Bring Back the Strap, Exercise 13, pp. 44-5
The following points help students identify the author’s key arguments/ideas and the reasoning and persuasive strategies implied by these key ideas. This helps students identify more insightfully the purpose of the author’s views/strategies. Please also see a list of useful analytical terms.
See this link for table/ comments /ideas and summaries
Ms Hally Snowden, p. 44.
Key argument/Views: Ms Snowden advocates the re-introduction of corporal punishment because it is an effective disciplinary tool in the classroom.
- Evidence: referring to the expert opinion of a government advisor, Dr Donnelly and his recent report and her own assumptions/opinions about class-room discipline
- Problem: unruly, undisciplined and ineffective classrooms: Solution: introduction of corporal punishment;
- Cause-and-effect: ban on corporal punishment leads to greater disruption in the classroom.
What persuasive/reasoning strategies are embedded in her main arguments?
- Reasoning strategies/ experts and comparisons: Ms Snowden reinforces her views by referring to Dr Donnelly and his credible, “first-hand” experience as a teacher and his authority and prestige as an educator. He, too, champions corporal punishment and criticises the alternatives such as “time-out” which only favour the unruly students. (Perversely, the system is discriminating against well-behaved children who want to learn: to create resentment)
- Critical description/depiction of students: Ms Snowden singles out the unruly and boisterous students in order to criticise the “time-out” methods, which she believes are counter-productive.
- Criticism of teachers: She also sets up the teachers for ridicule by suggesting, alliteratively, that “tough talk” and a “stern stare” are inadequate. She seeks to anger parents and teachers by suggesting that unruly students actually enjoy the break from studies. It is not a deterrent to disruptive behaviour.
- Persuasive strategies: appeals and values: Ms Snowden appeals to authority; respect and order in the classroom. She appeals to a student’s universal right to an education. Such appeals are used to justify corporal punishment and to shame students who jeopardise or undermine others’ rights.
- boisterous, unruly students “crying out for the strap”: (cliché; idiom; figurative language: characterisation; depiction of students
- stern stare and tough talk: alliteration to criticise the current system and to draw attention to need of other disciplinary methods (comparisons);
- “it’s about time”: “rewarded for bad behaviour”; indictment on a system that does not sufficiently penalise and correct the students
- “how does that add up?”: pun; rhetorical question and an accusatory tone…
Metalanguage: peremptory and accusatory tone; comparative depictions of models of discipline; expert references; clichés, idioms, emotive and alliterative terms; rebuke; condemn; decries; indictment of ; repetition;
Mr Tim Scott
Views and tone: Contrastingly, Mr Scott condemns corporal punishment and believes that it is a sadistic and unnecessary disciplinary tool.
Which reasoning and persuasive strategies are integral to his views?
- Evidence: he refers to his own first-hand experience: he was a victim of violence and “sadistic” trainee priests. He cites the evidence from the Education Minister to suggest that it should not be supported.
- combination of evidence to corroborate and to typify his personal experience;
- he draws upon the views/values of an expert in the Union (her advice contrasts to that of the government advisor; possibly owing to varied experience and exposure to traumatised children.)
Mr Scott relies on his personal experience as a traumatised five-year old child to condemn corporal punishment. He corroborates his experience with that of other children to more sharply criticise/isolate/marginalise sadistic teachers. Furthermore he appeals to role-modelling and leadership qualities to foreground the need for a caring and supporting school environment.
- Attack: The teachers are portrayed as sadistic and abusive. They exploit their power and often fail to control their anger.
- Appeals/ values: safe and protective environment; the rights of children to learn without fear; the duty of leaders to role-model peace; to refrain from violence
- Contrasting portrayals: He depicts his experiences as a five-year year old who was humiliated by his teachers. He suggests that it is abusive and he seeks to shock readers by the extent of the gratuitous violence. He elicits sympathy for the victims. Contrastingly, the teachers are portrayed as sadistic and abusive. They exploit their power and often fail to control their anger.
Updated paragraphs: note argument terminology
In a stern and resolute tone, Ms Snowden advocates the re-introduction of corporal punishment on the grounds that it is an effective disciplinary tool in the classroom. Her key points revolve around the recent comments of an educational adviser, Dr Donnelly, whose “first-hand” experience as a teacher lends credibility to her view that teachers need access to stricter methods. Both Ms Snowden and her “mentor” champion corporal punishment and, using cause-and-effect reasoning strategies, suggest that “time-out” is an inadequate consequence of the ban . Specifically, Ms Snowden seeks to vex concerned parents, by singling out unruly and boisterous students who are exploiting “time-out” methods, which are not a deterrent to disruptive behaviour. She also seeks to target and isolate teachers and policy makers who are not providing a secure learning environment. Alliterative phrases such as “tough talk” and a “stern stare” suggest that alternative methods of discipline are inadequate. By appealing to a student’s universal right to an education, she seeks to justify the reintroduction of corporal punishment to the school cohort and shame students who jeopardise or undermine others’ rights. Certainly, parents are encouraged to recognise that there are merits in a stricter form of punishment.
Contrastingly, Mr Scott condemns corporal punishment on the grounds that it is an unnecessary and unjust disciplinary tool. If Ms Snowden praises Dr Donnelly’s proposals and believes that recalcitrant students are benefiting from the current system, Mr Scott decries such policy proposals. Adopting an outraged and candid tone, he bases his argument upon several anecdotal examples – both his own and that of another student – to show how “sadistic” priests are the ones to exploit a culture of permissible violence. According to Mr Scott, at the age of five he received “six of the best”, for no apparent reason, and he challenges members of the school community and policy makers to empathise with the humiliation he experienced. This anecdotal evidence impugns the gratuitous nature of the punishment and shames those who neglected their duty of care. Likewise, other similarly brutal punishments that reinforce his own, focus on “broken” hands, as a consequence of not wearing a uniform. These examples also cast aspersions upon teachers’ motives and shame their actions. The rhetorical question, “are these the senior staff” who would be given the “discretion” to punish, provokes doubts about the teachers’ mental stability and their desire to punish and humiliate students. Such a portrayal will no doubt alarm many concerned parents who have teenagers in high school and who believe in the child’s rights to a safe environment as well as their right to learn without fear. Such parents are also likely to concur with Ms Peace’s view, rather than Dr Donnelly’s, that we must not teach that children that “violence is socially acceptable”; rather, she believes, we must all recognise that school leaders should find more appropriate ways to resolve conflicts in the classroom.