Jul 16, 2014

Crikey Clarifier: can a teacher smack your kid?

The man at the centre of Christopher Pyne's national curriculum review, Kevin Donnelly, thinks teachers are within their rights to dole out a little physical discipline now and then. Crikey intern Paul Millar asks: is that even legal?

Crikey Intern — The next generation of <em>Crikey</em> journalists.

Crikey Intern

The next generation of Crikey journalists.

Head of the national curriculum review Kevin Donnelly shocked radio 2UE listeners yesterday with the suggestion that he had no problem with the idea of bringing back corporal punishment in schools, to deal with unruly kids. Fighting back memories of our own traumatic childhoods, Crikey wades into the issue.


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11 thoughts on “Crikey Clarifier: can a teacher smack your kid?

  1. Jaybuoy

    Surely the cane toad Donnelly is going to be asked to fall on his strap.. Pyne needs to have a look at his own position also.. at least all those school halls so despised by the LNP will come in handy for dragging children behind for a quick attitude readjustment.. The Barati option..

  2. klewso

    I liked the Ripping Yarns (Tomkinson’s Schooldays)sort of corporal punishment.
    And Pyne would make a cracking Headmaster.

  3. paddy

    I’m with Klewso on the Ripping Yarns scenario.
    But rather than a mere cane or strap, I think Pyne should go for the “Full Tomkinson”.
    A Leopard for every school.

    Note: For those who’ve not seen Tomkinson’s Schooldays, a true treat lies in store.

  4. Robert Jameson

    I expect this talk about bringing back the strap is merely a talking point. Two things –

    1.) The Education departments, without a total reversal of policy, will not allow it. Any teacher that caned a student would quickly be shown the door.

    2.) The rabble in government schools suits the Abbotts and Pynes of this world. No competition for prestige places from the great unwashed from middle and lower class govt schools.

    Our government schools could easily implement the changes that are needed without the re-introduction of corporal punishment. They only need to introduce streaming. Just removing the 3 or 4 kids from classrooms that do not want to learn would be a good start – if they are serious about change?

  5. Kinkajou

    In states where there is no legislation banning its use they would still have assault charges as an option for the victims no..?
    Or is there legislation allowing child assault in those states

  6. mikeb

    I went to a Catholic school and got the “cuts” on a fairly regular basis – from both religious and lay teachers. It was always pretty fair & deserved in my case so the pain went quickly and to be sure it influenced future behaviour for the better. The problem happens when you get rogue (by far the minority) teachers who are sadists and who often single out kids for special attention. I did come across a couple over the years but they never bothered me in particular. It’s these rogues that mean that corporal punishment cannot be allowed in schools because the misery they cause is forever.

    I’ve since had three daughters which I’ve never felt the need to hit (apart from the lightest of pats – & even then rarely). It might have been different with boys because they respect strength & sometimes reasoned discussion just doesn’t work. Even in the latter cases you can’t delegate this discipline & unfortunately yet again you can’t trust all parents to be fair and reasonable. Can you legislate against corporal punishment? Well yes certainly in schools, but no in a practical sense at home.

  7. Malcolm Hutton

    In 1947 my Grade 7 Primary School teacher was Mr George (known, but not to his face, as Alfie) whose theory of education was that if you got three wrong out of twenty in the spelling test each morning, you were naughty, and therefore deserved the cuts – three, delivered with his trusty cane. Being a naturally good speller I never bothered to study for the test, and came unstuck only once. A number of boys were naturally poor spellers and suffered often. He was obliged to stop the practice when he misfired one day and hit a boys wrist instead of fingers, and the parent complained. But that might have been merely a brief pause. Had my son, who never misspelt a word the same way twice, but often misspelled words, been in that class he would have been scarred for like – psychologically. He is now a successful engineer – thank good ness he was schooled in a different era, and despite Dr Donelly we aren’t like to return to what Alfie’s educational theory was.

  8. Dogs breakfast

    Corporal punishment in schools is a disgrace, always was, even if used judiciously and (cough) fairly.

    It is bullying, no ifs, no buts, no maybes. It is a low act, the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    I didn’t get the cuts that often, but watching others being joyfully whipped by psychopaths teachers left a lasting and scarring impression on me.

    I’d happily apply 6 of the best to Dr Donnelly for being an imbecile.

    Banning corporal punishment has saved me the trouble of going to my children’s school and beating the crap out of any teacher who touched my children.

    It is nobody’s right to hit a child, ever, period, full stop. Parent, teacher, whatever. Never, never, never.

  9. Chris Hartwell

    Like you mikeb, I went to a catholic school. The cane was visibly present in the principal’s office (this only 15 years ago, in Qld) but was never used in the time I was there, even for fighting infractions (of which I got a number)

    Then again, this was a catholic school ostensibly run by nuns who were all dismissive of young earth creationism as being silly and inconsistent with what science has determined, yet had lay teachers who were convinced D&D was going to teach me how to invoke the powers of darkness (and cast magic missile) so it may be an outlier.

  10. Liamj

    I’m sure Mr Donnelly is no hypocrite, and so I look forward to the publication of his KPI’s and a subsequent public flogging should he fail to live up to them.

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