Appearance on Radio 5 Live Steve Nolan Show

6 August 2008

Appeared as a guest speaker on the Steve Nolan show, talking about the recent case where a seven-year-old child was put into a naughty room with his parents’ permission at his primary school. When the parents learnt what had happened, they went ballistic, complaining that the school had infringed upon their child’s rights and psychologically damaged him by putting him in such a room for a few minutes without an adult to supervise him. I said the parents were over-reacting and that teachers should be able to discipline children without having to check everything with the parents. I complained that, on the whole, teachers were too frightened of parents complaining and should instead have the courage of their convictions. What children needed were firm boundaries and guidelines, and a sense that the teachers were in charge, and weren’t going to be contradicted by their parents.

The phone-in then degenerated into a now familiar discussion of bring back the cane’. I argued vociferously against this, pointing out that corporal punishment only breeds violence. However, I did argue for more emphasis on the notion of authority in schools: pupils should open doors for pupils, perhaps even serve them dinner, be aware of their superior position as pedagogues. Children need this as much as teachers: chaos ensues when there’s a sense that no one is in charge. The show ended with lots of older people phoning in talking about the times when they were caned, locked in cupboards, humiliated, had chalk thrown at them and so on. I left at half past midnight, feeling very tired indeed. It was the first day of the holidays though!’

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