With rod spared, should students be suspended?

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With rod spared, should students be suspended?

Corporal punishment is kaput in Gyeonggi and Seoul schools.

But after a seminar on the issue yesterday in Seoul, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said that suspending students should be allowed to bring back some discipline.

And a round of forced push-ups might be a good idea too.

Two liberal school superintendents, Kim Sang-kon, in Gyeonggi and Kwak No-hyun in the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, abolished virtually all forms of punishment for students in their regions’ schools, including suspensions - the bans began in October and November, respectively.

But some kids have taken advantage of the policy and started mini riots in school.

Cho Byeok, a professor at Dongguk University’s Korean Educational Development Institute, led a seminar yesterday called “An Alternative for the Advancing of School Culture” and the subject of restoring suspensions was raised.

“Before the seminar, the ministry had thought about it,” said Oh Seung-kol, director of the school life and culture team at the Education Ministry. “We are considering revising the current regulation. If the ministry passes a new regulation in January, all primary, middle and high schools nationwide will follow it starting from next spring’s semester.”

The seminar argued that school should be able to give “indirect” punishment to badly behaved students, such as ordering them to stand in the back of classrooms or to temporarily suspend them from classes.

It also suggested that schools should be able to suspend students who are constantly late without excuse, destroy school facilities, interfere with lectures, take drugs or commit physical violence in classrooms.

Suspended students would be sent to “alternative class,” a professional consultancy outside the school.

The seminar also argued that “indirect punishment,” such as ordering students to run laps or do push-ups, be allowed.

The current regulation doesn’t allow teachers to order punishment that cause direct or indirect pain.

The seminar also suggested a team respond instantly to threats and physical assault against teachers in classrooms.

The ministry also said it is thinking of adopting a program of “conversations with parents,” meetings with parents of trouble-making students.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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