School of hard knocks
Sometimes insights about today’s education system come from the most unlikely of places. This happened to me recently listening to a Radio 4 profile of the late heavyweight boxing legend Henry Cooper, who famously knocked down Muhammad Ali in 1963.
Reading from Norman Giller’s biography of ‘Our ‘Enry’, the show gave some idea of the sort of schooling Cooper received growing up on a council estate in Lewisham, South London during World War II. Although one would never want to return to the corporal punishment that was so normal in such schools, I could not help but feel a sympathy for Henry’s conclusion: things have swung far too far in the other direction. Read on…
“We were what was called back in those days ‘ruffians’, but we respected our teachers and lived in fear of dad’s slaps if we backchatted him of failed to do whatever mum wanted. Grandad George was a notorious cobbles fighter, he used to scrap for pennies round the Elephant and Castle area, and dad would cop a right-hander from him if he misbehaved. In our time it was all right to wack your kids, teachers would cane you or slap your arse with a slipper.
“Somewhere between the way they disciplined us then, and the namby-pamby way they treat children today would be about right. You have to teach them respect.”