Scottish History of Never Sparing the Rod to Spoil Their School Children

Up until quite recently, corporal punishment in Scottish schools was an accepted practice. There were a few different ways in which school masters would implement such punishments. For quite a long time, well into the 20th century, beating children was considered a reasonable occurrence.

A most common form of corporal punishment was implemented through the use of a wooden ruler. This punishment was carried out by a few smacks on the hand of the recipient. Another Scottish school corporal punishment was known as the tawse, usually referred to as the belt or school strap. Containing two to three tails and made specifically for school masters by Scottish saddlers, the tawse was a leather strap utilized by the whacking of a child’s hand.

Also quite common were beatings on the bottom. Birching was considered a form of corporal punishment and was regularly done across the backside of pupils with birch twigs. This particular form of punishment was banned in 1948. Public floggings were known to occur as well, the experience made even worse by being done in front of the entire school. You could oftentimes find what was known to be called a cooling stone, or large rock, outside of school room doors. This is where you would find the victim of such floggings sitting in an attempt to take the sting out of their backside.

Although outlawed in state schools by 1986, it still remained a common occurrence in most private schools at that time. Finally, due to the widespread agreement that corporal punishment is a practice involving such unnecessary and inhumane treatment of school children, today it can fortunately be thought of as a thing of the past.

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