35. To beat or not to beat

Reporter - to beat or not to beat

Let me tell you this, back in my school days it used to be a perfectly-okay thing for a teacher to beat students. Unlike these days, there was no big fuss over corporal punishment. In fact, parents expected (and requested) the teachers to beat the ‘brats’ and get them straightened. It used to be a part of education, a complete school experience.

It’s just been this 10 or 12 years. This reformation. Banning of corporal punishment from schools. All forms of punishments, physical and mental. I’m a teacher myself now, and yes I am completely against corporal punishment. I too think that it has terrible and indelible effects in a child’s psyche. But sometimes in frustrating moments, I seem to reason that ‘beating the brats’ might be the only way out. I constantly debate with myself, what if the student was inherently wicked and deserved to be slapped on his/her face. I have somehow repressed that urge. Just one slap. I rationalize.

Child psychologists, educationalists and social scientists say corporal punishment is never a way out. It is never a solution. It will only prevent bad behaviors momentarily. When the experts say so, it must be true.

I specifically remember the day I was beaten severely by my Maths teacher when I was in class five. I was a nuisance and naturally, I got the beating.

With a pipe.
With pants stripped down.
In front of the whole class.

I hated the teacher to my guts.

There were other teachers too who would not hesitate a moment to whip you at the slightest digression of classroom manners. Sticks. Slaps. Uth-bas. Chicken. I hated those teachers too. I was a loud mouth, quick to reply and would provoke laughter, sometimes even at the expense of the teachers. They too must have hated me. (Don’t they, teachers, hate students?)

Nevertheless, academically I was way above the average. I never failed any subjects. In fact, I was always one of the strong contenders to get the top rank in the final exams. There were some teachers who appreciated that.

At times, I would plot against the teachers that I hated. “I will see these bastards after I get rid of this school. As soon as I finish my SLC exams, I will gather some boys and corner these bastards in a narrow galli and will avenge them”. I would thus imagine and get thrilled with it.

Thoughts,
they were just some violent thoughts.
Very natural thoughts.
But, only some thoughts.

Psychologists say kids who get beaten in the schools (by teachers or by bullies) turn out to be rebellious, anti-social and violent when they grow up. Those kids are likely to be criminals, they say. Or easily submissive and excessively introvert. But I turned out just fine. I did not murder any teacher. I didn’t wait for them in the dark galli and stabbed them from behind. I am perfectly ‘normal’. I still have some grudge towards few teachers, not because they were awful teachers but because they were simply mindless bullying teachers. Who says one can’t harbour grudge and be perfectly okay about it!

Most of my friends, who had to go through the same ordeal, they too turned out just fine. They didn’t grow up to be losers. They didn’t grow up to be criminals. We didn’t carry guns to the school and spray bullets indiscriminately. In fact, I have never heard any student murdering any teacher or other students in this part of the world.

We don’t beat students anymore. Due to inner conscience or due to compulsion. Due to increased social awareness or due to politicized slogans. The students too are aware of this. They talk about ‘rights’ and interestingly, never about ‘responsibilities’.

Most parents and teachers likewise still believe spanking the kids is our culture. It’s in our blood. My teacher colleagues complain how the students these days are getting difficult to teach; how the students don’t respect the teachers anymore; how the students are the ones to be afraid of. And, how the ‘fee-paying’ parents constantly grumble that the school is too lenient and is not doing enough to tame their brats.

To beat or not to beat.
Things remain to be seen.

[Feature article published in the Reporter Weekly, December, 2012]

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2 thoughts on “35. To beat or not to beat

  1. this is a debatable issue and even the guys who introduced this concept are facing the same challenges. my personal opinion is that to some extent punishment as disciplinary intervention is necessary, only that should not go over the top. it should not be excessive and damaging to the psyche. the examples you have given are what we all went through and were accepted even if it used to be an embarrassment for us to face that for some time. back in my school we had a teacher who beat us the entire class room with a strong stick and not on our hands and legs but he straight away hit us on the chests, and that because the entire class could not spell pomegranate. we were in class two then. and i had to undergo for medical check up after that hits on my chest. and now this is bad. at one time he hit one of our classmates on his fingernails with the wooden ruler – ten sharp raps – the boy’s fingernail turned blue and had to be surgically removed. and this boy though a bright one did not have neat handwriting and on that particular day he got the raps because of that. this boy, i am sad to say, never again bothered to work on his handwriting and studies. till the time we passed out SLC, he just became an average student. all because of this incident. this teacher had to be eventually fired because of his constant rapping of the students in such a disturbing manner over issues that could have been addressed in a less harmful way. but like you have pointed out Umesh, you do get frustrated and would want to perhaps slap and hit the student who is a utter nuisance but how do you want to do that and the approach you use other than beating the shit out of them makes a difference. after all there is a saying “laato ke boot baton se nahi maante” but does that mean you really have to kick the lights out of the bhoot?

    • Thank you Pranika for the comment. The example you mentioned about the boy who never cared doing better because of the stupid teacher is a sad and pervasive incidents in most of the schools. There in lies this dilemma. As a teacher, there’s no excuse for beating up the students but at the same time, some students are inherently evil and, some parents demand beating up. tapai haru le taha lagaunai sakena mero chora lai, as if we are the ones who have to bear the whole responsibility, just because they pay the fees. khoi ke garne ke garne 🙂

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