n South African Journal of Higher Education - Teaching and memory : why corporal punishment persists at schools - training for transgression

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Corporal punishment at schools in South Africa often causes consternation and public outcry despite its abolition almost two decades ago. The Department of Education (DoE 2000) published a booklet entitled 'Alternatives to corporal punishment in the classroom' which has proved largely ineffective, especially at schools in poor communities. This article reports on a study conducted by student teachers in KwaZulu-Natal, a province where corporal punishment is still rife. The article addresses the following questions: 'What were respondents' common memories of corporal punishment?' and 'How beneficial were student teachers' experiences and memories of corporal punishment in assisting them to develop a pedagogical perspective for future practice?' Data were collected by using interview questionnaires (N = 70) and five reflective student teachers' reports. Adults' schooling memories were captured by conducting an interview questionnaire in which 'corporal punishment' emerged as a major memory theme. Five student teachers were purposely selected to write a reflective report in response to a set of questions relating to their experiences of corporal punishment. The article concludes that by employing memory as a reflective discursive background, negative memories can be destabilised and disrupted to initiate new pedagogical practices. Valuable lessons were learnt to navigate the challenging terrain of corporal punishment which epitomises the persistent violation of children's rights at many schools in South Africa.

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