Our end of the Deal, Part #2 – Teachers
We have got to stop using physical means on our babies and toddlers, because we’re setting them up to fail in school.
We’re moving in the right direction in terms of corporal punishment, specifically, it’s being stopped in the school systems, but that in itself has created a mismatch: if we control our kids physically, then we can’t reasonably expect the teachers to be able to control them by less forceful means.
There may be those who think teachers should be able to use the strap, or the paddle, or whatever instrument they used to use in your part of the world, but there are enough actual parents with kids in school that don’t, so we’re not going there, at least not today. Institutional corporal punishment has been outlawed, or will be in your part of the world soon, because that is how it should be, and that is something the directors of our societies have the authority to do. Corporal punishment in the home though, that is another matter. That apparently, is still a matter of religion, tradition, or just a matter of personal choice (don’t get me started – a “personal choice” as to whether I get to strike another person! Unbelievable), and the government isn’t going to touch it with a ten foot pole. Even in the countries that have outlawed it, I suspect they only prosecute if we’ve killed or nearly killed our kid.
Difficult as it sounds, we have at some point determined that by the age at which children enter the school system, they are presumed to be civilized, able to function in a classroom, and corporal punishment of children in schools has been stopped, so they need to be controllable by less than physical means, they need to be people that can be reasoned with, talked to. That means they aren’t supposed to be some sort of circus animals that only respond to a whip!
This conversation usually goes in the opposite direction, I know. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read that the problem is caused by parents that don’t physically train their children – but that’s not it. That’s what many people might think – but no, the violence and chaos in our world and in our children is not the result of a lack of corporal punishment. It’s actually simpler than that – violence begets violence, violence models violence. When our governments banned corporal punishment in schools, they did it based on good information, study after study after study shows that corporal punishment increases violence and rebellious behaviour in children, and not the other way around, despite what Sister Mary Louise told you in Catholic school.
So spanking and threatening and generally bullying our kids makes them impossible for the teachers to control. Once things have escalated to the physical, the kids can’t be convinced by words; for words to have power, they need to mean something, and when our kids know that we’ll force a point that we’re serious about, they learn that they don’t have to listen, and so they don’t. When we’re serious, they know they can depend on us to make them feel it. That’s what corporal punishment teaches: exactly the opposite of what we hope, it teaches that they never have to listen.
And that is the teachers’ nightmare, every day.
It is not the teachers’ job to civilize our kids, especially after we have spent five years uncivilizing them by force. Every year in the life of a human being is one in which that human being is less easily influenced than the year before, by an order of magnitude, so those first five years are a virtual eternity. Overcoming that, performing that nearly impossible feat, that is not their job.
That is our job. And we’re not holding up our end of the deal.
If we want the school system to function, if we want an environment in which children can learn, then we need to raise our children in such a way that the tools a teacher can legally and morally use to do it are going to work, namely, without any sort of corporal punishment.
Outlawing corporal punishment in schools, while we use that flawed tool in our homes for the critical first several years of their lives is a good first step, but a small one. Really small. Remember “Breaking Bad?”
No half measures.
– here’s part #1: