Having a chat with my 6-year-old daughter in the car one morning, on our way to school, she asked “Hey mum! What was your school like?”
This question had me delve into a childhood memory, which I had long since forgotten about. Our classrooms weren’t as brightly coloured and filled with fun things to do as hers. She then asked, “Was it boring?”
To a certain extent, it was, compared to what she is currently surrounded by. I too attended a public school but systems were quite different in comparison. As the conversation continued, I told her how girls were spanked with rulers on their hands and boys on their bottoms. How, at her age, my hand would burn and sting from the hiding of a ruler. Then, when I was older like her teenage brothers, we were given a hiding with a cane…
She didn’t have too much to say about that and just went quiet. Then she said, “If we are naughty, we have to walk around with the duty teacher“. I asked her if this felt like punishment or something that wasn’t nice to do? Her response “I don’t know. I’m not naughty“. I smiled at this and thought “Good girl!“.
Our upbringing is so different and this is the decision we made when we decided to emigrate. Discipline is handled so differently in our new country, compared to when I was a child.
When I think about those beatings, I remember the fear rising up inside of me at what was to come. It wasn’t that I was a naughty child either but in those days most things got you into trouble. For example, I remember one of our teachers didn’t come to class for that period. With no adult presence, needless to say, the kids were making a noise. A teacher from the next class walked in with a cane told us all to stand and hold out our hands. The noise level had obviously gotten too much for her, disrupting her own class. All the kids in my class immediately went quiet at this point and did as they were told. She then proceeded to give each child two strikes on the hand and with such force too, obviously taking out her pent-up anger on us.
The burn is what you feel first, followed immediately by a throbbing pain in the bone and an almost numbing feeling pushing up your arm. You sit down and “lick your wounds” as tears sting your eyes and threaten to spread over your cheeks. No-one dares cry though because it’s just uncool.
When she was done, a class of about 30 kids were reduced to a quiet, where you could literally hear a pin drop. She walked out and didn’t say a word.
Do I think this form of discipline is good…? Most definitely not. I do, however, believe that kids need discipline. These are values, which shape us as individuals and having a society of kids who say and do just what they want, is also not ideal.
In saying that though, I’m relieved that my kids will never be subjected to such form of discipline. The thought thereof, or any form of pain being inflicted on them, is unbearable, to say the least.
If I were to engage in a conversation with my daughter about what my school was like again, I would most probably concentrate on the good. All the things that made being at school worthwhile…the things that made me happy and the friendships that I made. I think if she knew at this age what our discipline was like, it would probably give her nightmares.
I’m thankful for the changes time has brought…