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On the naughty step - conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: Victorian-style punishment

Those of us old enough to remember will have no trouble recalling the seemingly endless hours of writing the same sentence over and over again, until the only words left in your vocabulary are: "I must not flick ink at Watson's back."

All that was gained from the exercise was a bad case of writer's cramp and the loss of any useful facts gleaned during the school day. Thankfully, things have moved on. We live in more civilised times and the era of writing lines has, mercifully, been condemned to history as a throwback from the Victorian age.

Or has it? Just this week, England's education secretary Michael Gove called for a return to "traditional discipline", and suggested that writing lines should make a comeback.

Perhaps Mr Gove is modelling his approach on Charles Dickens' character Wackford Squeers, the often brutal schoolmaster from Nicholas Nickleby. What can we expect to return next in the battle against disobedience in the classroom? The dunce's cap? The cane?

Apart from the obvious catch that there is little educational merit in writing lines, there's also the small problem of how effective it is in the digital age. Copy and paste makes light work of 500 lines.

So, before we see a new generation of Squeerses in the classroom, we must place Victorian-style discipline firmly on the naughty step.

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