Academic journal article International Education Studies

Making Our Judgments Right: Ethics of Corporal Punishment in Indian Schools

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Making Our Judgments Right: Ethics of Corporal Punishment in Indian Schools

Article excerpt


The case Ayub Khan v. Municipal Corporation of Delhi Schools is one of the landmark cases for promoting a conversation on ethics of corporal punishment in Indian society. Based on literature synthesis and the critical examination of the Court case using ethical frameworks (Stefkovich, 2006; Stefkovich & Shapiro, 2010) this paper argues that law alone may not preclude teachers from using an age old practice such as corporal punishment. Furthermore using literature related to the Court case as secondary data sources, the paper argues that teachers trained in incorporating ethical paradigms in their decision making presents best chances for effective implementation of laws against corporal punishment in Indian schools.

Keywords: corporal punishment, physical punishment, ethics, India, law

1. Introduction-Ethics in Teaching Profession

Ethics is concerned with judgment people make regarding right or wrong based on morality (Stob, 1978). People use their consciousness based on their background and past experience to solve problems in ethical manner. Ethical framework is basic assumptions about beliefs, values and principles to guide choices (Starratt, 2004). An ethical framework constantly guides individuals to make decisions. There are four main ethical frameworks: ethics of justice, ethics of care, ethics of critique and ethics of profession (Starratt, 2004; Stefkovich, 2006; Stefkovich & Shapiro, 2010). Depending on the situation one or more than one ethical framework could be applied to solve problems. Stefkovich (2006) argues that due to the nature of profession teachers often use more than one framework to conduct their daily business (See Table 1).

Ethical frameworks help educators adopt unique perspective where they go beyond the rulebook of schools to make the best judgments for the students. Knowledge of ethical frameworks provides teachers with a lens to evaluate their decisions based not only on legal framework but also on ethics. Teachers trained to use ethics in their daily businesses tend to be more sensitive towards students' need (Begley & Stefkovich, 2004; Begley & Stefkovich, 2007). These teachers use ethical perspectives to solve students' related matter in fair and just ways leading to promotion of equality and equity.

In western countries such as United States, teacher preparation programs started incorporating ethics in their curriculum from early on. There is a long line of literature on ethics in teaching profession in United States. Scholars such as Dewey (1909) talked about ethics in teaching in his book Moral Principals in Education. He argues that ethical decision making requires educators to use critical reflections before choosing an action over other, which is usually informed by societal values.

While teachers in the United States learn about ethics through teacher preparation curriculums, teachers in countries such as India have a fewer opportunities to get trained in ethics while undergoing teacher preparation programs. Additionally, ethics in Indian teacher preparation programs is primarily adopted from the western countries (Tiwari, 2013). Therefore, applying ethical frameworks originated in western countries could provide insights on ethical implications of school corporal punishment in India and could demonstrate the necessity of ethical training for educators.

2. Method

The Court case: Ayub Khan v. Delhi Municipal Corporation Schools, 2009

Shanno Khan-an 11 year old girl with learning difficulties from an elementary school ran by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD)-was asked by her teacher to memorize English alphabet as homework. The next day as a consequence for Shanno's inability to recite the alphabet, the teacher spanked Shanno and gave her a time-out outside the classroom (Samson, 2009). Later, Shanno fainted and became unconscious. Shanno was rushed to the hospital where she slipped into a comma and passed away on April 17, 2009. …

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