Around 12:30 p.m. Oct. 15 in a middle school classroom in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, a teacher approached a female student and asked her what she was writing in her notebook.
When the teacher tried to take the notebook, the student protested. The teacher hit her on the head and the student revolted, saying, “Is it right for a teacher to hit a student? Just teach!”
The student tried to leave the classroom but the teacher grabbed her neck and hair to force her to sit down. The student then grabbed the teacher’s hair.
An official at the education office said, “What teachers want most is alternatives to corporal punishment,” adding, “We will encourage implementing alternatives next week at the earliest.”
Aside from the fact that these problems occurred before the ban and stories are plentiful of large students beating their smaller teachers, this is a natural process of adjustment. There is a culture of violence in classrooms that relied on a mixture of affection and abuse to “control” students. New bans on corporal punishment are, thus, causing great consternation for teachers who relied on this method.
Schools need to provide better training and options for handling difficult students. One idea that some schools have implemented are “reflection rooms”. A mix of positive and negative engagement is probably best. The best way to improve student behavior is to engage them as individuals. Give them choice in their studies, projects, and interactions in the classroom. Respect their contributions. Of course, there are always going to be those who will not respond to this treatment (and teachers who are unable to do so for reasons of skill or simply oppressive teaching conditions and requirements). For those, more punitive measures may be more (at least immediately) effective. Detention, suspension, expulsion, labor (cleaning, volunteering), extra homework, seclusion, and removing of freedoms/opportunities discussed above are all possibilities.
Above was my measured response, and this is my emotional response. If you hit your student, you should not be a teacher. In fact, you should be arrested and charged with child abuse. Teachers who cling to these outdated, brutal classroom management techniques would be comfortable as prison camp guards, as their approaches are more akin to this profession than education. Those who cry that they cannot control their classroom without this brutality should ask themselves whether it is worth it? Is it worth torturing your students to help them? I hope that sounds as silly to you as it does to me.