July 16, 2010

PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT IN SCHOOLS LEADING TO DEATHS AND SUICIDES… ARE WE FIT TO BE TEACHERS?

When I was growing up in one of the better schools of Delhi, it was most common to see teachers slapping students. Scales being broken on our knuckles was as common a sight too, and as early as in class fifth, though luckily I always escaped. When I reached class sixth, I wasn’t that lucky. In one of the sculpture classes, an assistant came around and with his hard hands, slapped me hard on my head, because in all my creative excitement, I was engaged in talking to my friend Partho Saha, who was someone I looked up to when it came to creativity (I still do; and today he heads most of our technology projects at Planman, along with being a Dean at IIPM). I was furious. I wanted to hit back. I controlled myself, but went back home and told my father that he must do something about it. He was from the same school of thought as mine – rather, I had inherited his points of view. So the next day, my father took me to the principal of our school – a legendary name in education those days, R S Lugani – and told him that physical punishment is not what he would allow his son to go through in school.

So after discussions, it was decided that I would from then on carry a letter in my pocket, which mentioned that if any teacher had a problem with me, it could be written down and subsequently sent to my father, but the teachers couldn’t hit me. And the letter bore a stamp of the Principal’s office. I think it was the most unique exception that our principal had ever made. And from thereon, till I passed out of school, no teacher could ever physically hit me! (Incidentally, my grandfather too had obtained a similar letter for my father during his school days, which allowed my father to escape all kinds of physical punishment). However, like I mentioned, this was an exceptional case. The reality was that students were getting beaten up regularly almost by all male teachers and by a third of female teachers. The solace that students used to find was from the one or two good words these rank bad and rude teachers used to tell them. And thus the word used to spread about specific teachers, that they beat students up – mercilessly at that – but had a very kind heart. I found it sickening. So much so that when I got promoted to class eleventh and took up the commerce stream, there was a teacher who was known for keeping hockey sticks in his room and beating students up with them. But again, the word was that he otherwise had a very kind heart!

The truth is that by hitting anyone – especially a child in school – we only display our lack of education. We display the fact that we aren’t fit to be teachers in the first place. Because if we want a world where peace stands a chance, where road rage doesn’t happen and where people are more tolerant and loving towards each other, we have got to show peace, love and tolerance from the very beginning to all our children in schools. We have to see to it that they grow up seeing no violence.

In my sixteen years of experience as a teacher, I can say very confidently that there can be absolutely no reason for which a teacher is required to physically punish a student inside a classroom or in front of others. If a teacher is good, and committed to teaching – and not churning out mechanical morons who mug up topics – he enjoys the process so much that even for students, it becomes akin to recreation. Learning becomes fun and the question of forcing any student doesn’t arise. In fact, in IIPM, when any teacher comes and complains that some particular section of students is uncontrollable and bad, I drop the teacher. Because it’s my firm belief that no, absolutely no student is bad. Those are teachers who are bad, boring and less passionate about changing lives. So they don’t teach well; and students therefore are not attentive. Finally, the teachers blame the students.

It’s not a student’s responsibility to enter a classroom and be attentive and learn. It’s a teacher’s responsibility to make the student feel interested in the class and make him feel that it is a life changing experience. Only then will students attend classes. And if that’s not the case, then in fact students shouldn’t attend classes. So a good teacher never has student problems. Only bad teachers have. And they use physical punishment as a shortcut force to make students attentive. But the human nature unfortunately is such, that physical punishment in childhood never helps. It gives rise to mainly two kinds of people. One, those who get used to it and don’t care and become all the more adamant. And the other, whose personalities get deformed due to the fear of punishment – such students may become more obedient but their personalities are ruined forever.

Therefore, we need serious laws in the country which completely rule out the use of physical punishment in school. A school’s job is to change lives and not to ruin them. Yes, there are kids who come from dysfunctional families, who get beaten up at home and have a nature that is oft en very negative. A teacher’s job is to have the ability to change such a nature. And there are scores of examples where great individual teachers have changed the most hardened of negative souls. That’s what a teacher is about. Yes, if the teacher is not trained well enough to change the students, and the student is a menace, then the teacher can at worst hand the student over to his parents or law enforcers. But a teacher is no police and should have absolutely no legal right to physically hit children. And no parent must allow their children to be hit in school. They must have a great level of communication with their children so that they share freely and tell what’s happening with them in school.

We all must realize that a good teacher is that teacher who believes his job is to make better human beings through the education he imparts – be it literature, history or science. He is that person who believes that his job is to make students believe that the learning inside the class will change their lives and make them better persons. A teacher should be a person who is so passionate about this that he innovates ways to make his classes so interesting that students don’t find it a burden and enjoy the same. Such a teacher is one for whom punishment is not an option at all – the only option is good and passionate teaching. And the only religion for such a teacher is an obsession to make the boy sitting in the front row of the class understand his teachings as well as the boy sitting in the last row of the class – regardless of their intellect, IQ, past interest in the subject or upbringing. That’s what good teaching is about. That’s what creating miracles in the classrooms is about. That’s what I must add IIPM is about.

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35 comments:

minduread.com said...

Extremely well written!

Brings back memories of my childhood spent in a very strict school in the 80's. Also reminds me of a short story my mother had written based on a certain incident at my school. I was lucky enough to have great parents who understood, cared and loved us and encouraged us to be ourselves. Left to the mercy of the teachers god knows how our personalities would have shaped up.

The points that you raise are very valid and myself being a father of two kids now would never want anyone to raise their hands on them for whatever reason. I believe many schools are not using corporal punishment but it still exists in a vast majority of schools.

Hope your message can reach more people and bring about a change in their mentality. A good society needs good people, and good people are a byproduct of good deeds and values imparted by parents and more importantly teachers.

Cheers!!!
Kartik Dayanand

lipi mukherjee said...

Indeed written from heart !!!You write extremely good when it is a touchy subject for the society.
Hope this message does not remain in papers alone but should bring some change in the society. Children are too valuable and should be treated like treasures and the corporal punishment actually is a shame, as we see so much of death and suicides due to it. Pathetic....

GauravJain said...

a fabulous and very compassionate blog. it deals with a very important issue and brings back those dark memories of being at the receiving end of the corporal chastisement when in class 11th, my maths teacher beat me black and blue (i am not exaggerating here!) just because i smirked after asking a question which he took on his ego. but unlike you, i couldn't muster enough courage to approach the principle because that teacher was quite senior n influential and my logic told me that even if i complain its only going to boomerang on me. Whether i told this to my parents or not, i can't recall but the teacher
but thankfully my 'bad' habit of asking questions didn't die and i am proud of it!
i fully agree with your opinion that the teacher are the shapers of the nation n if they use these methods on kids who have highly impressionable minds, they are only jeopardizing the future of the country. may this atrocious methods become history sooner than later. Amen!

GauravJain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vaishnavi said...

arinji u r truly said nowdays teacher hasnot ideal persnalty.they can not inspire to student for good things beceause they themself havenot any principle to teach they teach only for lotof earning mony . it's become horrable then teen age girls bears this kind of event . teacher behave like a discreditable.

sid bhattacharjee said...

Thanks for your wise comments.While, you have addressed the classroom behaviour of teachers, what about home. Increasing double income parents have very little understanding of parenting and create a huge racket if their ward is spanked for problems originating from them. Your views are myopic, biased and misleading. Correction for altering a child's behaviour demands intervention - both non-physical and physical. Like verbal positive strokes elicit positive feelings, the negative ones harbour malice, the same goes for physical. Cant have one as a substitute for the other. In terms of impact , physical ones are temporary, but mental ones become deep seated.

. said...

Actually, it's not the teachers that should be blamed always. There r so many other factors equally responsible for the present scenario viz the education system, environment, changing social values & aboveall the media.

uk said...

Truly said!Teacher who beat students show lack of knowledge and confidence to handle their respective subjects. Just like corrupt officials, they too show arrogance and power by hitting or punishing a child. These teachers try to force rules and dictate their own terms.Violent behavior will put a negative impact on child's mind.

But time's changing,we are getting aware of this horrible practice and condemning it. I hope our HRD minister Kapil Sibal will bring some regulations to counter this menace.

Iftekar said...

The untold story exposed, Once again the great professor exposed the truth.

Sir, Give me the permission to print this article and distribute it to the teachers whom I meet.

Arush kapoor said...

so true...i m still a student and hav recently faced a problem like this.i was studying in the lawrence school sanawar and my senior master slapped me in front of the whole school just because my shorts were a bit long.i am in 11th grade the second seniormost class and being hit at this age did matter and when i spoke to my seniormaster he didnt agree to it even when i had proves to it and then as i complained to authorities he got after me and blamed me for even the things i didnt do and threw me out of school.luckily i was a bright student and got 9.0 cgpa in 10th boards so i got admission easily but the thing is this is not done.i am really happy thAT YOUVE TAKEN initiative to spread thoughts on this topic..thank you very much.-
arush kapoor

manchal said...

i never had a teacher in my life who hasn't hurt students physically or verbally, neither i had a teacher who has attracted attention of me and my fellow students through his creativity and devotion towards teaching. i was always amidst some people who neither had the aptitude for the job neither the acumen to fill this shortcoming of theirs. the world u talk about in your writings which i often go through is mesmerizing but far beyond what i have perceived throughout my teaching-learning experience.

Guru Prasad said...

Hello sir, fabulous article as always. However, when you say that its the teachers responsibility to make a student attentive, i do not fully agree on this. There are always people who come to class for the sake of it, you can never make them attentive no matter how much you try. Pleasure reading the article though. I always believed beating should never be allowed by teachers in the class rooms.

崔佐安崔佐安 said...

想別人怎樣對你,你便怎樣對待別人。.......................................................

muggi said...

Your comment/suggestion that the teacher should ensure that the first and last row students learn equally despite differencesin IQ sounds idealistic but is not practical.In fact the different IQ levels among students is one of the reasons for the teacher to be unpopular since a teacher can never have a pace that is appropriate for all students and invariably the fast learners get bored and the slow learners feel left out.Proper classification of students in important but it is easier said than done. There is one school in Ooty that I have heard about where there is flexibilityfor the student to sit in classes of his choice depending on his level of knowledge. Like for Maths a student can sit with say 4th graders and for English with 6th graders with the ultimate goal of completing with all peers before the end of the course.I however fully agree that no teacher should have the right to abuse any student physically or otherwise too and ensure that the dignity of each student is never sullied.

Mousumi said...

Your article on physical punishment in schools raised many issues as this is one of the most relevant topics in the present. I however take strong exception to your father's action of getting a letter issued by your principal saying that his son should not be beaten up. I believe that children feel traumatised not just when they are themselves beaten but also when they see someone else being beaten up by the teachers. In my daughters' school the boys are regularly beaten up and the sight of it seriously affects them. I brought this to the notice of the secretary of their school's management committee and she told me that although they conduct regular motivational workshops for the teachers but sometimes an action of a child triggers of a reaction in a teacher (maybe because of some problems at home), causing him/her to hit or slap the child. Interestingly, in Allahabad where I live, parents are happy to know that their children are being beaten in school since they feel that they are being disciplined! So none of them complain against the teachers, but instead feel happy that the teachers are so concerned! This mindset is the reason for the perpetuation of the feudal, heirarchic mindset of the people of UP, which is also the reason for the lack of leadership qualities in the people here.
Anyways, do continue to raise such topical issues which can generate debate throughout the country.

Subhashini Sury said...

"It’s not a student’s responsibility to enter a classroom and be attentive and learn."
You are kidding right??

While I agree with you that children shudnt be brutally punished-it doesnt mean they are not taught what is right and wrong.It is the primary responsibility of the student to be attentive, learn and respect elders.How can you possibly deny that!?

In the disguise of giving freedom to youngsters you are only bringing up irresponsible, hopeless brats who are clueless about respect and discipline.

The emphasis here should be on what the school expects from a teacher.Schools are being unreasonable to teachers and instead of helping the teacher they burden him/her hence preventing the teacher to do his/her best. Do note the number of students in a class in any school.It is not less than 40-45.Student-teacher ratio is something that has to be addressed.

I agree that quality of teachers also matter but it is not the only thing.

writechoice said...

Arindam, thanks for bringing up this relevant topic once again. I think if we all keep doing our bit, we can get rid of the menace. About a year ago when an 11-year-old Delhi girl committed suicide, I had written an article about how a simple science like handwriting analysis can be helpful in such cases. I would like you to take a look at the article:

http://www.writechoice.co.in/writechoice/index.php/2009/05/punishment-in-school/

Or this tiny url:

http://tinyurl.com/3y4kjro

Maybe you can suggest how to make more effective the suggestions put forward in the article.

Regards,

Vishwas Heathcliff

jisha said...

very interesting blog... really impressed to read the matter

Abhiraj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Abhiraj said...

GURU GOVIND DONO KHADE, KAKE LAGU PAU.
BALI HARI GURU APNO,GOVIND DIYO MAILYO.
My grandfather had uttered once and taught me the value of teacher stands more than god.
And i feel no fear to post that your editorial exposulates the above sacred lines.I found the whole editorial is all about denigration of teachers and exstoling notorious activities.... GOD punishes when someone gets indulged in Illiticit activities,so does the teacher.Sir,you should inquire from the goverment teachers who receive tons of dirty comments about their family from last benchers.
I am not in partisan wid those teachers who sometime beats up students out of their family problem.
And I wud like to add that your editorial should have even refecleted some responisibilty of students towards teachers which I found lacking.sir,you should try not to advertise about IIPM in the editorial atleast.

lord said...

clubbing an important issue with a college’s advertisement aimed at alluring prospective students, seems an incoherent idea and definitely not in good taste.

read this:

don't advertise this way

Bincy said...

There are children who leave their schools because of the treatment their teachers give them and thus they are left uneducated...this problem mostly persists in the rural areas...The problem has to be tackled very carefully and we have to make sure that these children are not deprived of the education they deserve..
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SONAM said...

This is so true...I had myself been the victim of Physical and verbal abuse at St. John's School. Though i was a rank holder from class UKG to X but still I had to suffer a lot.From class Ist onward everyday I was victim of rude behaviour of teachers. In class 1st our teacher Msr. Suchitra used to insert sharpened pencil in tender hands of children... See more until blood oozed out. also she made the children to stand naked in class till the school got over. In class 2nd we had mrs. Neelima who made to sit on the floor for six months and abuse me calling "Kamini chugal khor". In class 3rd Miss Shivi made me to stand in scorching sun in the ground throughout the day. This continued for five months. In class IV again Mrs. neelima was class teacher she didn't use to check our notebook properly and used to cut marks in exam though we had written the same what we had written in notebook. My mom complained about this to Principal and henceforth I became a regular victim of Physically and verbal abuse. She Used to beat me everday and made me to sit outside the class for one week. She told" If your mother knows to complain about me to principal I also know how to teach the lesson"Later on the group of teachers united and started beating me at evry little thing. Infact one day I was beaten so badly that my hands got swollen and It took almost five days to recover. In class Vth we again had mrs. Shivi as my class teacher and evrday she used to beat me. i don't remember a single day when I wasn't beaten up. Principal also didn't take action instead he favoured teachers. I was slowly falling into depression. I started separating myself from everyone. This brutal behaviour and incidents of vigourously beating continued and finally one day I attempted suicide by consuming lots of sleeping pills in class VIth. But unfortunately I was saved. The other teachers Mrs. Roopam and Mrs. Chanchal always bullied me in the class and used to beat vigourously. Seeing the teacher's behaviour towards me children also started bullying. after all they got a good chance to make fun of rank holder holding a record for never coming into 2nd position. All this was eating me up inside. As a kid I couldn't keep complaining about teachers evryday to my parents. Later on in class XIth all this took a toll on my mental health. I suffered from Major Depressive disorder for which I am
still undergoing treatment. I have developed phobia to studies and school in XIIth at the main career time due to unhumane beahviour of teachers in past. Now I have turned rebellious. I have suffered a lot and I have lost my patience now. The though of killing teachers still comes to my mind. I want them to suffer the pain that I had undergone through. Teachers should undergo psycholigical tests before joining school so that they don't spoil the future of country. I hope that the law is enforced soon so that in future kids don't take toll on mental health.

Madhu said...

Both the articles on Parents and Teachers are very well written. Wish your advice is followed in totallity.
Best of luck and keep writing to enlighten the people.
have been an avid reader of your articles.
Hope to hear from you about your future writings.

Best Wishes,
Mrs. Madhu Garg

Aayushi said...

Was left speechless when i read ur article...very well written indeed.This reminds me of a quote whch goes lyk dis"We fear what our child will be tomorrow,yet we forget that he is someone today."And i believe if all teachers n parents can understand dis den the problem will itself get solved...

Y V Chawla said...

The article keeps pending the issue, 'why teachers resort to physical punishment'. They resort to punishment when their comfort zone (that students should obey) is disturbed.
Human mind is programmed. It essentially seeks comfort of others(relations) behaving on its pattern. It is only when this comfort is disregarded that teachers can see the point.
This comfort is illusory, it can never be actualised.
This understanding alerts the mind , action spontaneously follows.
Y V Chawla
http://www.fundamentalexpressions.com

KyungBivo中如 said...

先為別人的快樂著想,是超人;先為自己的快樂著想,是凡人;使別人不快樂,自己也不快樂的,是笨人。..................................................

Noël Gama said...

Unfortunately, school is not only the first reality show a child is exposed to but has to participate in - in the role of victim, seldom victor.

Ghulam Kundanam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ghulam Kundanam said...

It is a very good article and helps to learn teachers. But, It is very important to think, How Krishana & Sudama will learn in same environment, facility and school?

- Ghulam Kundanam,
Citizen of Azad Hind (In+Pk+Bd)

Iftekar said...

Sir,
The moment I read the news on "Heavy School bags", I rushed to you blog as I know the person - passionate about India. We have to first build great students to build a great Nation. I know, it is you who can do it, so I request you to write another article on heavy bags which students carry to school.

Sir, just read this news:
http://www.deccanchronicle.com/hyderabad/bags-continue-torment-tiny-backs-401

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mohana said...

hey ur article was good but iam not understanding what teachers can do if a child doesn't want to study teacher ke ache hone ke baad bhi u can't blame teachers like that and i think ur just doing advertisement for ur iipm

ARAMBAM DHANESHOR SINGH(A D ) said...

All five fingers are not equal all the time....

Hope this time with your writes up the messages will reach upto the more educated populations dramatically. Really all these comes under the foundation of "quality education" in a society which is very much neccesary for time being in such a situation of knowledge development. And its not like that the teachers are the only fault in ours situation where teaching is the last oftion for those graduates and undergraduates unlike in the country like Findland where everyone's first choice is teaching as a profession. Really its touching and responsible profession in a society as a teacher as they are the one who will feed a new knowledge to an empty mind of our youngsters.But the lack is that quotation of Albert Einstein's "Education is not only feeding facts to the youg mind but making them curosity"

But as of now in my last 19 years as a student and 1 year as a teacher,I meet such a great teachers and really they deserve for this profession even though they were not in the list of national teachers award.But this is society so we need to remind and rennovat again and again with the time and situation.Otherwise,Sir you wrote extremely well. I wish one day I should be in your IIPM campus too.

A.Dhaneshor Singh

Anush said...

can you explain this criticism.

http://www.careers360.com/news/3067-IIPM-Best-only-in-claims

" This blog is managed by The Sunday Indian. We heartily welcome comments on the articles.. However TSI will delete all those comments which are personal in nature and have the usage of unparliamentary language. "