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Did the punishment fit the crime?

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!

Created By on 18/01/2019

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16th Jun 2020 15:43:58 (Last activity: 17th Jun 2020 10:41:25)
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I had a teacher who was welsh and liked rugby. If we did anything wrong we had to write 50 times 'Llanfaitpwllgwyncontosiliogochgoch'. If we could not spell it out after ...we did it again ...another 50 lines. If this spelling is correct at least I learnt something. but yes , its bound to be wrong , and guess what his name was Mr Parry the music teacher this was 60 years ago
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 16th Jun 2020 16:11:20
Nearly right, CasualGrey!! Think you made a typo because it's Llanfair...... not Llanfait - but well done for remembering that spelling. How many times did you have to write it out??? 🙂
Response from Casualgrey made on 16th Jun 2020 17:07:15 > @CaroleAH
Hi, CaroleAH yes it was a typo. I had two or three sessions of writing this. The last time I had to spell it out after writing it. I got it perfectly because the teacher thought he had rubbed it out at the top of the blackboard and as he was looking at me I read it off the board which was behind his back. I could not get out of the classroom quick enough. This is the first time I have spelled it since then.
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 16th Jun 2020 23:15:33
Well, you can't have been very naughty at school if you only had to write it out on two or three occasions. Well done for remembering it after 60 years. My sister visited Llanfair etc on a YHA walking trip and learnt how to say it - she was 8 years older than me and I could only remember the Gogogoch bit 🙂
Response from Casualgrey made on 16th Jun 2020 23:42:06 > @CaroleAH
I think school is a training ground for naughtiness. One gets progressively worse the older you get and I have had a few years to make that transition.
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 17th Jun 2020 10:41:25
Now that's a thought and looking back on my life, you might be right!!! 🙂
7th May 2020 08:48:42
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At junior school: I had the ruler across my hand, in front of the class - my crime was not knowing my 9 times table well enough. On another occasion I was made to stay in at lunchtime and clean out all the ink pots. The water went blue and my hands and wrists went blue. My crime on this occasion was not paying attention to the teacher reading "The Hobbit" by JRR Tolkien. After that,the teacher, Mr Cross, made me sit on the floor by his stinky feet whenever he read the book. His other lessons were so boring that I use to fall asleep behind a reading book.

At secondary school: Chemistry teacher use to throw things at me - they got bigger as the term went on - bit of chalk- bigger bits of chalk - blackboard rubber - finally she threw a Bunsen burner at me which caused me to duck down and it hit the wall taking out a large hole and plaster everywhere. My crime was not looking interested!
15th Apr 2019 09:17:43 (Last activity: 15th Aug 2019 09:04:34)
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RobHaw , your experience must have been at least 65years ago when standards were different, and often a lot higher.
Response from Grainne made on 12th May 2019 10:28:55
ArchieUK: not wanting to contradict but I 'got the belt' at school in Scotland in 1965 - it wasn't banned until 1987 - I do wish you were right though I can't say it did me any good - I still drop thing 🙂
Response from jan19512003 made on 15th Aug 2019 08:44:22
I got "The Belt" only once -(same year as you, year before I left school) for something I didn't do!! 🙁
I remember the teacher used to keep the belt under is jacket over his shoulder to keep it warm! Meant to hurt more 🙂

When I was in residential school, we had to bend over the basin and get smacked on the bottom with a slipper!
Response from jan19512003 made on 15th Aug 2019 09:04:34
I hated primary school. We had to have a shower at school, as our homes had no baths. The mobile shower unit would come one a week.

Also we had to be checked for lice etc, so we were taken - in the classroom of boys and girls - behind a large blackboard where the 'nurse' would look down your knickers!! So embarrassing even at that young age.

A man ran into me at playtime in the playground and broke my leg (I was six), he didn't even stop to see if I was ok. Kids were seen and not heard then. I cried in class and the B**** of a teacher told me to 'Stop sniveling child'. I managed to get through most of the day until the pain became unbearable. I asked to be excused to go to the toilet, but instead, I crawled up the flight of stairs to my sisters class - she had a very nice teacher - I told her what had happened and she immediately told my sister and her friend to carry me home. They couldn't really carry me and a lorry driver stopped to offer his help, my sister refused to get in the lorry (rightly so) but the driver told her I needed to get to the hospital, she agreed to give the driver our address and the driver took me home. My mum screamed as she thought the driver had run me down. Turned out leg was broken in three places - I was mad at that teacher and frightened to go back to school. Fortunately I didn't need to go back as our turn came up on the housing list and we were moved to a new housing estate (Easterhouse, Glasgow)….we had a bath!!! YIPPEE!
16th Apr 2019 07:17:53 (Last activity: 12th May 2019 10:20:19)
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I remember one school I went to that running in the corridor was very much frowned upon, if caught the offender was made to WALK the whole length of the corridor in front of all the other pupils, that was making the punishment fit the crime.
Response from Grainne made on 12th May 2019 10:20:19
I'm new to the board so I feel a bit like I am commenting whilst you have all gone off somwhere else 🙂 but here goes, maybe someone is still about. I too 'got the belt' Rab, I was a plump little 5 year old in pigtails, Miss Anderson was the teacher (odd how we never forget their names) my crime was dropping my lunch! Oddly, no child in our school had dyslexia or attention disorders - I'm just saying .........
15th Apr 2019 07:56:47 (Last activity: 15th Apr 2019 14:18:30)
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I have a vivid recollection of being belted aged 7 by a large fierce some creature called Miss Calder The large " lady pursued me around the classroom eventually grabbing me by the hair and dragging me to the front of the class where I then received three cross handed beltings .The crime ? I had failed to return my milk bottle to the crate in time !
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 15th Apr 2019 14:18:30
Good grief, RabHaw! Miss Calder sounds pretty grim. I hated those bottles of milk - they were always warm or, in the winter, had lumps of ice in them. My twin sister hated them as well and used to drink hers really slowly whereas I used to gulp mine down to get rid of it so she used to swipe my empty bottle and put hers in front of me. I then used to get into bother for being slow! I suppose what goes around comes around though because she has got osteoporosis and I haven't.
15th Apr 2019 09:26:33
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I am very old Archie ! Was over 70 years ago but remember it well ! A school staffed with "bunned " stout elderly spinsters immediately after the War . Not a bad education on reflection but modus operandi questionable !!
CaroleAH Original Poster
23rd Jan 2019 15:14:05
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Sounds a bit like the cat o'nine tails commonly used in the Royal Navy to flog miscreants. Horribly cruel as the sailors sometimes had upwards of 200 lashes as their punishment. Letting the cat out of the bag doesn't have quite the same meaning these days.
CaroleAH Original Poster
22nd Jan 2019 20:02:59
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I don't think it did us much harm but I would hate to think of my daughters or granddaughter receiving the same kind of punishment! Double standards perhaps? I think a lot depended on the kind of mood the teacher was in that day - in the Punishment Book there is reference, on a few occasions, to a child being caned for looking sulky. Perhaps nowadays we would call that dumb insolence! As to whether it was a deterrent, I'm not sure. Judging by the regular appearance of some of the children's names, I don't think so. One boy's mother wrote to the teacher and said that if her son was going to be punished for not singing when he had a sore throat then she would keep him away from school until he was better! I wonder if the little monkey really did have a sore throat - he had also been caught the day before with "all the equipment for smoking" so perhaps smoke inhalation was the real culprit 🙂
21st Jan 2019 17:48:30
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The cane was used when I was at school, not that it seemed to make much difference as the same kids were lined up in assembly every week for public humiliation.

I always thought detention was the harder punishment: spending break times sitting in a class room writing lines while your friends had the freedom of the playground.
20th Jan 2019 08:15:35 (Last activity: 20th Jan 2019 08:55:58)
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A school thatI went to there was a long corridor from end to end and running in the corridor was not allowed, if court running the punishment was, after assembly to have to WALK the lengh of the corridor in fron of all the school and then back to your classroom, where you would get a lecture in fron of class mates on not running. You leaened very quickley to obay the rules.
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 20th Jan 2019 08:55:58
That punishment seems more humane than being whacked with the cane, or a window-pole, although I can imagine the feeling of mortification in having to parade the length of the corridor in front of the whole school.
19th Jan 2019 16:54:43 (Last activity: 19th Jan 2019 18:23:21)
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I remember doing lines,can't remember why. The cane was a deterant but when I moved to Scotland the strap was still used, totally barbaric.However the threat probably helped to maintain a level of discipline that doesn't exist today.
Response from CaroleAH Original Poster made on 19th Jan 2019 18:23:21
I agree, Ecarg. When I was at school I had a healthy respect for my teachers - even feared some of them especially, Mr Ellis, the chap who hit me with the window pole. Today, a lot of pupils treat their teachers with contempt.

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