Without a paddle.


Let me be very clear: I am not planning to, do not want to, will never, and don’t agree with corporal punishment in schools. Aside from the fact I would lose my job, I don’t think it’s remotely okay for personnel at schools to be associated with paddling students.

Glad we got that out of the way.

What I’m talking about, though, is desperation.

Like many controversial topics, two heated sides flare up over extremes of right and wrong. The Temple, Texas school district is considering bringing back the ‘paddle.’ And I would like to ask, if it worked so well before, why did ‘we’ get rid of its use? Because it didn’t work, that’s why. One thing really jumped out at me in the article, and that was the disproportionate use of paddling for children who have psychological behavioral issues and, or are male. Boys.

Boys get paddled more.

Which tells me when a teacher has lost control, (which I understand, and do not throw rocks at glass whiteboards), and it’s the desperation and exasperation that dictates there is no other option. When corporal punishment is metered out at that juncture, it’s already too late.

I’m also not suggesting that parents start spanking children. Child-rearing experts agree this isn’t okay for a multitude of reasons. It takes so much patience, consistency, and sheer will to raise a child. And when said child is a toddler, it’s like trying to reason with a drunken goat. I made mistakes as a parent, all parents do. But here’s what I’m suggesting: read. Yes. Read. (There is hardly a problem I can’t solve with books.)

There are so many great parenting magazines and books out there. Many of them will make a new parent dizzy from all of the advice. But why aren’t parents reading baby and child rearing books anymore? Or, is it just an elite few of suburban moms who go on-line and blog about their babies? Who make each other feel guilty over trifling child-rearing issues? But some of those parents create a spoiled, entitled brat too. So, perhaps there are many factors why parents aren’t seeking parenting guidance: Maybe they can’t read as well as they’d like, or don’t have time or access to public libraries, language barriers, or they leave their consistent parenting skills when they go to work in the less-than-capable hands of a boyfriend who watches the baby (and there are some tragic stories about this scenario, more than I care to name).

Many of my students have to parent themselves. And since I don’t see any real change coming in the socio-economic statuses of the good people of our nation, rich or poor, this may be a call for substantial early childhood education. Since parents don’t seem up to the task of raising their babies and toddlers with consistent love and firm guidance, perhaps the state can?

Nothing replaces a mommy’s or daddy’s lap during story time. Nothing replaces a mother’s look of happiness or disapproval when her child is checking for reactions to behavior.

How about we decide, as a nation, as a society, to help young parents more, give them the time they need to learn how to parent, how to protect, how to guide, and how to nuture their children, and add more early-childhood education? If going back to the paddle is one of the options that’s still on the table, then we are failing.

Teachers and parents: If you know a young parent who may be struggling, offer help. My dad always said parenting is the toughest job in the world given to amateurs.



PS Thanks, Betty’s Blog, too: http://bettyb.teacherlingo.com/archive/2010/04/18/bringing-paddling-back.aspx

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