Did the punishment fit the crime?Watch this post
I do some voluntary work at a local primary school listening to the children read.
On a recent visit, the headmistress showed me a Punishment Book dating back to 1902.
The book had been supplied by EJ Arnold & Son for the princely sum of one shilling and sixpence. In the preface to the book, there are some instructions for the teachers about discipline and they make interesting reading! “The most effective agent for maintaining good discipline is the teacher’s own example. Children readily recognize that their teachers are anxious to help them, patient but determined to be obeyed. They notice also such details in their conduct as punctuality, order, neatness, gentle speech and imitate what they see and hear. They observe little defects of conduct more keenly still, and with disastrous effect.” The book records the child’s name, their misdemeanour and their punishment. In 1902 it appears that it was okay for girls to be caned as well as the boys and this did not change until well after WW2. In 1907 two young girls, Elsie and May, were given one stroke of the cane on their hands for talking and copying each other’s work. The punishment did not seem to deter some children as the same names crop up with alarming regularity. Two entries on consecutive days record that one boy was caned twice for fighting and the following day four times for leaving school without permission and being impudent. Being sulky was also a punishable offence! Sometimes the children had to write their own names and reason for punishment in the book. In 1937 one boy wrote that he was being punished for hitting a girl. He wrote, “I hit her as she was passing by me and my hand caught her clothes and they lifted up”. It is amusing to note the excuse of “he fell on my hand” for children caught fighting occurs quite frequently through the years.
Do you remember being punished at school? I still remember being hit on the head with the long window pole, used for opening the high windows in class, because I was looking out of the window at the snow and also having to balance on a bench whilst writing 50 lines for some minor misdemeanour!
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