Hi SIR JOHN
Sorry for the long delay in responding to your post. Various factors, but mainly the 'distinction' I mentioned. I won't go into details as it isn't anything you could have had any influence over. It's fairly 'technical', to do with the way Network54 works, and I strongly suspect that only one other person on the Forum might be interested - and they'll probably tell me I'm too obsessed with trivia!
But I will say that it also involves one of our most notable former contributors, Lotta Nonsense! There, that's given you instant street cred with anyone who's been around for a bit!
But come to think of it you'll probably recall Lotta, as I notice you've been around quite a long time yourself, having posted here
back at the beginning of 2007. I'm sure that you could have contributed very usefully to some of the debates in the intervening period, but no matter, at least you are posting now.
Age, well yes, I am older than you, but not by as much as I'd thought. In fact you'd only have been a couple of forms back if we'd been at the same school. I must have miscalculated on some of the dates you've given.
I found your initial post in this thread very interesting. I think you had more than your fair share of CP administering characters at the Olga Street Junior School, but only by a small margin. There were a lot of them about in those days and we had a pretty fair quota in my own Junior school, and the odd one in the associated Infant school.
Like you I was rarely on the receiving end. Only twice in fact, the first of them in what in most schools would have been the top class of Infants, but for some reason (most probably, on reflection, the building layout) my schools operated a three form Junior school, so there it was the next to the top Infants class. That was the leg smacking, and it made me resolve to avoid CP thereafter, an objective in which I was pretty successful!
But though I dodged it myself, an awful lot of classroom CP went on, mostly in the Junior school. However I don't recall anyone ever being sent to the Headmaster (though he caned pupils from the associated Senior school, of which he was also Head). In the Junior school both boys and girls were smacked, rulered and slippered by a variety of techniques, both in lessons and at the end of lessons. Usually the former, as for the most part one teacher taught one class all the time, so there was no point in waiting to administer a punishment.
Why was it done, and why was it often done as a sort of theatrical performance? I think that to an extent both those questions have the same answer, class sizes! There were over 50 children in all my classes at the Junior school. One teacher had to manage those numbers on his or, much more usually, her own, and teach to the comparatively high standards expected then, when few if any children left Junior school unable to read and write properly. No Classroom Assistants, no parent helpers, just one teacher and a blackboard and some chalk.
Agreed in those days we sat at (or rather in, they were the all in one double fold-down bench type) desks arranged in rigid rows and columns, naughty/dim children at the front, clever/placid children at the back, and stayed there - no wandering about like today! But it was still necessary for teachers to do a certain amount of keeping the lid on things.
They did this by very firmly stamping their authority on proceedings. Retribution for stepping out of line had to be instant and fairly brief, so CP was ideal. The children most likely to get it were seated near the front anyway, and it only took a moment to order (or drag) them out to the front of class, whack away, and send them back to their seat, or, for additional emphasis, to stand in front of the class facing the wall.
Why the theatrical performances though? Not all teachers went in for this, some had such a fearsome reputation they didn't need to. But for some it was a deliberate tactic. It combined some elements of 'pour encourager les autres'. In the mid 18th century British Navy they publicly shot the odd Admiral to 'encourage' the other Admirals to toe the line and get stuck into battles when required. In mid 20th century classrooms they whacked rather more than the odd child to 'encourage' the other children to do pretty much the same thing - behave themselves. To this end the victim had to be seen to be subjected to discomfort and/or humiliation, usually both. And the message was 'behave yourself, or this will happen to you'!
But there was often another element, playing to the gallery. Children quite like a bit of theatre, and they are not usually averse to watching a classmate get whacked when they know they are not going to be. So the Teacher's subliminal message there was 'see, I'm punishing this naughty child, and giving you good children some entertainment. Be good, and be entertained'.
Exactly the same two elements, deterrence and entertainment, are still being used by Teachers elsewhere in much more recent times. Watch many of the surreptitiously shot classroom punishment videos from The Republic of Korea, Thailand etc. Those Teachers also seem to have to deal with big classes without assistance, and they are in cultures where good educational results are the expected norm. They'd have been quite at home in UK classrooms in the mid 20th century, and they adopt the same methods as teachers did then.
Big classes and no assistance means you can't let things slip, you must be in complete charge, and you haven't got time for reasoning, discussion, time outs and similar soft techniques. Were the Teachers who used corporal punishment in the ways discussed perverts? No, despite much discussion here, I still don't think they were. They did what they thought needed to be done, and they got results in the form of pupil attainment. I'm darned glad I got my initial education in that environment and not in many of today's Primary schools!