Naughty — or Inquisitive?
The inherent naughtiness of children! Heavens above, do teach-ers really believe such rubbish? Evidently so, for the phrase comes from a letter you print and Mr. Tomkins, a head, no less, writing a two-page article, says it is "in the nature of children to be mischie-vous." Do they really think that the child is already naughty or mischievous as it emerges from the womb? I doubt it. What they probably mean is the inherent inquisitiveness of children which pro-vides the fundamental drive to learning. Part of this learning is de-rived from the testing-out of adults with whom the child comes into contact, and unfortunately the pressures of society often make adults impatient or selfish or even, occasionally, sadistic in their respons-es. Inquisitiveness becomes frustrated or distorted into naughtiness (in the eyes of adults, though not necessarily those of the child), The prime function of school should be to nurture, and where necessary, restore inquisitiveness to its fullest vigour; but how can we achieve that with woolly formulations about "naughtiness" ? Actually, I think that such woolliness is often the product of teach-ers' refusal to face up squarely to the basic question relevent to disci-pline in London schools: namely, "to cane or not to cane? " So long as the cane is available, even if only as a last resort, to extract obedience through fear, discussion of alternative policies must remain ham-strung. The learning of complex skills, leadership and the ability to use initiative is not taught through the cane. Caning has ceased even in the Navy's boy training establishments — they found that corporal punishment did not work. Yet some teachers — including correspon-dents to "Contact" — want it restored in London's junior schools. Maybe someone would explain to me why London teachers lag some years behind our military men in this matter, and 190 years behind the Poles, who abolished corporal punishment in schools in 1783. Charles...
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