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Copoal Punishment in American Schools

This research examines the decline in the use of corporal punishment in American elementary and secondary schools over the course of the 20th century and the consequences of the fact for the status of American public education, the safety and well-being of teachers, students, and administrators, and the culture as a whole. The plan of the research will be to set forth a historical overview of corporal punishment and recent legislation on the subject, and then to discuss and critically analyze consequences of the shift in thinking and public policy on the matter, with a view toward forecasting possible lines of future rethinking, reform, and development.

The issue of corporal punishment in schools is bound up inextricably with wider-scope issues such as civil society, civil order, and questions of discipline. Indeed a significant body of political philosophy informs the whole question of the mechanisms by which civil order, the controlling image of social organization in Western thought, can be maintained. In Leviathan, Hobbes addresses social order in terms of absolute authority. He famously sees humanity as condemned to an existence nasty, brutish, and short, unless organized around "a common power to keep them all in awe" (1958, p. 106). The only tribute to the human species that Hobbes can pay is that it has the intelligence to recognize that it is in need of a strong leader, which functions as a bulwark against humanity's natural condition, war (and therefore potential slavery, the denial of individual freedom). The only way to preserve the very human race is to make a covenant of laws, governed by an absolute ruler, which will insure peace and security: "In war . . . causes of right and wrong or justice and injustice, have no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no justice" (Hobbes, 1958, p. 101). The social covenant, under the aegis of an absolute monarch, ensures the equality and liberty of al...

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Copoal Punishment in American Schools. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:48, May 21, 2019, from