I turn to the speech of Senator Garret FitzGerald and he said quite reasonably that it was for me, on my side of the debate, to show that corporal punishment can be done without. I shall try to satisfy him on that point. I should first like to quote a letter in The Times of London dated November 11th, 1965, signed by the headmaster of a Jewish school in London.
He says, in relation to corporal punishment:
Caning is an indignity for the child as well as for the teacher who administers it and too frequently is not efficacious.
In the Rosh Pinah Jewish Day School, of which I have the honour to be Principal, corporal punishment is unknown and no lack of discipline results. Generally speaking one can, over a period of time, create a climate of happy discipline, which obviates the treating of children as some ignorant people treat the lower animals.
In the Scandinavian countries, and in France—about which I know a fair amount—it is found possible throughout the whole educational system to abolish corporal punishment altogether. Even the Les Fréres de la Doctrine Chrétienne in France and their counterparts in Italy teach there effectively without recourse to corporal punishment. How can this be? If corporal punishment can be done without by this teaching order in France and Italy, why is it necessary in Ireland? Is it because Irish children have a greater dose of original sin, or is it because Irish teachers have a greater dose of original sin? Why is it necessary here, if it can be done without in the Scandinavian countries and in France?
I will say this also, to come nearer to home. In Ireland, as Senators know, some of the teaching orders—and by no means the least effective ones— never use corporal punishment. I would regard this as a central proof that it can effectively be done without by the others. I should like to quote Fr. O'Doherty, Professor of Psychology in University College, Dublin, who was quoted by Michael Viney lately as saying—I will paraphrase but, essentially, this is what he said: No person who willingly inflicts pain upon a child can be considered civilised.
That is the opinion of the Professor of Psychology in University College, Dublin. It does not necessarily mean we have to accept that without question but it does mean that we have to see it as being in favour of the dropping or modification of the application of corporal punishment in our schools.
I should like to cite the case of a boy-he is now a young man-whom I questioned on a previous occasion when I was inquiring in all directions as to the extent of corporal punishment in schools—and I knew he was a boy who had been in a primary and secondary school of a well-known teaching order. I asked him if corporal punishment extended to the secondary school level and he said: "Yes." I said: "Up to what class?" He said: "Up to the Leaving Certificate form." This was a boy who got 75 per cent in Leaving Certificate Honours in chemistry and physics. I asked him further how many were in the class and he replied "30". I then asked what age were they and he replied: "About 17½." I asked how many approximately would be beaten on an average? He paused and said: "About ten per week". These were senior boys in a relatively small class going up for Leaving Certificate Honours. I asked him another question: "Were there any Brothers who did not use corporal punishment?" He said: "There were two who never laid a finger on us." I asked if they were any use, and he replied: "Ah, the best."
Again, I regard this as an argument showing that it is not necessary in Ireland to have corporal punishment as commonly applied as it is in our schools. Just one final point about that particular boy which struck me: he was a lightearted, intelligent and cheerful person, and yet when he was answering these questions—and in fact the only time I ever saw it happen— he was trembling with hatred. I feel that this is not a normal condition for a boy; he had left the school two or three years before that occasion, when he was asked a number of questions about his schooling. Yet he was apparently still filled with hatred.
In further answer to Senator Garret FitzGerald's question as to whether it could be shown that corporal punishment could be done away with, a Yorkshire survey, the West Riding of Yorkshire, again as illustrated by Michael Viney, showed, in a detailed survey on schools which had given up corporal punishment, that there was no question but that discipline improved and the delinquency figures diminished after the abolition of corporal forms of punishment.
I should like to make one final quotation. It is from a book in the Library downstairs called The Challenge of the Retarded Child. It is by a nun—Sr. Mary Theodore, OSF, published in 1964, and this is one of the things she says:
Unless discipline becomes self-discipline, it has little permanent value. The attempt to forestall misbehaviour through fear of punishment will not help the child to control his conduct when the threat is removed.
That seems to me a very balanced statement. I refer Senators to the book, which is in our own Library downstairs.
So in answer to Senator Garret FitzGerald's question of whether or not corporal punishment can be done without, I suggest that it can, for those six reasons I have given; and they are examples of why I think it can be done without, and fruitfully done without.
Senator Garret FitzGerald also asked the Minister why the rules in regard to corporal punishment had been changed, and the answer he got from the Minister was a pretty dusty one, I am afraid. The answer was that the Minister is proud of his "positive approach"—and the word is his—to the new rules. I should like now to do what perhaps I should have done before. I should like to quote side by side the old rules and the new rules so that they may be on record. I shall quote first of all from section 3 of Rule 95 of the old rules. It reads:
To evince a regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils; to treat them with kindness, combined with firmness; and to aim at governing them by their affections and reason, rather by harshness and severity.
Rule 96 of the old Rules reads:
(1) Corporal punishment should be administered only for grave transgressions. In no circumstances should corporal punishment be administered for mere failure at lessons.
(2) Only the principal teacher, or such other member of the staff as may be duly authorised by the manager for the purpose, should inflict corporal punishment.
(3) Only a light cane or rod may be used for the purpose of corporal punishment which should be inflicted only on the open hand. The boxing of children's ears, the pulling of their hair or similar ill-treatment is absolutely forbidden and will be visited with sever penalties.
(4) No teacher should carry about a cane or other instrument of punishment.
(5) Frequent recourse to corporal punishment will be considered by the Minister as indicating bad tone and ineffective discipline.
Those were the old Rules. The new Rule, number 130 at page 74 reads as follows:
(1) Teachers should have a lively regard for the improvement and general welfare of their pupils, treat them with kindness combined with firmness and should aim at governing them through their affections and reason and not by harshness and severity. Ridicule, sarcasm or remarks likely to undermine a pupil's self-confidence should be avoided.
(2) Corporal punishment should be administered only in cases of serious misbehaviour and should not be administered for mere failure at lessons.
(3) Corporal punishment should be administered only by the principal teacher or other member of the school staff authorised by the manager for the purpose.
(4) Any teacher who inflicts improper or excessive punishment will be regarded as guilty of conduct unbefitting a teacher and will be subject to severe disciplinary action.
Having quoted one after the other the old and the new Rule, I should like to make the point that in the new Rule there are, in fact, five sentences in all. Four of these sentences are negative in effect, I think, and the other is already there in the old Rules as I have quoted them. Five sentences, four are negative and one positive, and that one is already in the old Rule. What becomes, therefore, of the Minister's plea that the change in the Rules represents a "new" positive approach? He has five sentences. One is positive, and it was already in the old Rule and the other four are negative. I regard his defence of the change as eyewash.
Senator FitzGerald was perfectly right on another point he made, in regard to parent-teacher associations, which I should like to see evolving, about crankiness on the part of some parents being dealt with in practive by parental public opinion. That is the best way to deal with it. It does not, in fact, provide a problem. The mere fact that there is an occasional crank or crackpot does not mean you must not allow teachers and parents to come together. It makes it easier because the parents themselves will deal with unreasonable parents.
Senator FitzGerald made very strongly the point that parents should be encouraged to come into the schools. I should like to read the new Rule 13 on page 11. Section 1 reads thus:
Any person may, with the manager's permission, visit a national school during school hours for the purpose of observing the ordinary working of the school, but such visitor may not interfere with the business of the school or divert the attention of the teachers or pupils from their work.
The old Rule 3 on page 9 was:
The teachers should receive visitors courteously and afford them an opportunity of observing the ordinary working of the school.
There is here again a significant change in the Rule. Previously the parents could go freely to the schools provided they did not disturb the work. Now they can go only with the manager's permission. I asked the Minister for an explanation of this change, but I did not get any answer on the point.
I want to turn now to the speech made by Senator McAuliffe. He suggested that I was bound to raise this question at the very first opportunity and so on, and apparently he was disappointed that I was not elected to the Seanad the last time. He felt in a sense—perhaps I am being unjust— that they had wasted their time in getting Senator Brosnahan in here to answer me when I was not here to be answered. We are both here today, I am glad to say. I think the Senator will do this justice to me: I want to point out that on July 28th and 29th I spoke—and not briefly—on the Appropriation Bill and I mentioned education. I spoke about the Minister's plans and about the Minister himself. I gave him a great deal of praise, and though in one passage I did mention corporal punishment, it certainly was not the major portion of what I said. I should like to feel—but I am not innocent enough to believe it—that the Minister might have read what I said then, because certainly what I said was very much in favour of what the new Minister said in his speech on the Estimate in the Dáil.
I come now, however, to Senator McAuliffe's reference to my "attacks on national school teacher". I do not think I attack or have attacked national school teachers. I recognise that teachers are caught between the upper and the nether millstone, the upper millstone being the managers above them, and the nether millstone being the overcrowded classes under their charge. I have said again and again that I recognise that the vast majority of teachers do not maltreat their students. For instance, on 19th April, 1956, as reported at column 1950 of the Official Report, I said:
These are extreme cases. I have never suggested that this type of case is the rule. But I am satisfied that the extreme cases show a background, a general pattern, of beating for minor offences, that is to say, not grave transgressions, and I suggest that that goes on to the certain knowledge of most of the parents of the country in far too many schools, and that it applies to girls as well as to boys.
On June 30th, 1955, as reported at column 105, I said:
...when any protest or criticism is made of beating in schools, one sees an unhappy "closing of the ranks", and unfortunately, the good teacher who, I am convinced, is in the big majority, feels bound to defend the transgressors from a sort of false sense of loyalty.
That is my attitude towards teachers. The good teacher is in the vast majority. That is what I have said all along. I do not like to be credited with making a kind of all-out and indiscriminate attack upon the teaching profession. In fact, on 30th June, 1955, when I raised this on the Adjournment as reported at column 100 of the Official Report, I said:
In relation to the teachers, I know that the teachers themselves are uneasy about the whole question of corporal punishment, that the National Conference of the INTO had several resolutions down calling for the abolition of corporal punishment in primary schools—and indeed I think that in that direction lies perhaps the best solution.
My sympathy goes to the teacher. I myself am a teacher; I am the son of teachers, and I do not want anything I say subsequently to be taken as a sort of general attack upon the teaching profession.
These three quotations I think should suffice to indicate that I am not making a slashing and all-out attack on the teachers for the situation in relation to corporal punishment in our schools.
I quote one final passage from the Seanad debate of June 30th, 1955, when I said at column 105:
I should like to ask also what is the teacher to do? We know that they are teaching sometimes close on 60 to 70 children in overcrowded conditions. We know that many of them are under-trained teachers. We know that most of them are underpaid. We know that there are no recreational facilities for the children. That is all very true, but is this the fault of the children of six and upwards in the schools? Why should these children pay for neglect of duty by the Department, by the Minister, by society, by all of us, and pay dearly for it, in terms of pain and fear and tears?
I think I have demonstrated therefore that Senator McAuliffe was less than just when he accuses me of making constant attacks on national teachers. Clearly I did not make general attacks on national teachers, and I never have.
Senator McAuliffe thinks it is a slur on or an insult to the teacher to say: "Do not box this child's ear or pull his hair". I would ask him to consider whether it is an insult, for instance, to the country folk to say: "Do not make poteen". Is it an insult to a factory to say: "Do not have insanitary premises or unsafe machines"? Do they feel offended if we pass legislation and post up rules for safety regulations in factories? Is it an insult to a motorist to say: "Do not drink" or "Do not exceed 30 miles an hour in a built-up area"? No insult is involved; no slur is intended and the same applies to rules for school discipline.
Senator McAuliffe also referred to "Constance O'Connell type of propaganda". Propaganda is properly defined, I think, in the American phrase, as "The other side put so well that it makes you mad". What in fact have Mr. and Mrs. O'Connell, and the School Children's Protection Association which they helped to found, done? What they did primarily, and the major impact and import of their work, was quite simply to make the Rules widely known to the parents. They have said all along—and I differ from them in degree—that all they wanted was the application of the Rules. They did not want abolition. They made the Rules widely known to parents, and this is regarded by some as not merely making the Rules widely known but necessarily also making it widely known that the Rules were being widely broken. Therefore it seemed to be concluded that since now the Rules were known and it was now widely known that they were being broken, the only action the Minister could take was to have the Rules changed. If only the School Children's Protection Organisation and Mr. and Mrs. O'Connell had kept quiet, then the Rules need not have been changed, because though they were in fact being broken with impunity but most parents would have been none the wiser.
The strap, under the new dispensation, is now permitted, and its use need no longer be confined to the hand. I do not know whether the Seanad have seen the strap, the sort of current article, but I have one of them here and I do not know whether the House would consider it a dangerous instrument or not.