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School Discipline

norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
Yesterday, we had an interesting Sunday lunch.

I started school in 1937, and I returned, many years later, as a peripatetic music teacher, until 2011, so my school experiences covered more than a seventy year span. I saw many changes.

Our eldest daughter is a Director of Music Services, and her husband is ex Cambridge University, now an Educational Advisor in the London area.

Our younger daughter is a full time music teacher.

Having a great deal of educational experience between us, it was interesting to talk about school discipline with our 20 year old grand daughter, and 22 year old grand son.

On a personal level, I did have the cane a couple of times for misdemeanours. It taught me not to do it again, and I believe that the majority of the older generation would feel the same.

When I was at school, there was always the 'hard' boy, or bully, so some things do not change. They would be caned. It may not have changed them, but the majority of pupils, in my school days, were more obedient because of the discipline rules.

Our daughters and son in law, the middle generation, had mixed feelings, but, our two grand children, both said that current school discipline was sadly lacking, and that some of their own generation had no respect for teachers, simply because they knew that teachers had a difficult task to achieve good discipline, and to find teacher/pupil respect was very difficult. Interestingly, they both said that, for some bad pupil behaviour, a school caning threat might not be a bad idea. It could reduce bad behaviour, BUT, if not used correctly, it could also increase bad behaviour, and bullying teachers.

They both agreed that pupils found with knives, drugs, or suspected of bullying, should be given more severe punishment. Also they both agreed that pupil suspension, or expulsion did not really work. Some were regarded by their fellow pupils as 'heroes'. Some expelled pupils were also delighted to be out of school.

We all agreed that school discipline needs a complete review.

Eddie
 

Smudger

master brummie
Eddie,

The teachers today are in a no win situation. Todays schoolkids are "streetwise" & know they can get away with the sort of stuff our generation would have been punished for. The do-gooders have imo opened the floodgates for bad behaviour. I only had the cane once, & i made matters worse by pulling my hand away before the cane hit. The rest of the class thought it was funny, but it just meant two extra strokes for me. I`m not sure if the cane is the right road to take, but there has to be a more strict regime in class. Not gonna happen though.
 

Old Boy

master brummie
Hi All,

I could not agree more with you that school discipline needs a complete review. I started school in 1932 and the cane was an ever present threat. I had it about twice on the hand. It stung but did not really hurt. The worst thing about it was loss of face with my fellow pupils especially the girls. Which boy enjoyed being humiliated in front of a girl? When I was 11 I started at Grammar School. THere was no cane there but the standard punishment was a hundred lines. Believe me I would have preferred the cane.

Possibly because of the cane there was very little misbehaviour. We also all sat facing the teacher and the blackboard. I do not like the present idea of the children sat around in groups so that the teacher needs an assistant teacher to help keep an eye on what was going on.

My son in law was appointed head of a local Birmingham School. In his first week he found himself in the Birmingham Mail respecting a pupil who had been expelled for assaulting a teacher. His mother had complained and had made counter allegations that the teacher ws the aggessor. Poor Keith was asked to comment on a situation in which he had had no part and knew very little.

Old Boy
 
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norfolk brummie

gone but not forgotten
One of the subjects that I raised yesterday, was the modern High School. I have no problems with mixed infant and junior schools but I was brought up in the senior school with boys only, (Golden Hillock Road), and my sister went to a girls only high school (Conway Road). My personal view that that they do not mix in the high school, even more so when todays high school pupils are much more..............as Smudger has suggested, 'streetwise'............ and much more sex wise than I ever was. Having all attended mixed high schools, the rest of my family did not agree with me.

I feel the current high school boy & girl situation can be emotional, create envy, and arguments, and more importantly, can be very distracting during lessons, and of course the modern, 'all around a table' lesson is not good at all. We had pupil problems at the senior school, even with just boys, but today........!!

A few years ago, whilst teaching at one high school, during the lunch period, I had to go around the back of the stage to get some equipment. It was completely dark, and I heard this muffling sound, I pulled back the curtain, and there was a boy and girl in a sexual embrace. They looked very flustered when I caught them, and I told them to get back with their friends, "right now, or I will throw a bucket of water over the pair of you". They both looked very sheepish, and later on the girl came and apologised to me. I was going to report it, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt. So you see, I do not believe in mixed High Schools. My opinion only.

Eddie
 

Morturn

Super Moderator
Staff member
One of the greatest advances in education was the abolition of corporal punishment in schools. Physical punishment is a quick fix that is ineffective in the long term, interferes with learning, produces numerous harmful side effects, and is a form of violence that transgresses against children's rights.

People who inflect violence on others do so for personal gratification and pleasure, and the teachers who would do this were nothing less than any or all of sadistic, lecherous, useless and idle. Please do not remind me that ‘a quick slap or the cane did me no harm’, because you did not attend or teach at the school I attended.

The school teachers there would hit us with canes, gym shoes and threw the blackboard rubbers, or anything else at hand, at us if they thought we weren't concentrating. They would hurl out mouthfuls of verbal abuse, humiliation and revel in institutionalised bullying behaviour.

I have heard all the hard luck stories of ‘how if teachers were given the freedom to teach, they could take education to new heights’. Unfortunately for some, teachers had this freedom in the sixties and did no such thing. Instead they chose to ritualistically beat, bully and humiliate pupils.

Did it not for one second occur to any of these teachers that some children came from dysfunctional families, where the school had a duty to provide a safe and secure environment for children either at risk or with learning disabilities.

These words I say with the voice of experience, coming from a dysfunctional family, where we were punched, kicked, beaten with a horse whip and slapped across the face with such force I was knocked to the ground. We were subject to continual verbal abuse, which would in some instances continue day after day after day. Then we would attend school, and get more of the same; why, because I was a child with a learning disability.

These events at school were not just one or two teachers. Around two thirds of the staff were well into this anti social behaviour; I would be happy to give credit to the fact that there are some very good teachers, whom I would not paint with the same brush and indeed did not act in this way. They were able to control the class purely by their gravitas, leading by example, and providing an engaging and encouraging environment.
 

pipmk

master brummie
I'm amazed that people say that the threat of caning moderated their behaviour. We had caning,slippering,ear pulling,even the occasional thump to the side of the head but I think we regarded it as an occupational hazard. It was yet another manifestation of the odd world of adults and teachers and as long as you were guilty of whatever infraction then fair enough. I neither think it was a good thing or a bad,if any psychological damage was done it was more likely to the hitter that the hittee. Nobody was going to die and it got the punishment over.
Far worse was lines,detention or a note home.
As for school bully,3 or 4 of us would have a discussion with him,more accurately we committed threatening behaviour, and he would have a change of heart or meet a world of pain. Problem solved.
It may well be that those who felt deterred by caning were those who would not offend anyway. My feeling is that discipline at school is far too late,discipline,moral guidance,just plain consideration for others, call it what you will is learned in the home. We knew we were in the wrong,being lads we worried about consequences later and took our lumps without rancour.
 

Smudger

master brummie
Morturn

you had a pretty hard time of it, both at home & school, but look at the positive side. You abhor violence & i can tell by reading your post that you managed to get a decent education. I never encountered the level of violence that you had to put up with even in army training.
 

maypolebaz

master brummie
There is a need for discipline in schools but I doubt it would work in this day and age, if a child goes home and complains about a teacher the parents are inclined to rush to the school and attack him or her.
We had harsh discipline in the 50s but if the majority of the teachers we had in Highters Heath juniors or Wheelers Lane seniors treated today's kids like they did us, they would be jailed.
 

Old Boy

master brummie
Hi All,

I fuly sympathise with Morturn and understand his abhorence of violence. However what are the facts?

50 years ago there was discipline in schools and by and large children got on with their learning and the British education system was one of the best in the world. Today there is no discipline and a minority of the children run riot spoiling the chances of those who want to learn. By law they cannot even be disciplined at home and you can see the results on Broad Street any Friday or Saturday night. It is a recognised fact that we are way behind in our educational standards compared to other nations.

Old Boy
 

maggs

master brummie
One of my friends teaches at a private school in Cambridge, and that school has very high achievement levels every year. They have an all girls school, and believe this is the correct way. I went to an all girls school and found there was a great deal more concentration in all lessons. Of course we had the punishment needed if we misbehaved and no one complained about that, I suppose we felt we had deserved it if it happened, which wasn't very often. Sadly, I can't see any way back to this sort of regimen though. I suspect there is a lot less discipline at home too, so what chance to teachers have?
 

adap2it

master brummie
Morturn, Yes, there were sadistic teachers that really enjoyed what they were allowed to do. However, given the choice of pro and con corporal punishment, I'm firmly on the pro side. I never received punishment that I didn't deserve and those that behaved themselves...it was a none issue. Teachers that were "soft" were taken advantage of, that was and is the nature of most human beings, especially the young. Some of the "tough" teachers had nicknames, such as "Killer Dean" at Gower St. You did NOT misbehave in his classroom or you would be sorry. It's sad that this was the case, but it was a more effective way than we have now, where learning is an option. The schools had the backing of parents, which was a huge factor in making sure that the students were at school when they were supposed to be and did not waste the enormous amount of tax money needed to fund the education system.

Dave A
 

Spargone

master brummie
A young friend, just started in his new 'big' school, succumbed to peer pressure and carried out a bit of petty shoplifting, (chocolate bars) and that got me thinking about the disciplinary tools used in 1960s Birmingham grammar schools.

We had prefects' detentions, masters' detentions, being 'on report', the cane and ultimately, expulsion.

I had a clean record as regards prefects' detention, a miracle in retrospect, I guess I was just smarter than them! Masters' detentions were something else! One of our teachers decided to have three tests per week and if you didn't get more than 40% you received one detention. Every week I failed two of the tests and got my two detentions. She couldn't understand why I never got less than 95% for the other test. When she was teaching that subject and I caught her eye she would stop and check what she had written on the board because chances were she had made a mistake. Being put 'on report' meant that the offending pupil had to present a report card at each class to be signed off by the teacher. I only remember that happening a couple of times but never for me. I don't think the cane got used more than a couple of times all the time I was there, the news certainly got around the whole school pretty quickly.

I only remember two expulsions. The first involved a lad who had been 'bad' all the time he was at the school, a notorious 'hero'! He was expelled for behaviour outside the school, reportedly for calling a nurse 'of colour' two words beginning with 'B'. The other lad discovered that the wiring for the period bell ran under the floor beneath his desk and he added an extra switch and caused some disruption for a week or so.

Move forward three decades and my nephew's comprehensive had a resident policeman. That suggests to me that his generation didn't have the absolute fear of the headmaster that we had.
 
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