Was caning of pupils by teachers good or bad? Here is what I think.

I have been teaching for more than 13 years. If I add the years that I spent in school as a pupil, that's really a lot of time. The changes that I have witnessed in the education sector over those years have had me saying "Hallelujah" sometimes and "No way, this can't be happening" at other times. Just like with all things in life, there are positive and negative changes going on in this field.
The problem is that changes do not always bring the expected results.  
The example I am going to use here is something that most people will not be able to relate to, especially the young people and those who grew up in the western world. Can you imagine that in the 90s school children were still being caned in some parts of the world. Imagine a 20 year old man (a 20 year old person can't be a child, right) being caned for making noise, being late for lessons or not wearing a complete school uniform. Sounds crazy, right? Let me assure you that this is a true story. I was an unwilling witness. You can imagine how happy I was when I heard that caning or so-called corporal punishment was being banned in most countries, including my native country. 
This meant the end of torture for most school children. School was now a place where children could go and learn and socialise without fear. And that's what school life should be like. Children would be able  learn at their own pace without being punished every single day. Probably most children will start enjoying school again, I thought. This was a positive change, right?
But then again, my mum told me that when something is too good to be true, most probably it isn't. At least, I remember her saying something like that. Now let's go back in time to those days when teachers were allowed to cane children. When the teacher said something, you just had to do it because you knew what the consequence was going to be. Unless you were one of those few people with a tough skin, if you know what I mean. :-)
Teachers didn't have to shout. Not like these days, where teachers often have to go on leave because of problems with their voices from all the shouting. There were even times when assembly for my whole school of hundreds of boys was conducted by another pupil. (So-called prefect). I tell you, you could hear a feather dropping to the ground. 
We all new the consequences of our actions, so we behaved accordingly. We all did our homework everyday, except for those tough guys that I mentioned earlier. We did it, not because we wanted to or loved learning, but because we had to. The consequences were clear enough for each and everyone of us to see. 
Even the parents were different those days. There was so much respect for teachers then, that parents rarely challenged the teachers' words. The teacher was always right. Or may be that's because where I come from education was the only hope. It was the only way that we could escape from the force of gravity that we knew would keep pulling us back towards the environment that we were born in. And we all wanted a better life. Education was the key to a brighter future
However, these days, in that same environment things have changed completely. There is no discipline, respect for teachers or education or even for parents. Children are free to do what they want. I think it's something to do with human rights. :-) 
On the other hand, most of my age-mates are graduates. Most of them are living their dream lives. Is it because they were forced to learn or they were just lucky? I don't know. Am I saying that caning children was a good thing? Of course, I am not. But you have to admit that caning produced tangible results.
The moral?
Now, all my stories must have a moral. And this one is no exception. To cut a long story short, the point I would like to drive back home is that not all changes bring the desired results. The effects of changes can be both good or bad. Judging from the kind of behaviour problems we are having with children these days, I would say it's difficult to tell whether the abolition of corporal punishment was a good or bad thing. But then again, I am a teacher and I should be against this kind of punishment.
What do you think? May be you have a solution for the behaviour problems that we are experiencing all over the world. Please leave a comment below.
Thu, 18 Oct 2012