you teach them to no good purpose. If you were to plant a tree in your garden so as to straighten it on every side that it could in no manner spread out its branches . . . what kind of tree Would it grow to be? . . Is it not this what you are doing with (your) boys? . .. As they grow in body, so does hatred and suspicion of all things evil grow too, and they become ever more prone to what is had."

Eight hundred years later St. John Bosco echoed the same sentiment when he rebuked the advocate of corporal punishment: -The moment anyone is ill-used he becomes my friend." It is to be regretted that the Salesians do not have more boys' schools in Ireland.

I am quite confident that any religious or lay teacher who takes his vocation seriously would agree with the wisdom of these quotations. If Mr. O'Halloran is worried about the loss of esteem by using kinder methods of discipline, then I can only suggest that patience and forbearance are more important.

Anthony Arthur

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