As many of you know, I am often critical of the Yated and some of the articles/letters that are found in it. However, there is one part of the Yated that I am actually starting to enjoy reading -- The Chinuch Roundtable. Each week, The Chinuch Roundtable features a question from a parent or teacher about chinuch and the proper approach, followed by responses from about six to ten professional mechanchim. While I have to admit up front that (aside from my experience as a parent) I have no background in chinuch, I usually find myself in agreement with the roundtable participants.
This week's letter (I'm sorry, I don't have it with me, so I can't quote it verbatim) is from a parent of a child (the letter doesn't specify the age) who sometimes causes trouble in class. The rebbi decided to punish the child (I think we can generally agree that a disruptive child does need to be disciplined) by having him write lines -- 1500 times! When the child failed to turn in the assignment, he upped the ante -- he told the child that he had to write "I will be more responsible" 5000 times!! Five. Thousand. Times.
To their credit, each and every participant in the round table criticized the practice of having children write lines as a form of discipline -- even if it it's only fifty lines, let alone the absurd number of lines that the rebbi gave the student.
That being said, I'm really surprised that there are teachers who are so out of touch that they think that any child (even a teenager) can really complete such a task. One participant of the roundtable actually remarked that the task was not a punishment, but a sentence. I can't even begin to fathom the enormity of the task that this rebbi laid before the child. 5000 times! Aside from it being a waste of two hundred pieces of paper, it also does nothing to improve the child's attitude or disposition. All an assignment like this can do is breed anger and resentment for the rebbi, the school, and possibly yiddishkeit in general.
We all know that there are good teachers out there and bad teachers -- my kids have had their share of both -- but they've never had anyone who proposed such a mindless, pointless, demeaning task as punishment. I think that this is clearly a rebbi who needs to leave chinuch and go on to something else. He clearly has no idea on how to relate to children.
Do any of you have any stories about bad punishments that you or your kids received? Or how about creative punishments that were especially good and helped you to change your ways?