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Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008 at 12:22 AM
Paul b 

I attended school in the 60s, in primary school I only witnessed
four canings, but at secondary school CP was a regular occurence.
The cane was used by the Headmaster and deputy and one or two teachers.
The slipper or pump was the choice of the vast majority of classroom
teachers, not forgetting the PE master's.
I was slippered at twelve for talking in class, there were instances where
boys were just told off for talking, so I thought it unfair.
The second time I was slippered was when I was fourteen, this time for
getting caught eating a sweet, he had the cheek to confiscate the sweets
and slipper me. There again some boys were just lectured for getting caught
with a sweet in their mouth.
We all had to wear pumps inside the school to prevent marking the floor, one boy was slippered for forgetting his pumps, I was caught by the same
teacher without my pumps on, just before assembly, I thought hear we go but
to my amazement I only received a lecture.
CP was dished out so inconsistently I feel it was the mood of the teacher.
Some got real pleasure from inflicting pain and nothing will convince me
If a teacher decided to whack you it wasn't open to disdussion or debate,
you had to accept it, you had no choice. You had to stay bent over until
told to stand up, only once did I see a boy jump up after the first whack
of the slipper and wouldn't bend over again, he cried and pleaded, in the
end the teacher let him off.
After that I really despised that boy, because we all felt like doing that.

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Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 2:46 AM 

A most excellent post Paul, thank you, and one which absolutely encapsulates the way CP was used as a control mechanism in schools in those days. It was inconsistent and unfair because that way it had the greatest impact!

If it had been consistent and fair we would have been able to predict the outcome of our actions, and those who, like me, were by nature compliant and well behaved, would have been able to relax knowing they would never get punished. As it was, I never had that certainty in my school days which spanned the 1940s and 1950s, and nor did you several years later.

If we had been able to relax we might not have worked as hard, we might have let our behaviour standards slip just a little bit, and classes would have been harder to control. In my Infant and Junior schools classes were consistently over 50 children, and I bet numbers were still pretty high by modern standards in your day. Teachers would never have been able to control those numbers and educate effectively without every child having a high incentive to sit still, listen, and do what they were told because of the fear of consequences if they didn't and just possibly even if they did!

It worked though. Virtually no children in my day left Junior school at 11 unable to read, write and do the required level of maths, and I bet there weren't very many in your day either, although society generally had relaxed a little by then. Now, even with much smaller classes throughout their schooling, lots of children get to 16, let alone 11, still lacking those vital skills.

As regards some teachers enjoying inflicting pain, yes some of them certainly did. Not very many, at least not in my day, but the odd one certainly got a kick from having the power to deal out pain and humiliation and from doing so. They were very clever and selective in how they did it, but as I've documented elsewhere in this estimable Forum I'm convinced that I'm here because of one such male teacher punishing a girl in front of a mixed class in Junior school.

Why did we accept corporal punishment? You couldn't have put it better, "it wasn't open to discussion or debate" sums it up exactly! If we had argued or resisted we knew we'd get worse, not only at school, but in my day certainly at home as well. Then a parent was quite likely to give you an additional dose if you went home and said you'd been punished at school, so you kept quiet about it. Now parents would call the police or go and assult the teacher, or possibly both!

ink-lined plane

never saw consistent punishment

August 1 2008, 3:05 AM 

To be honest, I'd be amazed at examples of school CP that was consistent. All the types of punishment I witnessed depended on loads of factors. Mood of the teacher was one. General behaviour of the class was more important again (did an example need to be set?). Of course, the biggie was a head-teacher or staff-room decision to promote some discipline agenda for the next few days, like litter on the playground.

I never had what I would call a true sadist as a teacher. In the first year in secondary school (single sex- no more details), some of the teachers made a point of picking on some of the royal pains, but no classroom CP was used, just stress positions at the worst. Some teachers would make a point on picking on seemingly 'lazy' kids who otherwise were completely inoffensive types.

My secondary school could use the cane for punishments by the headmaster, but never had any confirmation of such methods being used during my time. One notable occasion though, the head made a point of telling everyone in assembly that his cane was the penalty for cheating in exams.

At primary level (mixed junior and infants), CP was ad hoc. It wasn't a case of breaking fixed rules so much, but one of choosing to be very naughty. Most of the time kids were hit as a minimal act of keeping order through awareness of authority, and fear of disobeying. This meant that there were plenty of times that kids could get away with murder.

Because this wasn't a prep school, the kids tended to be gone, before they reached an age where deviant teachers would tend to start think about spanking for pleasure. Spanking for satisfaction, and to relieve frustrations, probably formed the bulk of deviant motivations.

I always felt that a school with lots of formal rules, and lots of formal CP, would have been the most psychologically abusive environment possible for children. Therefore, to my mind, those that experienced 'consistent' CP probably had a much worse life experience than those that did not. Who wants school to resemble prison? At least when CP is not consistent, there are large periods, even with the worst teachers, where the kids feel reasonably safe. Highly regimented regimes are no fun whatsoever for most normal people.

Of course, I will not deny that we do not all resent capricious punishment. I myself was once hit by a non-teaching member of staff for no actual offence, and highly resented it for ages. However, in adult life, I am aware of just how bad some schools were during that period. Tales of primary schools using the strap in the classroom boggle my mind. That, of course, is because I was raised in a part of the UK that would have hung teaching staff that attempted to implement such abuse of young kids, and thus the cultural idea of beating primary school kids is as culturally alien to me as female circumcision.

Not far from where I lived was a highly regimented secondary school of a type that could be considered similar to my own. When I was attending, the pupils of that school might as well have been living 30 years earlier. Indeed, that school only changed when people associated with mine took over its running. My point? The people living maybe less than 30 mins away belonged to a completely different cultural background, and were happy for their sons to continue to experience hell. And i'm not talking about differences in class or so-called 'race'.

Spanking schools (or whatever CP) were spanking schools. Regimented schools likewise. Humane schools that would almost never touch the kids likewise. Each school regime completely arbitrary, and each head insisting that there method was the only one that really worked.

When you listen to the stories from mixed secondary schools that used CP, it always becomes apparent that many teachers were genius at finding excuses to satisfy their cravings. I recall the press report of the welsh secondary, where the RE teacher spanked the girls on their bottom with a slipper (and I think with raised skirts) for failing to get full marks in his little tests. And I would point out, for the benefit of the ex-public-school boys here that pose as female critics of the truth about CP in other types of schools, that this report reflected parental unhappiness, and not any kind of court action.

In a slippering secondary school (which was massively commonplace across much of England and Wales during the 60's and 70's), most schoolgirls attending could be expected to get whacked at some point, and more of these punishments would have been given by male teachers, since the punishment was largely considered an informal classroom one, and rarely recorded.

Of course, such mixed slippering schools were always of a lower class in their area, and hence had kids far less likely to speak out, or think their ordeal one that anybody would care to hear about. The girls themselves were more than aware of the chaos that frequently ruled, and hence already accepted somewhat unpleasant methods of classroom control.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 11:21 AM 

"In a slippering secondary school . . . most schoolgirls attending could be expected to get whacked at some point" says ink-lined plane.

Now, you'll have to excuse me while I sew my sides back together. Unfortunately, they've just split wide-open while I was laughing at the utter absurdity of that claim.

Once again, I ask all members who went to school with girls to cast their minds back and remember how many of those girls found themselves in any kind of real trouble during those years.

If they're honest, I'm sure most members will recall that only a small fraction of girls ever found themselves in anything resembling 'hot water'.

To suggest that most of girls at slipper-using English/Welsh secondary schools received CP is simply insane.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 4:22 PM 

No, I totally refuse to do it twice in one year!


Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 6:41 PM 

I agree with all you lot above apart from one Lot, Lotta.
I swear that every girl in my Sec Mod school got the slipper at least once. I know every single girl in my ex's convent school got caned at least once. All circa 62/67.
Just because Lotta was not there does not mean it did not happen.
Now we all have the courtesy to give info to Lotta. How about a bit in reteurn? Such as type of school, rough area geographically and period time wise that Lotta attended. Then we may find out what Lottas negativity is all about.
D'ont hold your breath.

Lotta Nonsense

Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 8:05 PM 

If recent postings are anything to go by, this forum's fantasy merchants will soon be demanding that all history teachers and history lecturers be dismissed and charged with fraud on the grounds that they weren't on the scene to witness the events they're claiming to know about.

If we're going to argue, can we at least argue intelligently?


Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 10:15 PM 

Lotta where is your evidence to the contrary.
Why don't you just have the curtesy to answer ny reasonable request above?
Why do you ask for reasonable arguement when you cannot back up your own stance with fact?
I know what I saw and experienced, why would I enlarge the truth? There would be nothing for me to gain.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 1 2008, 10:48 PM 

Mimi and Lotta, I don't want to ruffle any feathers, I'm trying to avoid upsetting people - for a few days anyway!

Is it possible though that you are talking about different things? Mimi, I take it from your postings, Irish nationality, Irish residence, that you were educated in the ROI. Lotta, I've no real clues where you were educated and where you draw your experience from, but I'd guess it is England.

I think that the CP experience of girls in Scotland for the sort of period we are likely to be talking aboutwas somewhat different from that of girls in England. Is there a possibility that the ROI, like Scotland a country with a deeply ingrained religious tradition, also had a more rigorous CP regime embracing both sexes, as against the English situation where girls certainly received less CP than boys?

Again, apologies for butting in, but I don't like to see two Forum members for whom I have considerable respect tearing each other apart.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 2 2008, 1:00 AM 

A L I am Anglo Irish, I was educated and worked I England for over 52 years. I love England and all that it stood for.
I however discovered my Irish side and I feel more comfortable here. Its like England used to be.
As for Lotta I can only relate the following about myself.
I have fished for Salmon for 40 years I have never caught one, therefore they do not exist.
I enjoy shooting, I have never shot anyone, therefor no one has ever been shot.
I have only flown Prop aeroplanes, therefore jet aeroplanes do not exist.
I have never been a civil servant therefore they do not exist.
I was not alive in the 2nd W WW therefore it did not exist.
I could go on.
Lotta would say " I never saw CP, I never got CP therfore it does not exist ".
Closed minds like Lottas put inocent people in prison.


Bob T

Re: Inconsistent School CP

August 2 2008, 1:42 AM 

In Lotta's defense, I only saw 2 girls get into any kind of trouble during my elementary school years. Girls were subject to CP but they were too well behaved. I find it hard to believe that girls in England or Scotland would be that different.

In high school I would say some girls were more likely to get into trouble.

Paul b

Inconsistent School CP

August 2 2008, 2:21 AM 

I think you are spot on A-L when you say being well behaved
didn't necessarily mean you weren't going to be punished.
I'm not proud to say I was anything but well behaved, but
at school I towed the line as much as possible, only because
of school CP.
I've only first hand knowledge of school in the 60s but in
that period of time society dramatically changed, but not
the school regime, rules or discipline.
This moved very slowly and it did cause problems with pupils.
My wife was mostly a well behaved girl but was slippered once,
by the Deputy Headmistress, she told me boys were sometimes
punished in the classroom but girls were always slippered in
private, this was a mixed secondary school.
Today some of the classroom behaviour is appalling, in the 60s
it was the pupils who were on the receiving end, today it's
the teachers, in a way it's done a complete circle.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 25 2012, 11:34 PM 

I would have thought that inconsistency in the application of CP would have prompted many pupils in the 60s and 70s to refuse to submit to it - and even to make formal complaints to the authorities.Many parents would also have taken a dim view of their own kids being 'picked on' by a particular teacher.Administering punishment on the basis of 'mood on a particular day' made a teacher highly vulnerable to charges of favouratism and victimisation.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 26 2012, 3:17 PM 

I full agree. CP has to be not only fair but seen to be fair. You cannot cane a boy on a Monday for some offence and then on Tuesday another boy commits the same offence and is not caned. Pupils and parents tend to see things in black and white with no grey areas. It is either a caning offence or it is not. The fact the boy has not been in trouble before has nothing to do with it. If it is an offence that has been punished with the cane in the past then it has to be so this time. If the norm is six strokes for a certain offence then it has to be six not two or three. If you want respect and use corporal punishment it must be seen to be done fairly and without favour. It can not only cause trouble for the teacher if it is not but for the boy as well.
As I said, it not only has to be fair but seen to be fair. May I give you a few examples.

For about three months at my private school, the governors for some reason decided that the cane should be used across trousers and pants rather than the bare bottom which had been the norm in the past. This change of policy caused many problems and complaints from parents, so many in fact that the governors gave me written instrucfions that in future all canings will be on the bare buttocks. Nobody then complained about their son having to take his trouseres and pants down to be caned, as it was regarded as being fair for all. Over clothing, if the boy knew he was going to be caned, some would wear more than one pair of pants so as to reduce the sting. With thick tweed trousers is was impossible to detect the outline of any extra pants and as they were high waisted trousers, even pulling the shirt and vest partly up the back would not reveal (if the boy had been careful) the top of any extra pants. Boys complained amoung themselves that they had taken six stingers but Fred hardly felt it as he had extra pants on. Parents complained that a caning had not hurt much because he had worn extra pants and they (the parents) had caned him again at home when they found out. On the other hand some complained that their son had been painfully caned because he had taken it correctly over just thin pants while others hardly felt it due to extra pants. During the war years at my state school, we had the sanme kind of problewm. Some boys, due to clothing being short had the seat of their trousers patched with thin leather. When bending over, it hardly mattered how hard you caned them it would not hurt, unmlike some boys who had no pants under their trousers and the seat was so thin that you could see their bottom. It was almost like caning the bare bottom. Everybody would complain that this would not be fair, but nobody objected if all boys had to take it on their bare bottom....at leaat it was fair for all.

As I said cp has to be seen to be fair. That does give some scope to the caner. During the war boys were not allowed on the allotments without an adult. This was to stop theft of food...often encouraged by parents. They dare not steal food but it did not look so bad if their son did it. After all they could deny that they had told him. The punishment for being caught without an aDULT, regardless OF Any theft, was six heftly strokes of the cane across the bare bottom. One Monday five boys were reported to me for being on the allotments without an adult. Four had clearly gone to the allotment to get some food...by stealing. The fifth boy, who was an honest lad, had never been in any kind of trouble before. he had been told to get something from the shop for his mother and as the shop was soon to close decided to take a short cut across the allotment.It was a foolish thing to do, but if he had not done so the shop may have closed and they would have been without food. The rule clearly stated that any boy found on the allotment without an adult would get six on the bare bottom. The other four clearly deserved the standard six swishing strokes which, amid tears, were administered. The fifth boy, in my view did not deserve to be caned, but had no choice but to make him bare his bottom and bend over. To the other four who watched it looked as if he was caned just as hard as them. The only thing was that I masde sure the tip of the cane did not land on his bottom. It was more the middle part of the cane that landed, which did not sting so much. Also just as it was about to land I released my grip slightly, thuis also reduces the sting. It still hurt and he did cry, as well as having six red lines across his bottom. The differance being that not only did each stroke not hurt nearly as much but after about an hour he would not feel it at all, where as the others would have smarting bottoms for several hours and would feel it when they sat down for a couple of days. Some may feel I should have let the fifth boy off or given less. Had I done so, parents would have complained....not only from the parents of the boys concerned. The boy himself would have been teased and his life made a misery by being called names. Above all the punishments would not have been looked upon as fair and my role as being impartial would have been damaged.

The last case I will recall was at my private school not long before I retired but my retirement had nothing do do with this case. A movement led by STOPP was starting to aggitate against corporal punishment and urged parents that did not agree with it to write to the head telling him they did not want their son caned. At a parents meeting this issue was raised and backed by the governors I clearly stated, and later sent out a letter to all parents, that boys who broke the rules would be caned and their would be no exceptions. Two boys a few weeks later were caught on the school roof trying to retrieve balls. This was an offence punishable with four strokes of the cane. The first boy, when told pulled his trousers and pants down and bent over the chair, and took his four strokes in front of the other boy without complaint. When the second boy (aged 12) was told to bare his bottom and bend over he refused and said his parents had told hinm he could not be caned. I tried to firce the issue but he ran outside to his mother as it was hometime. She stormed into the school and confronted me. She demanded he be given a detention in place of the cane. I refused and said that if they did not want him caned the only alternative was that he be expelled. She could think about it until the next day and he need not come to school. He could come in and report to my study close of school at 4.15 where he would get four of the cane, or if he did not turn up he was expelled.

Somehow this spread around the parents and their was a great deal of interest to see if I woukd keep my word and if he would turn up.A lot more parents decided to collect their sons the next day and waited around talking, clearly to see what would happen. The mother of the boy took him to my study the next day. A short and sharp conversation took place and she left telling him she be waiting outside. It may have been wrong but I wanted these parents who were waiting to see and hear justice done. I had no curtains to the window but opened it slighly with the intention that they could hear the THWACK of the cane across his bottom. He took his trousers and pants down and bent over. i lifted his shirt to expose his bottom which was now facing the open window. I could see several parents looking in, but of course pretending not to do so. He got the four across his bottom and left crying and clasping his bottom. A lot of parents shouted out at the other mother
"he got what he deserved"
"why should be be let off. A good caning does them good when they are naughty"

I got a lot of support.

As I said yiu not only have to be fair but seen to be fair. Most parents I heard talking about it for a few days all said that they were loud that they either heard or saw the caning so they knew he got it just like all the other boys.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 27 2012, 5:11 PM 

Hi George

CP has to be not only fair but seen to be fair.

I fully agree, it's something I said many times. In fact, I'd go further: being seen to be fair is more important that actually being fair because it's what's perceive that determines the reaction.

Not everyone agrees however. If two children, with identical antecedence, commit exactly the same offence with identical culpability, some would see nothing wrong with caning one severely and giving the other some token "punishment" such as a "telling off". Even where one is a first timer and the other a serial offender, they would happily cane the first timer and let the serial offender off with yet another "telling off". Some schools even had stated policies of doing just that!

It is either a caning offence or it is not. The fact the boy has not been in trouble before has nothing to do with it. If it is an offence that has been punished with the cane in the past then it has to be so this time.

I disagree with that. In my opinion, antecedence is relevant. It's not unfair to go easier on a first time offender providing you're consistent. The problem is inconsistency, not graduated punishments.

If you want respect and use corporal punishment it must be seen to be done fairly and without favour. It can not only cause trouble for the teacher if it is not but for the boy as well.

Again I agree but presumably some teachers didn't want to earn respect. On the contrary, they would go out of their way to be seen to be unfair. As you say, it could cause trouble for the child and I can't help feeling that causing divisions was the intention - "divide and conquer."

I can't give examples from my own school, because we were all treated fairly, but friends who attended other schools have told of some of the unfairness they encountered. A common example, I'd heard many times, is one where a group of children were caught smoking but, although it was the first time for each of them, some were caned and the others let off.



December 28 2012, 10:08 AM 

This is a fascinating thread. I have to agree that the tariff as set by the teacher administering the punishment was always open to external factors: his mood, whether or not he liked the person concerned, how often the boy or girl had been before him, if he was making an example to settle down an unruly class, if he was in a temper - a whole host of things. I down own a photo copy of a complete punishment book (about 60 pages) covering the 50's/60's and it is interesting to note within it how the headmaster's caning philosophy changed over time. Yes, it was the same headmaster, and in the beginning only one or two strokes were awarded, where as as the years wore on the same offences were getting three, four or six strokes. I suppose his optimistic outlook had diminished by this time and he was more accustomed to the cane as a tool of discipline


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 28 2012, 12:45 PM 

'A common example, I'd heard many times, is one where a group of children were caught smoking but, although it was the first time for each of them, some were caned and the others let off.'

I am surprised to hear that pupils submitted to it under those circumstances.Smoking did not normally occur until - say - the age of 15 or so, and boys of that age could have physically stood their ground against a master trying to pick on them.Indeed quite a few would have resorted to awarding him a black eye or bloody nose - both of which would have been well deserved.
I would also have thought that such incidents would have opened the way to formal proceedings via the LEA or school authorities.



December 28 2012, 5:18 PM 

I disagree with that. In my opinion, antecedence is relevant. It's not unfair to go easier on a first time offender providing you're consistent. The problem is inconsistency, not graduated punishments.

I do not agree with the point you are making. As I said their vwere "tricks of the trade" that could be used in certain circumstances, so while appearing the same to those that may be watching, it was not so painful for the boy on the receiving end.

I do agree, it was very tempting to spare a first timer, certainly if he was normally a well behaved lad. I can tell you many times I wished I could have spared him the cane, certainly whenbn he is bending over showing his bare bottom waiting to have it caned. The danger is to think of the narrow view, just of the boy in question. As a head I had to think of the picture as a whole. If you let him off, then it sets precident for all first timers to be let off. This would soon lead to a breakdown in school discipline. Every boy being sent to me for the cane would expect to be let off the first time and may encourage some to take advantage of this situation, edged on by others. To do it on an individual basis encourages shouts of unfairness and favouritism. You cannot have a rule for one and a rule for another. For example the punishment for smoking may be four strokes, but just because that boy has not done it before is no reason to spare him the cane. However, if another boy is with him, or sent to me later it is fair to tell the boy that as a ruke it is four strokes but as this is a repeated offence it will be six. He mat gasp at the thought of getting six but he will except it and bend over, knowing their vis good reason for him to get more than the normal four.

If its a caning offence, then regardless of circumstances, he has to be caned. What has to be kept in mind is if thge rule for smoking is four strokes then the boy who haS NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE BEFORE WILL EXPECT TO GET FOUR STROKES. THE OTHER BOYS IN THE SCHOOL WILL EXPECT HIM TO GET FOUR STROKES. HIS PARENTS AND OTHER Prents will expect him to get four strokes. Parents were quick to complain, if for no clear reason, their little Fred got more than Charlie.

This is where the wider picture has to be looked at and not feel sorry for the lad bending over waiting to get caned for the first time.



December 28 2012, 5:38 PM 

Again I agree but presumably some teachers didn't want to earn respect. On the contrary, they would go out of their way to be seen to be unfair. As you say, it could cause trouble for the child and I can't help feeling that causing divisions was the intention - "divide and conquer."

Again I am sorry but cannot agree with your statement. I do not think teachers went out of their way to be unfair but crept in due to their personal feelings. A boy that is always playing around in class, will tend to annoy a teacher more than one that hardly causes trouble. The big offender can expect the teacher to crack the slipper very hard across his bottom or sent him to the head. The other boy may just be warned or get no more than what amounts to a tap with the slipper.

Please do not confuse the words "fear" and "respect". The teacher that is unfair will never have the respect of the class but even the teachers that really slipper hard will gain respect if they treat every boy, and every case fairly.

That is one reason that in the schools I waS HEAD THE RIGHT TO CANE WAS LIMITED TO MYSELF AND DEPUTY. Of course the odd teacher would use a cane or blackboard point which was against the rules, and most teachers kept a sl;ipper in their desk drawer. The idea of limiting those who could cane was to make sure a common policy was followed. The same offence getting the same punishment from who ever was carrying out the punishment. It also prevented resentment of some teachers being know as soft caners while others really whacked the boy. It increases the chance eliment if the boy is caught. Will he get sent to a teacher that does it fairly softly or may not cae at all, or one that really whacks the boys bottom. Does the boy get it from a teacher that does it over trousers and pants or onw that insists the bottom is bare for whacking.The more teachers that use corporal punishment the greater the variation. That is why the use of the cane was supposed to be limited to certain teachers.

I had the case of PE teachers using the slipper.I say slipper, it was a gym shoe. A proper slipper like I used as a head was a houseslipper with the top cut off and a leather sole. This would sting twice as much as a gym shoe certainly when used on the bare bottom. One gym teacher refused to slipper boys and became known as "a soft trouch". His lessons were chaos and he had neither respect nor fear from the class. Another Pe teacher used the gym shoe fairly often but was not consistant. At times he used it across a boys shorts and atother times it was shorts down and the bare bottom slippered. he was not consistant, and it was nearly always the same boys that got it bare. This teacher was not respected but was only feared by the ones he use to whack on thge bare bottom as he really use to whack their bare cheeks., The other teacher used the slipper a fair amount but boys knew where they stood with him. play about or break the rules and it was shorts down and as a rule two fearson whacks with the gym shoe on the bare bottom. No boy was ever excused. This teacher was respected, not feared. Boys knew that if they behaved they would not get slippered but also knew if they did play about bottoms would be whacked with the same foirce regardless of who the boy was getting it.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 28 2012, 9:39 PM 

School Corporal punishment is an interesting , if largely historical subject.

The popularity of its origins lie in the social organization of teaching , which was largely determined in the later 18th and early 19th centuries. Although education was far different from today , as Foucault reminds us in his masterpiece 'Discipline and Punish',educational , or indeed any social punishment does not exist in a vacuum, but is part of a the social whole either is sustained( as in Southern States of the US today) by social structures, a socially constructed ethic , and social processes, or else the environment impacts and changes the practice.

This is what of course we've seen in the last 50 years in the United Kingdom

The utility of corporal punishment in the school setting depended on two crucial factors. First that you had a group of quasi identical animals in the class who needed to be taught in a quasi identical way , taught the same things, and made to follow a set of rules which really had no rationale other than to impose conformity. This of course was the 'invaluable' contribution of La Salle to school education.

Everyone forgot that even John Baptist de La Salle himself wrote that the system he suggested ( that of following the training methods of the Prussian army of the day ), was only adopted because it was cheap , and if education was to be universal it had to be cheap and cheerful. No room for non conformists.

Yet this system penalised exactly those who often provide the motor for social progress individuals and those with high level cognitive ability who saw beyond in their way the fa├žade of this educational behemoth.

It took the coming of the social sciences in the late 20th century to discover this, and these together with the reawakening of the neo Freudians in psychology, who got a huge boost after the demonstrable frauds of 'scientific' psychological investigation ,( racism, preconceptions, sexism, and just plain old conservative empiricism), both in their own way demonstrated the failure of the Lassalian model.

Unfortunately whilst this led to 'liberalisation' of curriculum and pedagogy, it failed to root out root and branch the Lassalian fables, which like Grimm's fairy stories inhabit the dark recesses of reactionary minds and were reproduced by historical teachers like Dr Dominum, Mrs BB, and Headmaster George.

Whilst their model is Lassallian at base, I suppose my model of teaching is more inspired by Alice through the looking glass. A system which teaches, and indeed requires the student to challenge and question everything , and develops their mind through direct Socratic dialogue. I believe that using this method there is no need in educational terms for much if anything in the way of serious punishment at all.Where there is such a need correction should be aimed to positively reinforce the correct social choice and so should be 'learning directed' not 'Pavlovian 'instinct directed'.

What has to be bred is a mutual respect. I think that I and others with like minds have shown it can be done even with pupils labelled disruptive and unteachable by mainstream standards. I often look at the kids on programmes like 'that'll teach 'em who are labelled untraceable failures' and recall the Jesuit 'comment' 'Give me the child before he is seven , and I'll give you the adult ' .

Where Dominum , George and BB, needs a cane, we need talk. Why? Because at base the Lassalian believes , just like the army sergeant , that to train a conscript you must first break down what is there and then rebuild it .Modern Social science, or as I would prefer, modern bricolage has shown that to be absolute rubbish!

Yes you must if you want an automaton : but we don't we wan t a critical sentient human being , with moral values and ethical standards. and you don't get that by beating in obedience.

I often think Why SHOULD an eleven year old boy wear a cap to school? why should girls have to wear straw hats in summer even if they look stupid or jail bait in them ? What is the educational purpose of rote rules if not to squash any vestige of individuality out of schoolkids.

Why do kids think it clever to smoke and maybe expose themselves to lung cancer and worse ? Why should the last two back from a cross country run be seen as lazy and feckless- someone has to be last if someone is to be first ..........and so it continues . Why will beating the thick and indolent teach them anything at all except sadism and that the bully wins? At least the Army sergeant is up front about using bullying as a method of discipline. Teachers won't admit it and then beat up kids who follow their example.

Ivan Illich ( de schooling society) had a lot more going for him than people thought in the 70's . The first step in making people learn is to get them to respect themselves and value their own worth , then they'll take control of their negotiated learning goals. Until teachers ( who are always a decade behind everyone else - why? Because they are taught to teach by those at the end of their careers and to imitate)learn to turn the classroom on its head we will continue to get the sort of failure rates we do today.

At least now we get a bit more humility from the Far East as well, who are now being shown to have got , in hidden form, many of the exact same problems in their classes that we have .Discipline makes for a certain type of learning , possibly fine when the world was organised by an Empire which prided itself on its military machine , and obedient civil service, but not adequate today in out fast changing multi faceted society.

Victorian teaching methods produced a society fit for the Victorian era, we are 100 years and more beyond that.We don't have to apologise for what happened in the past , for to slightly rewrite the quote 'the past is a different country and they did things differently there'. We do, however, have to recognise its lack of functionality today in terms of the changed goals of society and the spring cleaning of social morality .

As bob Dylan put it forty years ago

Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.




Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 28 2012, 11:12 PM 

Hi Prof.n,

A most interesting article. But one small point. You quote the Jesuitical maxim as:

'Give me the child before he is seven , and I'll give you the adult '

Surely that should be:

Give me the child until he is seven years old and I will give you the man.

I don't think the Jesuits went in for educating girls very much, and indeed the technique may not work with them.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 28 2012, 11:16 PM 

Hi Another Lurker

You are of course correct : but I am politicly correct happy.gifhappy.gifhappy.gif



That Jesuitical Maxim

December 28 2012, 11:45 PM 

Hi Prof.n,

And it isn't you who may incur the wrath of you know who! happy.gifwink.gifhappy.gif

de Wolf

Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 29 2012, 2:01 AM 


I believe you are confused by the definition of "fear" and "respect". The boys' you mention did fear
the PE Teacher, because had they respected him they would never have broken that respect and played up.
That is how it works I'm afraid, the thought of displeasing him would be a deterrent.

I can honestly say I don't know of anyone who was caned or slippered on the bare. It certainly wasn't a policy at my school. What did these boys' parents' think of this practice?



Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 29 2012, 4:36 AM 

Hi mastergoody,

As you've posted in more than one thread, I'll take the opportunity to say a personal welcome to the Forum in this one if I may please. I hope that you'll find topics that you wish to contribute on in the future.

I note that you possess a complete copy of a school punishment book from the 50s and 60s. I will be completely honest, and say that my last effort to persuade someone to display punishment book pages here was successful but sadly ended in tears. However in that instance there were special circumstances. The pages were relevant to issues here which were already controversial, and which for a number of reasons became very controversial indeed. Eventually the person who had provided them followed my advice and withdrew them.

I cannot imagine that any such problems would be likely to arise over the punishment book you describe. Is there any chance please that I can persuade you to display a small selection of the pages here, especially as you say they indicate a changing philosophy regarding the use of the cane?

As you have your own Forum you are possibly familiar with displaying images, but if not I would be very happy to advise. Unfortunately, given the date of the books, you may feel that it is necessary to obscure names, or at least surnames, on images, and that does entail some work in a graphics package.

I hope that you will give the matter some consideration, but I shall fully understand if you decline.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 29 2012, 2:50 PM 

Hi george

Again I am sorry but cannot agree with your statement. I do not think teachers went out of their way to be unfair but crept in due to their personal feelings.

I agree that is a factor but there were schools with openly stated policies that a certain group of pupils (usually about half the total) would be exempt from CP - no matter how badly they behaved.

A boy that is always playing around in class, will tend to annoy a teacher more than one that hardly causes trouble. The big offender can expect the teacher to crack the slipper very hard across his bottom or sent him to the head. The other boy may just be warned or get no more than what amounts to a tap with the slipper.

That's quite reasonable. In some schools and with some teachers, exactly the opposite happened. The child who continually played around in class would just get yet another "telling off" but the usually well behaved boy who just whispered to a classmate would be slippered. That's not indicative of a teacher trying to be fair.

Several contributors have posted details of similar experiences here so such events weren't all that uncommon. You've argued in favour of treating pupils fairly but Perhaps, as a former Headmaster, you could cast some light on why some teachers and schools would effect such policies.

The teacher that is unfair will never have the respect of the class but even the teachers that really slipper hard will gain respect if they treat every boy, and every case fairly.

I agree but, quite clearly, the type of teacher I mention above either doesn't agree or doesn't want to earn respect.

The idea of limiting those who could cane was to make sure a common policy was followed. The same offence getting the same punishment from who ever was carrying out the punishment.

That's not sufficient, the common policy has to be fair too. As I said above, some schools' policies were deliberately designed to be unfair - even going so far as to prevent the same offence being punished in the same way no matter what the teacher's personal feelings.



December 31 2012, 1:55 PM 

I agree that is a factor but there were schools with openly stated policies that a certain group of pupils (usually about half the total) would be exempt from CP - no matter how badly they behaved.

During the 50's this never arose as all boys wrre subject to corporal punishment and no exceptions.
In the 60's this was still much the case
It was late 60's and into the 70's that saw this trend of pupils being exempt from corporal punishment, but by this parents tended to mean only the cane and not the slipper. Indeed when corporal punishment was abolished by law a lot of [parents thought that this only meant the cane and did not include a slap or the slipper.

It is true that some schools did excuse boys the cane on requests from parents. These schools tended to have great problems over the policy on corporal puniahment. It was unworkable that some boys could be caned while other could not. A friend of mine found himself it that position. Two boys were caught bullying. They were 12 years old. Both were equally guilty of the crime and were informed that they woukd get six of the cane, which in thgis school was done over trousers and pants. The first boy bent over and took six on his bottom. The head then told the other boy that as his parents did not want him cane he had no choice but to expell him. Tthe boy almost begged to be caned, and even said he wanted to be caned rsather than expelled and he would not tell his parents. What a position my friend was in. Rightly or wrongly the boy was told to bend over and six strokes given. Nothing more was heard of the situation. I think it is fair to say that most schools were either a caning or non caning school and not a mix. Some schools however contacted the parents before a caning was given and in most cases the choice was he would either be caned or expelled.



December 31 2012, 2:11 PM 

Several contributors have posted details of similar experiences here so such events weren't all that uncommon. You've argued in favour of treating pupils fairly but Perhaps, as a former Headmaster, you could cast some light on why some teachers and schools would effect such policies.

I do agree that the way boys were punished and the reasons for the punishment was not always fair. Differant teachers did this in differing ways. I can only said that it taught boys the lesson thaT NOT ALL PEOPLE RESPOND IN THE SAME WAY. Some teachers would never send a boy to me for the cane as they did not agree with it while others would send a boy for the least little thing. This did not happen very much in my school but was common in others. This was for the simple reason the head did not lay down clear instructions as to which offences needed punishment by him and those that did not.The trouble was, that a lot of heads did not walk around the school and see what is going on and then see certain members of staff. It showed weak leadership and enforcement.

I had the sytsem where by a boy was given a report form to bring to myt office at the end of the day if a teacher thought bhe reqyuired an encounter with the cane. This had many things in its favour. The teacher had to fill out a report form which took time and was not something done in a fit of temper. It certainly made the boy think about his behaviour for the rest of the day and his pending caning. The last thing he would want was another report form. It also gave the teacher the chance to ask the boy for the form back and withdraw the complaint. It also mDE SURE THAT BOYS DID NOT WASTE LESSON TIME GOING TO FIND ME AND GET THE CANE. Any teacher found using a cane would face dismissal. The slipper was another issue. I took the view that as long as I received no complaints I would not raise the matter with the teacher, vut that does not mean I would nt indicate that I knew he slippered boys. The PE staff were always the most common slipperers in the school. With them it was mostly shorts down and two on the bare bottom...mostly for talking and havuing the wrong or no kit. It was very rare that a complaint was made and rarer still that it was justified.

I do agree that without strong management, unofficial punishments by teachers coul be unfair.



December 31 2012, 2:15 PM 

. As I said above, some schools' policies were deliberately designed to be unfair - even going so far as to prevent the same offence being punished in the same way no matter what the teacher's personal feelings.

I do not really know what you mean by this statement. I would be happy to commewnt if you could expand your point. I am not aware that any school had a deliberate policy about boys getting differing punishments for the same offence.


de Wolf

December 31 2012, 3:26 PM 

I can honestly say I don't know of anyone who was caned or slippered on the bare. It certainly wasn't a policy at my school. What did these boys' parents' think of this practice?

It seems a simple question to answer but is very complex. It differs with area and the time period. I can only speak from my experiences which will not be the same for most heads.

In St Peters (state but Church run school)the area was one of heavy industry. Dads tended to work down the mines and during the war mothers tended to work in the uniform factories. During the war the attitude was very much "discipline wins wars" and this was taught mostly at school. The school was responsible for boys conduct both in and out of school. Parents were happy to leave this to me. I was local and well known in the area. Some of the vparents had been to school with me. The policy was if I felt the boys needed the cane, then they must have deserved it. As it was given after school in my office, parents were often waiting go collect their children and couykld see into my office and see bare bottoms being caned.It seemed to get approval and even mothers of boys who were bending over, if the window was open, could be heard "its about time he got it"..."that will teach him".
The fact the boy had to take it on his bare bottom, and would be seen by many parents did not cause a problem. We are talking about boys no older than 12.

In their homes these boys were often bathed in a large tub in the kitchen. Being terrace houses people were always in and out of each others houses and was common to see boys in the bath. With clothing short boys were often seen swimming nude in the lake....it was no cause of embarrassment to them. Parents tended to uae the rule that the cane was for school use and the strap or belt at home. An old cut down miners belt was the most common. it was both wide and very thick and did not need to be doubled up for use on a boys bottom. This made it easy to use. The belting would be done by the father (if not at war or dead) or by another male. I wasa asked to carry it out a few times during the war. The belting was carried out in the front room, often called the Sunday Room. The kitchen could not be used as meals were being prepared and tge other rooms often too small to give the strap a good swing. The Sunday room always had a big table and dresser. The Dresser was at tge far end of the room facing the window and the table in middle. Boys always had to reach over the table from the far end so their bottom was facing the winbdow. The room was too narrow for the boy to bend over it from the side and the strap given a good swing without danger of knocking things off the shelves. They could not go over the other end in case of knocking the best china off the dresser. This meant it was over the window end of the table, with the bottom facing it. Being terrace houses they had no front garden, and besides blackouts used after dark, had no curtains. Anybody passing could see into the room and not only hear but clearly see the strap going across the boys bottom. The boy always got it bare, sometimes with his trousers down and shirt up but often was completely naked. I t was the norm, no body thought it was wrong that a boy was getting his bare bottom straped. It was surprising the numer of boyts that just happened to be walking past, and had to do up a shoe lace, just as a boy was stretching over the table to get whacked. It was commom in the home, so parents saw no differance in the cane being used on the bare bottom in school, and could see the need for it to be done bare.

The 1950's was very much the same, with the old terrace houses not starting to be demolished until 1959 ( I think). Still the houses had no bath, and the toilet was in the garden. Boys still swam nude in the lake and were bathed in the kitchen. The strap was still used and seen by all going across boys bare bottoms in the front room. At the school, parents not only expected but almost demanded that if little Fredie was naughty he would have to report to my office after school and get a few strrokes of the cane on his bare bottom. Again this could be seen by other parents. The general rule was that the children of the 1950 era were not disciplined enough and had no excuses like those in 1940 era due to the war. The view was that bottoms needed whacking much more often and harder than was being done. I, at the shool was reminded, in no uncertain terms, that I was responsible for boys conduct both in and out of school. Such was the power of the headmaster in those days.Yes...I was respected by parents and the local community. Most teachers that were male, had been in the armed services during the war, and believed in unquesationed obedience and discipline was more important than education. The way to enforce it was by putting boys on report, to come to my office after school and be caned. Sometimes nobody was on report, but I can also recall some days over twenty waiting to be caned. I can recall one mother saying to another "I hope my lad is one of the first. I have not got tea ready yet for my hubby." Notice, the total lack of concern over her son that is waiting to be caned. I think it is fair to say that the 1950 era saw more canings than any other. While, given the circumstances I do feel most of the canings were justified, had the offences taken place in say 1965 only about 1 in 10 of the offences would have resulted in the cane.

In the 1950's it was not only parewnts that demanded the cane be used. Any teacher sending a boy to me after school, not only expected but demanded him to be caned. Often the note had a brief wxplanation of the offence but often "Please Cane him" and it was left up to me to work out how many strokes he should get....one thing was certain before leaving my office he would have had the cane across his bare bottom. Outsiders also demanded action being taken against boys at the sxchool who were naughty out of school. I will recall onew story....

On a Tuesday a very angry women came into school at breaktime demanding to see me. She told me two boys had thrown mud at her washing Monday night. She did not know their names but knew where they lived. She asked me to deal with them, staing (words to the effect) "Their parents are too soft...you will give then a proper going over." I asked to stay whi;e I looked up the addresses and if she could then confirm that these were the boys. I arranged for her to have some tea while it was sorted out, and sent for the two boys. She confirmed it was them and the two boys admitted the crime. As they were already in my office I informed them they were going to get six of the cane each. I assumed at this point she would leave, but just helped herself to another cup of tea. She then said "I trust you do not mind if I stay and watch. I have had to do the whole wash again." I replied (of course I cannot remember the exact words) "Certainly, but you know it will be on the bare bottom". She replied "I certainly hope it will be." With that I called the first boy forward , told him to drop his trousers and bend over. I lifted up his shirt to reveal his bottom. With her closely watching I administered six swishing strokes across it, resulting in him crying on the fourth stroke. She showed no signs of pity on her face anbd then watched the other boy getting his bottom caned. On their way out she said "I hope it hurt and your backsides are sore for days." A very hard women....not really, they were all like it.

A few years later I moved to a private school. Better class housing and punishment at home was done in private but most boys had to take their trousers down and have a slipper, strap or stick across their pants but many had it bare. It was now something that was not talked about so much....indeed hardly at all. This had an effect on school caning. It was no longer demanded by parents but more accepted by them. Most had attended the sachool themselves and the policy had been if you were sent to the headmaster for any reason it was trousers and pants down and a few strokes of the cane. This continued until I retired. It was accepted on five grounds I think. Firstly, it was tradition. It had not hurt anybody in the past so way stop a trusted measure. Secondly, I was not a stranger and known to most parents and they trusted me to be fair. Thirdly, all boys were caned on their bottom and had it bare. Fourthly, it was done openly. So so open as at St Peters, but not in my office with the door closed and the curtains pulled over. You could see intomy office from a pathway that was built up. The way my office was arranged anybody on that path could see right in and actually see the cane making contact with the boys bare bottom. Their was no secretacy. I heard one mother saying to another " your lads going to be sore tonight. I have just seen him get four strokes with mine " No fuss or vcomplaints..it was accepted. Lastly, boys were more shy about showing their bodies but we had showers at school, and boys were always being seen, including by me after games, in the nude. I did once here a boy ask his mother " I know I deserve the cane but can you ask him tolet me keep my pants off. It will ve well embarrassing with nothing on." his mother replied to the effect that if he did not want to be caned he should behave. iT WAS BECAUSE HE WAS GOING TO BE CANED THAT HE WAS GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE HIS PANTS OFF"....IT WAS THE END OF THE MATTER


Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 31 2012, 4:56 PM 

Hi George

It is true that some schools did excuse boys the cane on requests from parents. These schools tended to have great problems over the policy on corporal punishment. It was unworkable that some boys could be caned while other could not.

Quite a lot of teachers claimed such policies would be unworkable when, following the ECHR ruling, it was suggested that parents be able to exempt their children from CP. I would tend to agree although it seems to work well in the US and some schools already had policies that exempted certain pupils from CP. Prof N's school exempted 'A' stream pupils and those from single parent (female led) families. Doctor Dominum's school has the "Red List" of boys who are exempt from CP. By far the most common however, were those co-educational schools that exempted all girls, no matter how badly behaved they were. In such schools, as I said, a boy and a girl, with identical antecedence, could commit exactly the same offence (smoking or bullying for example) with identical culpability but only the boy would be caned. The girl would either be let off or given some token "punishment" - even if she were a serial offender. Admittedly, in a few cases girls faced a more severe punishment such as expulsion.

I would be happy to commewnt if you could expand your point. I am not aware that any school had a deliberate policy about boys getting differing punishments for the same offence.

I didn't say "boys", I said "children". Now that's clear, perhaps you can comment.

This discriminatory treatment was frequently a bone of contention, as can be seen from several posts I linked to (here), causing division in the such schools - as you alluded to in your posts here and here


Inconsistent School CP

December 31 2012, 7:24 PM 


As a headmaster, and your belief in bare bottom caning being quite normal. Taking into consideration Jennys point, did you ever, or would you have done, if as the headmaster of a mixed junior or secondary school, caned girls on the bare bottom.

de Wolf

Re: Inconsistent School CP

December 31 2012, 10:12 PM 


As the offence of those two boys throwing mud on the woman's washing had taken place after school hours, it seems you were totally out of order caning them. Being soft or otherwise it was the responsibility of the boy's parent's to discipline them.
In any case the woman shouldn't have been present while the caning was in progress.

Oliver Sydney

Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 4:12 AM 

Hi George

Thank you for your further detailed reminiscences. I note in particular one statement that you made.
I think it is fair to say that the 1950 era saw more canings than any other.

How would you compare the caning rate in the 1950s with that during the period you attended school (the 1920s and 1930s) ?

I ask because you seem to be concurring with Renee of TWP, who stated (speaking of the USA) here :
QUESTION TO ALL: As some readers here may be aware, I believe in "generational cycles" of history. Along with that, I do believe that scp surged upwards in the U.S. after the WWII years and then receded in the late 1970s. IMO, the WWII veterans were the most "paddle-happy" generation and the post-WWII baby boomers were the most paddled generation ever -And as a result, the latter became the most militant anti- c.p. generation ever.

In contrast Harold Hoff states (speaking of Toronto and Canada more generally) here :
From sources including anecdotal recounts, trustee commentaries on CP use in schools, and various punishment statistics publicly released (Globe or Star articles) during trustee debates: there was an undeniable trend of declining SCP use from ca.1850 right up to the (renamed) Toronto Board of Education ban in July of 1971.



Punishments in school for out of school offences.

January 1 2013, 8:32 AM 

Hi de Wolf,

Tell me, are you one of these strange people we encounter from time to time on this estimable Forum who thinks that what happened in their schools when they attended them was what happened in all schools everywhere at all times?

I ask because of a very strange comment you make to George:

As the offence of those two boys throwing mud on the woman's washing had taken place after school hours, it seems you were totally out of order caning them.

Some schools have probably been punishing pupils for things that happened outside school hours for as long as there have been schools!

At my own secondary school boys were regularly punished (including being caned, though more often by the Prefects than by the Headmaster) for things that happened outside school hours. The school rules said that anything done by a pupil which brought discredit on the school was an offence. So if any pupils had done something such as George recounts, and the victim had known they went to the school and reported them to the school, they could have been punished by the school.

In practice most 'out of school hours' punishments were for uniform offences on the way to or from school. Even if it was three hours since you left school, if you were still in school uniform and a Master or a Prefect spotted you not wearing a cap when you hadn't earned the right not to wear one (limited to some sixth formers only) action would be taken.

But it wasn't limited to that. Get spotted acting stupidly in the town on a Saturday lunch time or afternoon (we had Saturday morning school), action would be taken. Get spotted smoking anywhere, any time, in or out of uniform, action would be taken. Get spotted entering or leaving any of the establishments the school banned (mostly notorious coffee bars), action would be taken.

Now agreed that was a Public Day School with a very high standing in the community and very strict rules and conditions of attendance. But at that time (the 1950s) most schools were quite ready to take action over at least some things that pupils did outside school hours if somebody complained about it.

In the latter part of this post you'll find an account by a once prolific contributor of his exploits outside school during lunch time at his Primary School. Not entirely dissimilar to the lads in George's story, shooting/throwing stuff at washing was common then - dryers hadn't been invented so there was lots of it around! Only his skill with the fair sex saved him from punishment. happy.gif And you can bet in that era that punishment would have been corporeal!

Various other accounts of school punishments for out of school activities here. That one just happens to be easy to find by searching for 'catapult' in the Forum Search Engine.



Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 9:32 AM 

Hi Oliver Sydney,

With regard to your query to George, you may wish to note that it has been postulated here by various people that in England school corporal punishment actually increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and that this increase continued into the 1970s. A noted proponent of this theory was a contributor using the pseudonym 'ink-lined plane' who maintained that this was particularly so in the case of girls, and ascribed the effect to a variety of social and economic factors.

I regret that at the time I found myself in strong opposition to ink-lined plane's views, and together with another frequent contributor I argued vigorously against him. I have since said on more than one occasion that I greatly regret taking that stance, and apologised to him. Gradual accretion of evidence has led me to think now that there might have been at least some justification in what he claimed.

You may wish to have a look at this thread originated by ink-lined plane. The title Mixed secondary modern- Schoolgirl CP 'paradise'? is perhaps a little melodramatic, but his views as regards an increase in school CP, and the reasons for it, do emerge despite the concentration on the punishment of girls.

de Wolf

Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 10:07 AM 

Hi Another_Lurker,

I sincerely hope that was a rhetorical question, delivered as an introduction, not a serious question where you believe I wear blinkers? Of course different schools had different rules to mine.

The rules at my school where that of many, and very sensible in my opinion.

Leaving your premises on a morning you were under the school's jurisdiction, until you returned that evening, or, if, for some reason your parents collected you for an appointment. It was made crystal clear to us, if we misbehaved to or from school and were reported, the punishment was a severe caning. This did occur from time to time.

I don't find it strange, out of school hours, parents' taking responsibility for their own children. The school can write whatever rule they please, that has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on how they rear their children and any parent worth their salt would be up-in-arms to this type of interference. A teacher has no right to punish a child for something done while under their parents' supervision. The school is suppose to educate a child to academic achievement, not dictate what they can or cannot do outside of school hours.

I also believe if a child is punished at school that is the end of the matter, there is no need for their parent's to also punish that child. In fact it's quite ridiculous to even go down that road of thought.



January 1 2013, 10:24 AM 

You raise an interesting question as to if I would have caned girls on the bare bottomn in a mixed school. I really cannot give you a firm answer as it is one of those questions you do not really know the answer to until in that position. I think in reality it is a case that would not arise in mixed schools. If the head was male the deputy would be female and vice versa. If it was not then the school would have a Senior Mistress who would deal with the girls. I think it would have been very unlikely that a male head found himself in the position of caning a girls bare bottom.....society would not have tolerated it (I will expand on societies views on the way girls were treated if it is of interest)



January 1 2013, 11:58 AM 

Sorry Jenny but I often change the word "children" to "boys" as they were the ones I taught. I do agree with you that boys and girls were not always treated the same as each over punishments. Girls were more likely, I think, to be given a lecture where as boys tended to be whacked. I think this stems from the idea that "girls are the weaker sex" and seem more able to get round teachers, certainly male ones ! On this score I aGREE BOYS AND GIRLS WERE NOT TREATED THE SAME, but would not subscribe to the view that marked differances in well run schools took place between how pupils of the same sex were punished. Please note I use the words "well run" schools...these being ones where the head is in full control of both staff and pupils,


de Wolf...out of school

January 1 2013, 12:25 PM 

The school is suppose to educate a child to academic achievement, not dictate what they can or cannot do outside of school hours.

Firstly I would agree fully that not all schools were the same. Often the reputation of a school was judged as much by how the pupils behaved in the town as at school. I fully agree that if a boy is out with his parents then it is the schools responsibilty to deal with the matter not the schools. The cases I am talking about is where the boy is not with his parents. I think you will find, not in all cases, but in the 1950/60 eras headmasters not only had the right in laW BUT WERE EXPECTED TO DEAL WITH OFFENCES COMMITED BY THEIR PUPILS OUTSIDE SCHOOL HOURS.
It was widely accepted that if you did something wrong out of school, it could be reported to the school, and the headmaster would deal with it. The case I stated about the washing is a good example. The person concerned felt that one of the boys would not be punished with enough severity, so rightly she reported it to the school. She knew here he would get what he deserved and that I had every right to cane him.

I agree with your point that it is unfair that boys wrre whacked at school and then punished again, aften by another whacking, at home. I think we have to put it in context of the time and the offences. In the 1945-64 period education was regarded as much more important than before or indeed after. Remember these parents grew up in the time of the Great Depression (1926) and how then it was only by education that the working class felt they could better themselves. In this 1945-64 period parents were tough on their children, certainly boys, concerning educatiuon. They felt they had a duty as parents to fully support the school and, rightly or wrongly, punished boys if they had been in trouble at school. The problem was that if boys got the slipper from their class teacher, many parents did not regard this as a "proper" punishment. They felt the teacher did not have the time to give a proper whacking and needed parent support. In these cases boys often found themselves over the table , with pants down and dads strap being applied to a still red bottom. Mind you this would depend on the offence. If it was something to do with academic work, then he would get a whacking. If it was a fight, where the boy stood up for himself, then he may be praised for this ....not whacked.

This is one reason that boys opted to get the slipper, rather than detention. If they were given a detention parents would know why they were late home and it was another encounter with dads strap to make sure the lesson had been learnt. Boys used the logic that it was better to be slippered, at least their was a good chance parents would not find out, so prevent a double punishment. BTW detention in those days was one hour not these short ones like today.

The one problem with the double punishment, was that boys did not tell their parents when they had been whacked. Why should they risk a secong whacking ? I stress, it was NOT the case with me, but it may have encouraged some heads and teachers to whack harder and more often as they knew the boys would not complain to their parents....this may account for some of the punishments that we now consider abuse taking place.



January 1 2013, 12:55 PM 

you may wish to note that it has been postulated here by various people that in England school corporal punishment actually increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and that this increase continued into the 1970s

It is hard to agree or disagree with this statement. It depends on what you regard as corporal punishment. Is it just the cane or includes the slipper. Are we talking about officia caning done by the head of unofficial caning by the teacher that was not recorded.

Pre war class teachers oftren kept a cane in the class. Any talking, untidy work or poor work and it was "Hand out lad" and THWAACK. That was the end of the matter and it was not recorded. However, punishment for serious offences such as truancy were punished by the head. Here, it was a caned bottom (clothed or bare) and the punishment recorded.

Post war the use of the cane was confined to a few teachers and this resulted in a much greater use of the skipper/.gym shoe. These could be found in most teachers desks, and were whacked across a boys bottom for the least little thing. In this case I think it is far to say that the number of whackings increased but not with the cane. As regards the cane, it is a hard job to tell. On balance I would say it did. One has to be carefull and not include the one stroke of the cane given by class teachers pre war and post war dealt with bvy a heft whack with the slipper. Teachers post war, for reasons already stated, were very strict on discipline. Some did not think the slipper was painful enough for boys that failed to produce homework or of a good standard. I introduced the rule that any boy that a teaxcher felt had to be sent to me for this offence would report after school in the normal way. It was then, no excuses accepted, two strokes on the bare bottom. I regarded these asa minor offences and punishments and they wrre not recorded. It was only three strokes or more that were recorded.

I do think that if you only count the cane,m and two or more strokes it was used more post war. Ithink th\t six of the best was certainly more common.

Just one little tale about homework. It must have been about 1950. We all know the lad, the class goody goody that never did anything wrong had to report to me after school for failing to produce homework. Of course this was two of the cane and everybody knew he was going to get it. The boy protested that he had done it, but somehow the piece of paper had been lost. This was an old excuse, and no excuse was acceptable. He almost begged not to be caned and said his mum would confirm he had done it. Did I waste time checking it, or did I just do as the teacher wanted and cane him. I partly believed him but if I had to investigate every excuse boys gave, nothing would have been done. I told the boy that the issue was not if he had done the homework or not , but had failed to produce it. Not really the same thing. Just like any other caning i told him to take his trousers and pants down and bend over. As I measured up his bottom for the cane I noticed afairly large group of boys in the playground looking into mt study rather than going home. Of course I knew why they were waiting, they wanted to see him caned. May be some think I should have sent then home, but took no notice. After all he had got many of them the cane and seen it administered, so it was a kind of rough justice. The lad took the two across his bottom much to the glee of those outside..........it was weeks later I found out the trueth. Another boy had taken the work out of his bag. The reason being that the goody goody had told the teacher that the boy had carved his name on the underside of his desk where it bwould not be seen. He of course was sent to me after school and was punished for vandalism. He got six on the bare bottom and the other boy watched laughing from the playground.

I bet some of you have views on this one !!!!

Oliver Sydney

Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 2:24 PM 

Hi Another_Lurker

Thank you very much for your reply and the link to ink-lined plane's interesting contribution. Certainly the raising of the school leaving age to 15 would have created a whole new group of unwilling pupils. NSW raised the school leaving age to 15 in 1943, but did not raise it again until 2010 (to 17). As one would expect some of the issues have been repeated. See http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/News/The-Impact-of-the-Raised-School-Leaving-Age

Consistency and fairness are crucial issues in determining attitudes to CP. I attended a boys high school (comprehensive). The cane was used significantly more on those in the less academic classes. I think the difference was more due to their lack of interest in what was being taught than inconsistency or unfairness.

Perhaps we were lucky, but I do not believe the fact that most teachers used the cane led to any great unfairness or inconsistency. I would suggest that those of my friends and classmates who were more frequent recipients regarded the cane as more of a "toll" (as Jenny wrote somewhere) than a deterrent. I recall little disorder in classes - maybe we were more conformist and subservient than those who followed a few years later. Vietnam and conscription had a massive impact at Universities in the late 1960s but much less in schools.

Being at a state high school, the school's interest in outside behaviour was restricted to the journeys to and from school. Dr Dominum, in another thread, stated that as a private school head he saw a rather wider responsibility.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 2:44 PM 

An interesting post from George.

I think it would have been very unlikely that a male head found himself in the position of caning a girls bare bottom.....society would not have tolerated it

Indeed. Now what does George mean here by society? Surely the norms and values shaped by the Shibboleths of patriarchy? Just as the Mosaic law of the ancient Jews fashioned their social structure and hierarchy, so patriarchy does the same for us . Those decisions about girls are not taken for reasons of equality but because of the prohibitions which keep women in their place in society ...the shame of menstruation, the guilt of female genitalia, as opposed to the prowess of the penis ( the statue of David being as good example).

Society's toleration or otherwise was a reflection of the deliberate subjugation of the female to the male , the undermining of which would lead to the redundancy of social processes and structures.

Women being educated separately from men removed the educated strata of women from direct interaction with the labour market, leaving them as owed appendages of their husbands...and like all property they had to be protected from damage , or the urge to independence. Even the linguistic device wo-man and fe-male appendages the issues of differentiated sexuality at the formative linguistic level.Finally I'll leave you with this thought. Corporal punishment was only used for girls by a few 'schoolmistresses/governesses' in the middle class Victorian households. Yet this minority were often , oddly the well educated and who demanded success of their students. Those who had in a sense imbued with the raison d'etre of patriarchal society

Remember the early feminists demanded more not less from their sex, and maybe mistakenly adopted the masks and mantra of the 'hierarchical betters' who were , of course , male.

Now, who is afraid of Virginia Wolf, let alone the steamboat ladies ?


In qualified praise of diversity (inconsistency)

January 1 2013, 5:45 PM 

Life is full of inconsistencies. Who your parents were, where you were born, where you live and went to school, who your boss is, your health and everything else differ. So why should schools be different?

When I was in school, some teachers were strict and others less so. Some used the strap or cane far more than others. Ideally, all teachers would have had the skill and presence not to need to use CP, at least not for offences in their own classrooms where they nominally have control. In reality, few have what it takes and we must make do with normal humans as teachers.

I do not recall the differences between teachers causing any concern among the pupils. We knew and understood people were different and learned to cope. Our teachers differed and we accepted that.

What we did not like were unfair teachers who were inconsistent in their treatment of students or inconsistent in their punishment of particular crimes, for no apparent or no valid reason. Nor did we like teachers who varied from day to day and were thus unpredictable. Of course, there were usually signs for the astute to notice when the teacher was in a bad mood and extra care was needed not to provoke the beast.

Schools very much reflect their communities and need to prepare children for the real world. None of the above should be taken to mean that schools should not strive to be consistent and fair, but consistent with other demands and not regardless of cost.


Motives for past inequalities.

January 1 2013, 6:12 PM 


You attribute to men motives that most never had. You ignore the fact that women bore children and many were totally occupied with the task. Many men believed, perhaps mistakenly, that women, especially mothers and mothers to be, needed their protection. Childbearing and childhood were hazardous. In a world where physical strength mattered, physical strength mattered and males were dominant. Few, men or women, could imagine a world much different from the one they inherited.

I am not suggesting a return to the past only an understanding. The role of effective birth control and a rising standard of living should not be overlooked. There is room to debate their importance. I am not suggesting all men are happy with the rise of women.

de Wolf

Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 1 2013, 10:30 PM 


First we are agreed on something, not all schools were the same. Mine didn't punish boys on the bare, or did I know of one that did, not that I'm saying it didn't happen. I didn't see the Holocaust, but from film footage and survivors' transcripts I know it did happened.

I very much doubt a law has ever been passed saying a school has more authority over a child than their parents. It would be insulting and demeaning to override the way they believe their children should be dealt with, within their jurisdiction. While in school I agree the teacher takes the place of the parent, in safety and disciplinary matters, but once that child is home, or under their parents' control, the school has no business whatsoever in any issue of discipline.

You notice I use the term "children" as both sexes would be included to what I'm alluding to. Believe me girls could and did behave as badly as boys.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 2 2013, 1:50 AM 

Hi KK,

I don't 'attribute' conscious motives to anyone. Societal and the Ideological figments which make up the social cement, are not 'conscious motivators'.Nor in most cases are they impinged upon by active and deliberate acts of choice. (Indeed when they are that's when we have a ideological rupture or fissure in the social continuum). Rather they provide a backcloth and an environment which predisposes society to reinforce certain organisational structures and process , and let others decay. Those that survive have a functionality which may well extend far beyond their 'apparent ' sphere , and include within them fragmentary elements which help to determine the social whole.

It's rather like in biology the newly hatched duckling is programmed by both its psychology and its environment to recognise the first object it sees on birth as its mother. Most times this instinct is functional - it sees its mother, but what of the 1/10,000 case where it sees a predator ? Or perhaps why Sparta produced so many effective and heroic warriors- it was largely a effect of the socialization of male children , where the state asserted primacy of its 'culture'..

Humanity believes, and to a great extent our society is built upon the myth we each have have complete free choice , and our modern industrial society in economics, law, and 'political democracy' reinforces this mythology. The truth is , that any freedom of choice is socially constrained . Those constraints are what we are talking about, and they include sex(gender) issues as well as race etc.

Oliver Sydney

Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 2 2013, 10:42 AM 

Hi George

Thank you for your thoughts on whether CP increased in schools after WW2, and your confirmation that it may well have. Your other comments make it clear how complex the question is.

On the class "goody goody", I see two distinct aspects. On one hand I was generally conscientious and would do my homework. On the other, a particular place in Hell is reserved for the "dobber" in Australian culture. It probably goes back to our convict forbears and certainly to the capture of the bushranger Ned Kelly, where the schoolteacher Curnow was condemned by many for warning the police.

I would have been very angry at a child who incriminated another child and caused them to receive punishment. However I was never aware of anyone doing this - if they did both they and the teacher kept it very quiet.

I never encountered a case such as has been related more than once in this forum. The teacher goes out of the room and puts a monitor in charge to write the names of any who misbehave. When the teacher returns he punishes those whose names are on the board - if there are no names he punishes the monitor. I would have found that situation impossible to handle.

I did in fact raise a question about "dobbing" in the TWP thread, and received a fairly sharp response:



January 2 2013, 3:15 PM 

I never liked the idea of a pupil being left in charge of a class while the teacher was out of the room. I have not heard of the monitor being punished if no names were on the board. The problem is that if you leave a monitor in charge it gives scope for old scores to be settled or for something that may have happened a short while ago. Of course for pupils anything is better than work, and what better excuse for not working than if the teacher has to tell off a few pupils and no doubt in the end slipper them.....a good way to waste time and sadly a lot of boys did like to see others being whacked if they themselves were not in trouble.

I had a problem as head at my private school. A monitor was left in charge and wrote the name of a boy on the board who as a rule was never a problem. The teacher questioned the monitor as to why the name was on the board. The boys whose name was on the board denied the charge and said he had not done anything. Some of the other boys, in a rather unruley way shouted out at the teacher he was lying. To be fair to the teacher he did have doubts but as he left the monitor in charge he had to back him, and other members of the class confirmed the boys guilt. As a rule the teacher gave two whacks of the slipper across the offenders trousers and the boy just bent over and took it. Here the boy had protested and in light of the evidence the teacher had to conclude the boy was lying. This increased the punishment, and much to the delight of the class the boy had to take his trousers down and was given three of the slipper across his pants.

He was a day boy and as soon as he got home, about an hour after being slippered, he must have told his mother who came charging uo the school demanding to see me. She wanted to know why here son had come home with a red bottom, which showed the imprints of where the slipper had hit him three times. She was in a right state and all i could say was i would investigate as i had no idea of what had gone on.

I carried out a full investigation. Sadly, it was found out that the boy had been set up. Four of the other boys in the class had given the monitor (they were 11 year olds) some sweets if they wrote his name on the board the next time he was left in charge. The reason for this was that the boy in question was the only one that had never had the slipper (he had been in the class two years)and they all felt it was about time he felt what it was like to be slippered.

I went to the class with the cane and to be fair the monitor and four others owned up right away when challanged. I had never done it before but to make an example of them they were caned in front of the class. Before you ask, they got four strokes each, and were required to pull down both their trousers and pants before bending over. In full view of the class they watched each one get four strokes right across the bare bottom. It soon spread around the school, not so much that they had been caned, but had to take it in front of the class. That offence never occured again but highlights the danger of using monitors.


Re: Inconsistent School CP

January 3 2013, 12:36 AM 

Hi George

On this score I aGREE BOYS AND GIRLS WERE NOT TREATED THE SAME, but would not subscribe to the view that marked differances in well run schools took place between how pupils of the same sex were punished.

I didn't say there were significant differences in how children of the same sex were punished. I said that some schools had policies that caused children, who committed exactly the same offence and had identical antecedence, to be punished treated differently. I avoided saying punished differently because, in many cases, members of the exempt group weren't punished at all. This wasn't just a matter of a teacher's personal feelings, it was school policy to treat children unequally and, therefore, unfairly.

You may think these weren't well run schools and I would agree. Nevertheless, there were a lot of them even though, as you said, "it was unworkable that some boys could be caned while other could not." I presume, from your opening statement, that the word "boys" should be replaced by the word "children". The point is, why did schools effect unworkable policies?

Pensioner James

Luck of the Draw

February 7 2013, 7:50 PM 

I've just today started to read this post but inconsistency was certainly common practice in my Secondary school(boys only), 1951-1954. Classroom punishments were administered with cane, slipper or mini cricket-style bat which was also used for playing rounders. The choice and severity depended upon which teacher was taking the lesson. One teacher may have favoured a single stroke of the cane on hand or bottom for not paying attention whilst another would give two for the same offence or if you were unfortunate three with the slipper or a couple with the bat. It was simply the luck of the draw. Apart from witnessing a public caning by the headmaster the worst,and in my opinion completely out-of-order punishment I saw was administered to boy from another class, perhaps in his final year (15), by the gym teacher. What offence had been committed I don't know but, wearing games shorts, he reported to the teacher whilst my class were in the gym. The teacher made him bend over and administered a very firm whack with the leather bound end of a gym rope. The boy fell over but the teacher made him bend over again and hold onto the wall bars for a second stroke. This time the boy fell into the bars.
I never had a problem with this particular teacher but apparently he had something of a reputation for severity.

In an earlier post George extended this topic a little with the introduction of home punishments and teachers giving punishments for out of school offences. Firstly if there are any doubters (do they exist on this forum?) my own experiences enable me to vouch for the historical accuracy of several of his claims. The belt and slipper and cane were used in the home, not just by fathers but mothers and in the case of one boy, his much older sister; he fended off this embarrassment by claiming that it was better than getting it from his dad. Bare bottom punishments were the norm and not the exception around our area and the application and effect could be clearly heard. My own father used a belt. He could be quite violent towards me and because of that my mother avoided telling him about my misdemeanours. I must confess that I took advantage of this situation. Finally she took remedial action by sending me to a woman friend for punishment. She gave it on the bare with belt or house slipper depending on her view of the seriousness of my offence. I think she became involved when I was about 12 or 13 but continued to discipline me until I left school. I can well remember the last belting; it was the result of me celebrating the end of my schooldays with some beer and cigarettes. She wasn't a particularly big or powerful woman but she had a strong arm and I can't ever recall ending up completely dry-eyed.

On one occasion my mother sent me to one of my past teachers, a lady friend of hers, for punishment. This brings me to George's reference to teachers punishing for out of school offences. It certainly happened in my locality. Also there were times when, instead of taking a boy's misbehaviour up with a parent, the offended victim, would refer the boy to his headmaster. This happened to a friend of mine and he was punished with a caning in the prescence of his woman victim. I never found out if this was ever brought to the attention of his parents.

In those 'gone-by' days teachers were next to God.

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