Spare the rod, pay the price

When I read of the goings on in some UK schools today; with pupil-on-teacher violence, savage bullying and a total disrespect for authority, it horrifies me.

Sure in my day we may have transported the art master’s cycle from the bike sheds to the roof on one occasion, and sent an explicit Valentine’s card to the P.E. master’s house — he was distinctly unhappy about that, but not as unhappy as his wife who happened to open it — but these were just relatively harmless pranks compared to the stuff we hear about today. And remember, those were the days when limited corporal punishment was acceptable in schools, and the cane was a useful and effective deterrent administered in our case, by the deputy head.

The liberal-minded will advocate that corporal punishment was a bad thing and that violence only begets violence. But having been schooled during the ’50s and early part of the 60’s, and seen the results, I say nonsense.

Individual masters were also permitted to mete out their own punishment as and when required and one such was Mr Treweek-Dew an English teacher, who kept ‘Rudolph’ hanging from a chain on the blackboard.

‘Dewey’ was a bear-like man, who paced the school corridors menacingly, With his military-style mustache, and tweed jacket that looked as if the coat hanger had been left in, he was a formidable figure.

‘Rudolph’ was a black plimsoll and was a constant visible reminder to pay very close attention to the pearls of wisdom imparted to us. We often speculated why the shoe was called Rudolph, and the nearest we came to an answer was that Rudolph tended to leave you with a very red extremity.

These realities however held no dread for us and we looked upon them as natural and just, and all part of a happy and balanced school life. As for the teachers themselves, much of it was implied rather than applied, sometimes with tongue in cheek and often with humor.

We knew just how far to take things, and if we exceeded the limits, we accepted the consequences — and all with the full approval of our parents. That being said, I have to reluctantly go along with the PC brigade who dictate that children today should never be physically punished either in school or by their parents.