This week I read a story out of – where else – the USA. It was the story of a girl aged six, who was handcuffed by police after she had thrown a tantrum in school. Apparently the school decided to call in the law when she began tearing things off the wall and throwing books and toys. It is also reported that the principal was struck in the leg with a small shelf.
Whether or not you agree with the school calling the police to deal with a six year-old girl, it does beg the question how should we discipline disruptive children in school.
Listening to talk-back radio this week, listeners and shock-jocks alike were frothing at the mouth at the prospect of bring back corporal punishment – the majority of whom were in favour of a return to the draconian measures.
This was on the back of Pastor Daniel Nalliah saying his new political party, Rise Up Australia would advocate for a change in legislation in order to allow a principal to administer a “paddling” to a badly behaved student.
It’s probably worth noting that Pastor Nalliah is the same guy who blamed the Queensland floods on Kevin Rudd’s stance on Israel, and according to him the deadly Victorian bushfires of 2009 were because the State had decriminalised abortion. So I’m not sure how seriously we should take him. (But I’m guessing – not very!)
Nevertheless, callers to Radio 2GB in Sydney were reminiscing of the “good old days” when children respected their elders, and they were quick to point out that, “It never did us any harm.”
But in fact, I’d argue it has done a fair amount of harm as we now have a generation who believe the best way to get children to listen in school is to threaten them with physical pain. Hitting them with sticks or paddles…
As Chu-ang Tzu said, “Rewards an punishment are the lowest form of education.”
Surely there has to be a better way?
We could start by ensuring school is an inspiring place where kids want to be.
Just a thought.