Spare the Cane and Spoil the Child by Sudam Panigrahi

Part of the series: Global Issues in Education (India)

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‘Spare the rod/cane and spoil the child.’ This is an old adage that has lost its relevance as time has changed. The adage has lost its relevance and adherence because people realized that caning only impairs proper development of a student. With time, the culture and social outlook of people have also changed. Regrettably, the change is not uniform. In Indian society there are so many people who follow the above policy religiously, and as a result, no dearth of teachers follow this policy.
Many teachers resort to corporal punishment while teaching. In many states corporal punishment is illegal, but the outlook cannot be changed by statutory legislation. A teacher should have a broad outlook and should fit like water in any environment. It is rightly said that when a teacher ceases to learn, one fails to be a teacher. Teaching is a process of learning and teachers should understand this. However, we should not forget that the teachers are the product of society, as we cannot raise teachers especially in a secluded environment. However, once one wants to be a teacher, one should change accordingly.
Teaching is a process that develops the brain of a child to know what is right and what is wrong. A teacher is a writer who is there to write on the clean slate of a child’s mind. Once the slate dries up, the writing cannot be omitted. So a teacher should write carefully on the slate of a child’s mind. The role of teachers in society is vital as they are there to produce quality human resources for the future development of a nation.
Very often, it is seen that teachers lose their control and resort to caning to those students who fail to answer some questions. In reality, they are to be blamed for the inability of a student to answer. When a student is said to be dull, it is the fault of the teacher, as he or she failed to develop the child properly. No doubt, all students cannot be the same but teachers should not show their partiality towards the brilliant students. Brilliant students pick up with amazing speed and much attention is not required to make them understand. Instead, special attention should be given to those students whom the teachers humiliate by calling dull, donkey, stupid, nonsense, etc. Humiliation only impairs the proper development of a child. And humiliation should not be a kind of punishment.
In India, students resorting to suicide is a common phenomenon. India will have to admit that there are some problems in our education system or the system of teaching. The behavior of teachers is vital and they should behave well with their students.
A question is raised in the minds of people about the necessity of corporal punishment. I think there is no need of any kind of punishment, either verbal or corporal. A dull student needs special attention and a special way of teaching. However, in our competitive society teachers fail to nurture them properly, as the teacher student ratio is not healthy. In India a teacher has to teach 50 students. In primary schools, there happen to be three teachers for five classes. This is really ridiculous. Administration should reduce the ratio so that a teacher can devote time to the dull students.
Teachers should consult the parents of the students and arrive to a conclusion. They should study the needs and problems of a dull student and deal with him or her accordingly. Caning is not a solution, but a means to further the problem for which a teacher resorts to caning.
A human being is not a guinea pig available for vigorous experiments. Education policy should be planned accordingly with vigorous deliberations. Courses should be prescribed according to the requirements of the time and not because a political establishment wants to further its programs of action. There should be independent bodies to prescribe courses.
student being cannedParents and teachers should meet regularly and parents should study the needs of their children. However, in Indian society this is not possible, as half of the students are first generation students. Their parents are unlettered and they cannot devote their time to their students, as they happen to earn their livelihood in an unorganized sector. In rural India, teachers are like god but sadly they don’t behave like gods. Very often in newspapers their demonic actions are reported and they sully the image of other teachers.
First of all, any Tom, Dick and Harry should not be a teacher. Teachers should be trained in recognized training institutions. Administration should pay them timely and adequately. There should be adequate numbers of schools and teachers. Then we can check the suicide of students and develop students properly.
Education should not suffer because of some errant teachers. The teacher’s performance should be evaluated carefully by independent bodies and strong action should be taken if teachers are found flouting norms of teaching. Teachers, first learn and don’t cease to learn then teachers can teach well. Society should remember educators for their fruitful contributions to the nation and not for becoming the cause of deaths of children and tears for families. Society cannot live without teachers, but teachers should not be a dictator or a fairytale demon reigning supreme. Education… Jai ho.
The End Corporal Punishment website is full of useful resources on the theme of corporal punishment.

History of the adage and its uses in other societies:

Se the sparath his gyrde [stick], he hatath his cild. [c 1000 Aelfric Homilies (1843) II. 324]
Salamon seide‥Qui parcit virge, odit filium. The Englich of this latyn is‥Who-so spareth the sprynge [switch], spilleth [ruins] his children.[1377 Langland Piers Plowman B. v. 41]
He that spareth the rod, the chyld doth hate. [1560 Nice Wanton A1V]
Spare the rod and spoyle the child. [1639 J. Clarke Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina 161]
‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ had not been abolished from the educational code fifty-five years back. [1876 I. Banks Manchester Man II. vii.]
This action [caning] was justified, as everything he did was justified, by reference to Scripture—‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’. [1907 E. Gosse Father & Son ii.]


Sudam Chandra Panigrahi resides in the state of Odisa, in the Eastern part of India. He is currently finishing a novel. You can read more about India on his blog, Pic Thrill or read his grammar tips on his blog, Share N Smile. You can also find him on Twitter as @sudam09.

How do you feel educators should manage classroom behavior problems?