March 28, 2012
My father never hit any of his kids. His reasoning was thus: if I have to resort to physical strength, I am demonstrating that this young mind is better than mine, that I cannot outsmart someone of such tender years. I have never found a rational like that in anything I have read, though others have come to the same conclusion through different paths. Here is one that impressed me lately, from the Roman teacher, orator and writer, Quintilion.
"A very pertinent question now arises. What place, if any, should corporal punishment hold in the school ? Quintilian is quite decided in his answer. "As for corporal punishment, though it is a recognised practice. I am completely opposed to it … first because it is disgusting, fit only for slaves and undoubtedly an insult . . . in the next place, because a pupil whose mind so ill befits a free man's son as not to be corrected by reproof, will remain obdurate even. in face of blows—like the vilest of slaves : and finally because there will be no need of such chastisement if there is always somebody present to diligently supervise the pupil's studies . . . If you coerce the child when he is young by means of blows, what will you do when he is a young man who cannot be compelled through fear and has many more important things to learn?" (Institutio, Book I, c. 2, quoted in A Short History of Educational Ideas, Curtis and Boultwood, University Tutorial Press, London, 1953, p. 60)