Spare the rod and save the child

Roger Scott writes: Re. “Crikey Clarifier: can a teacher smack your kid?” (yesterday).  It was on my watch as Director-General of Education of Queensland in 1989 that teachers in state schools ceased to use corporal punishment. This was taking a lead from Victoria and in turn followed by South Australia, while I remember that NSW were tinkering with the Donnelly formula of letting school communities decide. Those like me who regard corporal punishment as legitimating violence against children were reminded at the time that this was not a popular change, especially in a Cabinet where products of Catholic schools were in a majority. I was reliably informed that the wife of the premier helped overcome the recalcitrants. The final outcome did not eliminate legal ambiguity, as indicated in Crikey, and some non-government schools continued to exercise their right to exact revenge and retribution on children. Given the general shift to the right among the dominant political class, I must confess to having a sinking feeling of deja vu.

John Cooper, retired school principal writes:  What’s this — bashing kids because we can’t figure out why they don’t conform to second-rate lessons where we rank and embarrass them day after day, leading everyone except the top to be a failure. When we label them as low-grade students, I think they keep that level in their minds for life.  “I get it — I am a “C” kid in English and a “D” at maths. But I was “A” at cricket … ”
Education has gone missing as we hasten to test and test. The pig never got any fatter by being weighed more often. It’s just that teachers are now so busy assessing and having courses approved they have little time for quality lessons and very little captivating, interesting work in the classroom. It’s the pasture — the environment, the relationship, the quality lessons, the real learning — that matters, not regurgitated information. Throw in a bit of fun and freedom and some time for teaching/learning and you’ll have schools that kids want to attend. So sad to hear that educators want to bash kids. I’d like to bash them!

On BDS and stolen property

Thomas Richman writes: Re. “Jake Lynch: my year of fighting anti-Semitism charges” (yesterday). What really gets to me is the double standard of most BDS promoters, in that they would condemn Israel — a small, democratic albeit flawed country — to oblivion, without first imposing the same, if not more, economic pressure on nations with much worse track records when it comes to human rights. This especially applies to the issue of stolen land: It takes lots of chutzpah for non-First Australians to point a scolding finger at anyone else on this matter, when our whole continent has been stolen no less than that of the Palestinians. The same for Right of Return where, if carried to its logical conclusion, BDS ideology would have Indigenous Australians rightfully and ironically taking back their equally stolen property. Carrying this line of thought even further, why not a BDS of all Australian  manufactured goods or cultural events? Or for the same reason, US made goods since these were most likely put together or grown on land stolen from its own indigenous population. To all the BDS purists still out there, don’t forget to write your letters to the editor on neither Apple nor Microsoft computers as there is a very good chance that each one of those brands’ flash drives and operating systems were designed on a kibbutz just outside of Tel Aviv.

Peter Fray

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