Special Board Meeting, 1897

On Friday 11th June 1897 a special meeting of the Blantyre School Board was held in Low Blantyre School to resolve a particular problem once and for all…..the problem being that one of their teachers was being excessively cruel to pupils.

The members of the Board present were Messrs. Walker, Davidson, Oliphant, Small and Kelly. The complaint brought to the board was from John MacFarlane of Waterloo Row, the Village. John was aggrieved that a teacher was dealing out classroom physical punishment to his daughter, way beyond what was normal or permitted. He was severely annoyed that after the girl’s hand had received the cane, the teacher ended the punishment by slapping her on the face with his hands, not only shocking her further but causing her great pain!

He had demanded an inquiry and the Board felt that in order to resolve the situation, the special meeting should be called. During witness statements, it was found that the girl had stubbornly refused to copy lessons from the blackboard to her slate and had received a cane whipping to her hand for this. The girl however, had been caned before and it was alleged that the teacher seeing her not as affected as he’d hoped, followed up the punishment by a right slap to her face. This was accepted given the various accounts all matching.

The Board spoke stating that only one “palmy” had been administrated and that in no way was this cruel by the teacher. When angry John MacFarlane queried this response from officials, he asked for evidence that should justify such actions, especially as punishment had been deployed to his daughters hand already.

The logbook of the school was fetched and discussions turned to how difficult it was to manage this particular girl, who was often in trouble. She frequently tested the temper of teachers by her stubbornness.

The outcome was one which John MacFarlane had no further say in. The Blantyre School Board completely exonerated their teacher from the charge of cruelty with no fine or reprimand to be given. However, they did say he should exercise a little more patience and tolerance in future and to try to avoid lifting his hand to the faces of children, even those who were unmanageable. No apology was given to John MacFarlane or his daughter and the meeting ended.

Featuring Blantyre Project Social Media with permission. Strictly not for use by others on or offline, our visitors said,

Rena Caullay Changed days, but never a happy medium
Mary Dawson I wonder what he would have done if he had been confronted by my mum. No contest.
Betty McLean Bad enough getting the cane but being slapped as well
Helen Lawson Taylor They were cruel in those days
Monica Anne Lafferty Poor child
Linda Gourlay The poor girl probably had learning difficulties of some kind if she was seen as persistent & troublesome.. No diagnosis or compassion in those days eh, never mind an apology??!!

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