I was just about done with the corporal punishment debate when I got the kind of jolt one gets when, while munching on a mouthful of delicious curry and roti, one crunches down on a grain of sand in the mix. The source of my shock was caused by the remarks of our Minister of Education, Dr Robert Roopnaraine in a Kaieteur News article on December 3, entitled ‘Govt will eradicate corporal punishment…’ While I do admire Dr Roopnaraine’s efforts in repairing an education system damaged by the long inept rule of the previous regime, I’m at odds with him on this one.
The Minister’s argument for doing away with this tried and true method was “beating children is a medieval practice…” That’s it? That’s the best argument he could come up with to do away with a method of discipline that has proven to be effective? If this practice is so medieval why do Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Tennessee, Wyoming, Indiana, Idaho, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kansas and Kentucky still have it in their schools? Are these the backward states of the advanced and progressive United States of America? Or is there another unspoken reason for banning CP in Guyana. In some circles, it is believed that it is part of the agenda of the United Nations to have corporal punishment banished altogether in nations around the world. Third World countries are pressured into doing just that. The propaganda floated initially was that CP psychologically damages children. I’m not sure what proof was provided of this but the so-called “greatest generation” grew up on corporal punishment. So poof goes that theory. The second propaganda trotted out by the UN was that CP was barbaric and archaic which, incidentally, is the one latched on to by the minister.
I fully support the position of GTU’s president Mr Mark Lyte who stated that, until a practical alternative is found, CP should remain in schools. It is simply common sense. One only has to google school related topics in states like New York which have banned CP and see the variety of madness that passes for public school conduct. Note the battalion of law enforcement parked at public schools. Is that the direction in which the good minister is pointing us?
I once attended an evening class in NY with public school teachers of New York City. Most of them were lamenting the atrocious behaviour of students in the classroom. At the time I was teaching at a private school there and had just migrated from my homeland. Most of the teachers felt they were mere bouncers instead of teachers in their classrooms. One bespectacled lady announced that when she was growing up she heard that in some countries students were so disciplined that they stood when the teacher entered the classroom. I was amazed that she spoke of this as though it was behaviour exhibited in a perfect society that had long passed away. I wondered if she knew that, just a few years before, that was exactly the kind of school environment in which I had taught in my home country. I knew then that what we have was far superior to what they had in NYC in terms of discipline. And this is what some are advocating we move away from to embrace that which has proven to be a failure?
I would be in favour of abandoning CP if a viable alternative is found.
So far, such an alternative has been elusive.