Corporal punishment should not be lightly discarded
Stabroek News
February 4, 2002

Dear Editor,

It would seem that my having dipped my big toe in the tepid waters of the lively debate on "whither corporal punishment" in primary school and any school for that matter and having plunked in my two-pennies worth, I have let fly open an ultra-busy nest of ants a-biting/or is it a full can of worms all a-crawling.

Whatever the scenario of the response, it has been most stimulating and I must commend your paper for your democratic ventilating of same, as you have also given rein to the barrage of easy-riders, on whether or not Mr Hoyte is doing well enough with his PNC opposition party as well as the barrage of comments -anti about same, consequent on my intervention when a certain bruised-ego gent once again erupted in print.

At this time I comment, however, on the education debate. I have noted that some persons have chosen merely to highlight the aberrations to the issue; drawing attention to the mal-administration of the 'cane and the strap' that did indeed occur when some over-zealous and perhaps sadistic (we were too young, then, to be privy to psychology) teachers who blithely prided themselves on their wanted prowess with the punishment instrument, figuring that they ruled our roost, would `pamposet' and `parade their ignorance', as we students, acidly observant, as kids usually are in these circumstances, would comment-label them.

Not only did we know when some teachers behaved `unconscionably'; but the authorities, the then itinerant inspectors of school, also became aware; and that is why, ages ago, corporal punishment was removed from the province of just any teacher and by official edict, assigned to a few designated teachers considered responsible-enough in judgement.

That is as I knew it, and as it was later practised, in both the primary school I once taught at (St Georges, under PA Armstrong, who later became one of my financial mentors to higher education) and at Tutorial High, where, at the Fifth Street School I, young as I was, was designated senior master and one of those to whom recalcitrants were sent for "discipline".

Indeed, as time went on, this was not to be a daily exercise, as students soon became aware that it was wiser to concentrate on the Latin and English Literature that I strove to guide them through the labyrinths of, than to waste my energies on any flogging exercise. I pity and commiserate with that writer who penned "as I write I can see the flogging all again and hear the agony of those being punished". I was not so traumatised. He must have been subjected for a time to one of those sadistic types I earlier mentioned but must know; (1) that this deviation from the norm was since corrected and; (2) those of us, more wise to what obtained, knew that "agony" expressed, was often merely a "put-on" most of the time, and that "padded bottoms" and other means were devised, when it was clear that "disciplinary punishment" was going to be the order of the day when one was "found out".

The main point I made in my first intervention (June 3, 2001) and I again state was that we must not engage in the folly, often mistaken for innovation, of reinventing the wheel in every issue facing us.

The administrators of our youths education who have, over time, tinkered with it, so often that now illiteracy, on a massive scale, is our lot, what with the majority of our children being so affected and the "degeh-degeh" university that we now have, passes out a legion who cannot, unfortunately and often times traumatically so for them, compare with what used to be turned out at primary school levels in days of yore. Again, I urge, let caution and research and proper investigation and analyses be our guides and taking cognisance of the pennings in your paper on the issue, both pros and cons.

Yours faithfully,

Lorri "the uniflogger" Alexander