West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

On Corporal Punishment

"Every child deserves an occasional pat on the back, as long as it is low enough and hard enough."
     --Bishop Fulton Sheen

An educator for 35 years, I have seen many changes in regard to "discipline" in the classroom, sports, and life. In fact, we have virtually eliminated corporal punishment in our schools. Are today's schools and their programs better off without it?

I'll let you decide. As for myself, I have learned - "we are our experiences." Allow me to share some of my personal experiences.

As a student and athlete...

In elementary school, I received a few "paddlings" for misbehaving in class and disobeying the patrol boys before and after school. Mr. Ellery Newberry, the principal, served the honors. It definitely straightened me out. I still respect and admire the late Ellery Newberry for caring enough about young Bill Welker's inappropriate behavior.

I learned.

In high school, our coaches had their moments as well. At times, my head coach Mal Paul and assistant coach Lyman Weaver (both National Wrestling Hall of Famers) wrestled us to prove important points. They were very physical and we walked home sore. Today, their approach would be construed by some as physical humliation.

All I can say is that every one of Coach Paul andCoach Weaver's boys loved and revered them.

We learned.

As a young teacher...

My initial professional teaching assignment was in the inner-city schools of Pittsburgh. The first two weeks as a physical education instructor I attempted to utilize all the "educational psychology" theories taught to me in undergraduate school. The approaches didn't work; in fact, the principal considered dismissing me.

It was then that I suggested to the administrator that I paddle the boy who was disrupting the class with his very disrespectful actions. She agreed. I then did so under her sukpervisiion.

After that, I had no more gym class problems with the student. I even took him and his classmantes on numerous productiive and educational field trips the rest of the semester.

The students learned.

As a parent...

I still remember when my daughter Tiffany was four years old. She slipped through my hand and ran between two cars onto the street in front of our house. Thank God there were no cars in her path.

What did I do after snatching her up? You probably guessed it. I immediately spanked her bottom all the way into the house, as I stressed upon her the indisctretion she committed. Tiffany cried for five minutes.

I suppose some of you are thinking inappropriate parenting. I don't care. The end result was my concern; she never ran between two cars again. My thanks to B.F. Skinner and his punishment/extinction behavioral theroy.

Tiffany learned.

Yes, we are our experiences, but I am also a realist and survivor. I have learned to adapt to contempory mores regarding discipline practices in ur society. Arethe better approaches?

Again, I'll let you decide.

Return to the West Virginia Mat Thoughts Index Page
Return to the WV-Mat front page