“What’s the chemical formula of ethyl alcohol?” the Chemistry teacher asked the student. He gulped, stood there wishing he might as well drown himself in the organic compound. And he put together a couple of C, H and Os, hoping against hope that they would magically arrange themselves to form ethyl alcohol.
“Wrong answer,” she screeched. “Figure out the correct formula and write an imposition of 100 times before you come to class tomorrow,” she added.
Sounds familiar? This ‘copy writing’ punishment of forcing students to write something, fondly referred to as ‘imposition’ in the country, might have been a part of many of our school days. Imposition may range over a variety of sentences or words like trigonometric formulae, mathematical identities to greater lessons to be learnt like “I must not talk in class”.
The number of times ranges from 10 to 100, higher numbers are not unheard of.
And then ofcourse, students seen standing outside the class may not be an unfamiliar sight for some. So what are the disciplinarian methods used at schools nowadays?
“Gone are the days when students were asked to write impositions,” says K P Annie, headmistress, St Joseph’s UP School, Kadavanthara.
“Writing impositions can also cause physical pain, hence we no longer resort to it these days. Teachers prefer to sit down with the student or help him/her catch up on topics by staying back with them for a few extra hours after school. It shouldn’t be the fear of emotional or physical pain that forces them to do their duties, but little tots at times need a push to drive them.”
Teachers seem to have other painless techniques in hand, to get things done from children on time. “If they fail to do their homework or complete their lessons, we bar them from attending games period,” says Deepa, a teacher with Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Vaduthala. According to a student, teachers of Campion School use the same technique with the kindergarten students. This technique works wonders particularly with little tots from the junior section who never want to miss a chance to play.
Another method, says Deepa, is deducting points from their respective Houses for their mistakes. This inturn affects the fight for the overall championship. “In such cases, students get peer help from their team mates to study or get their work done. It becomes a group effort,” she adds.
“Completing impositions can be rather tiring for us. After a few times of repetition, it never gets into our head since we are more interested in getting it done,” said Lakshmi Mohan, a class X student.
According to her, students who fail to complete their homework on time, need to write it in a piece of paper and stick it to their uniform pockets for the others to see!
After banning corporal punishment, state governments like those of Karnataka have resorted to officially banning the punishment of giving impositions to students, in schools.
“Though there has not been any official declaration about the same, impositions have long been forbidden from the educational system in the state,” says MD Murali, Deputy Director of Education, Kochi. “I still remember writing all answers to a unit test about 20 times while I was in school. It’s funny when I turn around and remember those times,” says Mirshad K, a 24-year-old engineering graduate, as he reminisces about his school days.