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Monday, June 27, 2011

Corporal Punishment: A Cultural Adjustment

The first day at our school sites we went over our school discipline plan. It seemed pretty standard--similar to most schools that I have been in. Then our school director made a comment that completely threw me off guard. "At our school we do not use corporal punishment." Wait, what? You have to be joking. Corporal punishment? 

It turns out that my school was in the minority for not allowing corporal punishment. This was a huge surprise to me. I am showing my cultural ignorance here, but I can tell you that it never even occurred to me that corporal punishment was still acceptable in schools.

After a moment of shock, I put it out of my head and stuck with the relief that our school did not take part in this practice.

Well this thought and this issue is back. Some of my fellow CMs have seen children being beaten in their schools (though in all times it was not by the school). This is an idea that for me, is hard to stomach. I was talking with others in my CMA group and realized how much of a cultural issue this is. It is not an issue of educated/ uneducated, good school/ bad school, it is a cultural belief. My friends who grew up in areas near the delta were surprised that we were so concerned with corporal punishment and I was equally surprised how comfortable they were with it.

This is an issue that will not go away for me. I am glad that it is not a school-policy in my school because I can guarantee you that I would not be able to send a child to the office. I just couldn't. It is against my beliefs. Some of the Delta CMAs and FAs have said that it is a practice that you get used to, but I really do not know if I could.

Our school does not, however, stop parents from physically punishing their children in the school building. This had not happened to me yet, but a few CMs at our school and other schools have experienced times when they were aware of a child being physically punished. In one instance a child was hit with a belt in front of his entire class and teachers. I do believe in parental rights, but I give a lot of credit to these CMs for handling this. It really makes me sick to even think about this. I also realize that this is an issue and topic that I have to work through. It is something I am against, but I am not naive enough to think that I can change the beliefs of thousands of people in several states. I think that is where the locus of control that TFA preaches comes into play.

This issue also led me to start thinking about how I am going to deal with the different cultural practices of my students. I have been so focused on the idea of a language barrier that I have almost forgotten about the differences in culture that I will inevitably experience.

Sorry for rambling. This is something that has been in the back of my mind since Friday and I needed to write it out. Consider me humbled, shocked, and cultured.

A little "research" or "Google-ing" of the issue:


Nashville is one of the states in which corporal punishment is still legal. It is against district policy in the school I am teaching in, but again, many of the surrounding areas allow it.

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