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LIVERPOOL'S Christian Fellowship School wants to see a return of corporal punishment to British schools. They cite the Bible as sanctioning the smacking of misbehaving children.

I know things have gone the other way in state schools and these days lawyer-filled limousines will crash through the school gates with writs if a teacher utters the word boo in a loud voice.

Teachers do need to have some sanctions at their disposal to avoid things getting out of hand.

But I learned at an early age that a teacher could be called Jekyll or Hyde depending on whether he, or she, was armed with a bamboo cane.

In my days at junior school, we were all required to line up in the school yard like little tin soldiers and then march into battle, or rather the classroom.

On one occasion, three young guys close to me were chatting, ignoring the order to stand to attention.

The irate teacher, with angry bulging eyes, marched like a regimental sergeant major to the back of the line and ordered the three of them, and me, to the front.

All four of us were to be paraded on to the school stage and caned in front of the assembly. I mean, they did not even bother to ask what they were talking about, it could well have been something educationally constructive.

The three took their punishments like men.

I explained to the teacher that I had not been talking and could not oblige him by allowing him to cane me.

Such insolence from an 11-year-old was met with even more rage. I would, he told me, be given a double helping.

Well, that is where he and I parted company. I explained that I would not be punished for something I hadn't done and would go home. Which I did. I am not sure of the aftermath, as the whole episode was never mentioned again.

Years later I went to another school as a reporter and heard this angry-sounding teacher screaming at the kids. Guess what, it was the self same double for Adolf, still with his silly little moustache.

Why should a teacher have such power, being accuser, judge, jury and executioner?

That is not permitted in the adult version of so-called justice, so why allow that degree of autonomous authority to be handed to an individual, such as a teacher?

At the same school, there were teachers who commanded, rather than demanded, respect.

I hope this week the House of Lords sends the Christian Fellowship School packing, ordering them to dispatch their canes to the school dungeon.

It is obscene to allow an adult such a level of power over a young child. Apart from that, the real school bullies delighted in being punished.

It did wonders for their kudos in the school yard -- and enhanced their status.
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 29, 2004
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