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In Theory: Corporal punishment in schools

May 15, 2010|By Michael J. Arvizu

It's the 21st century. Gone are the days of teachers wielding rulers and wooden paddles in order to discipline misbehaving students. Or are they? A man in Dallas is pushing the local school district to bring back corporal punishment. A former tutor in the Dallas Independent School District, Gilbert Leal argues that the threat of corporal punishment — along with better classroom management and training teachers how to defuse situations — have "helped decrease disciplinary problems," according to a story published by Dallas' WFAA-TV. What do you think? Is corporal punishment on its way in again? And does it really work? Or are we taking a step backward in the discipline of our children? In what situations is corporal punishment appropriate, if at all?

The practice of spanking or paddling disruptive students in the classrooms was discontinued because educators found that "discipline by humiliation and pain" was not a productive method of dealing with these children. Let's not go backward with Gilbert Leal's argument of the "threat of corporal punishment."

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What is the solution? Are there methods that lead to a better way of handling this situation? Yes, the teachers need order in their classrooms, in which the present student-teacher ratio is overwhelming.

From all that I have been told by colleagues who are educators and from what the media has reported, creative steps such as smaller classrooms with teaching assistants available in the classroom to assist the main instructor have helped. Also, isolating the "troublesome" students who exhibit disruptive behavior has helped. By "isolating," I mean that they receive one-on-one attention. There is an effort to get at the root of their emotional outbursts.

It seems to me that this is a team, parental and a community effort. The team model is within the school system; the parental effort is to become involved with the child and help take responsibility for their behavior in school; community effort involves volunteers who will help with tutoring and offer to be part of the support system in spending time with the student (maybe in a sport or social activity).

The spiritual support is to affirm that everyone will hold an open mind and a "listening mind" in being receptive to divine wisdom, love, justice and peace. To quote one of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer: "There is always a spiritual solution to every problem."

THE REV. JERI LINN

Unity Church of the Valley in Montrose

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