It would be very nice if schools could be carried on without punishments. But I am afraid it cannot be done. The only way to make some boys obey rules and do their work is to make disobedience and laziness uncomfortable. Punishment of some kind is a necessary part of training; and if their faults were not corrected, children would grow up to be savages. As the wise King Solomon said, “Spare the rod and spoil the child”.
At the same time, school punishments are sometimes too harsh, and sometimes they do little good because they are not made to fit the different kinds of faults. In the old days, there was only one kind of punishment, namely caning. Whatever the fault, the remedy was the cane. If a boy was late, the cane; if he talked in class, the cane; if he did not do his homework, the cane; if he could not answer a question, the cane; if he was absent without leave the cane. In fact, caning was so common, that many got used to it, and cared little for it.
Caning is the best kind of punishment for some offenses, and there are some boys that one can do nothing with unless one now and then gives them a good thrashing. But it should be kept for the worst school-crimes, and not given often. There are other punishments that will have more effect, and different faults should have different punishments. For example, if a boy is always coming late to school, punish him by making him stay after school is over. If a boy does his home exercise carelessly; teach him a lesson by making him write it out carefully ten or twenty times. If he spoils or loses library books, don’t allow him to use the library for a month. In the old dames’ schools, a lazy boy who did not know his lesson was made to stand on a bench before the whole class with a dunce’s cap on his head: and for some offenses, to make a boy the laughing-stock of his fellow scholars is not a bad punishment.
But whatever punishment is given, its aim must not be simply to make a boy suffer but to make him a better boy.