Teachers’ union critical of corporal punishment ban

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Teachers’ union critical of corporal punishment ban

Members of the Korea Teachers and Education Workers’ Union (KTU), a liberal teachers’ union, had scathing remarks about Seoul’s recent ban on corporal punishment, saying it created friction between students and teachers and did not properly reflect the reality in schools.

It is a reversal of the position the liberal-minded union initially took.

Seoul’s education superintendent, Kwak No-hyun, and around 100 teachers of the KTU held a meeting hosted by the union on Wednesday at a local education office in Songpa District, southern Seoul. They discussed issues such as personnel management of teachers and school reforms.

The ban on corporal punishment drew the harshest criticism, however.

A middle school teacher in Seoul, surnamed Park, said, “As soon as the corporal punishment ban began [on Nov. 1 in Seoul], a slew of absurd things happened.”

After a confrontation between a teacher and a student, “The teacher was told by the student, ‘Sir, you should now retire,’” Park said.

Park added, “So far, I have passionately supported Kwak as superintendent, but now it has become hard for me to defend him.”

Teachers also said the corporal punishment ban has been hastily put in place.

A teacher at a vocational high school said, “A toilet was set on fire due to smoking by a student. However, both a vice principal and a guidance teacher passed the buck to get the student counseling.”

The teacher continued, “The head guidance teacher said, ‘What can I do about it since the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education banned corporal punishment?’ Under this circumstance, I am doubtful whether students will follow teachers’ orders to reflect on their misbehavior.”

The KTU initially backed the ban on corporal punishment. And when Kwak described the plan in July, the union defended the superintendent.

Since the launch of the ban this month, however, even liberal-minded teachers have become disgruntled over the new policy, complaining of hardships in dealing with students.

Kwak, however, clearly expressed his position, saying, “The die is cast.”



By Kim Min-sang [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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