In the pages of history teaching has often been cited as noble work. From a courtesan to a King’s advisor, teachers have borne the duty of passing down knowledge and skills in every profession and generation. They are the silent and often overlooked makers of a civil society: individuals who taught the Prime Minister stealing is a sin and one plus one equals two. But teachers in Pakistan today have little concern with the immense responsibility their job entails and the dreadful impact their teaching methods can have.Be it a school room full of tables or the floor of a madrassah, at the heart of teaching lies the shaping of young minds. Many teachers across Pakistan continue to believe this can be achieved by corporalpunishment. Recently the video of a madrassah teacher beating his pupil using a pipe inside a mosque in Hyderabad surfaced on social media.Thankfully within hours the teacher was arrested by Sindh Police. Political parties were quick to use the incident to momentarily discuss the mainstreaming of madrassahs. But the issue of corporal punishment is much wider than this. A survey report published in 2016 by Alif Ailaan and the Society for the Advancement of Education found 70 percent of school teachers (in both government and private schools)were in favor of corporal punishment for students.Being hit by sticks or steel rulers is a common practice in low income school across Pakistan- particularly in rural areas.Quite a few young women from Punjab have recalled for me stories of being beaten at school for failing to memorize information accurately.The prevalent teaching method exposes two issues at hand 1) the use of outdated syllabi which require little more than the ability to rote learn like a parrot and 2) the use of fear as a learning tool. Now the first issue is a political one and has already been debated by many; after the 18th amendment each province has the ability to update their course material and methods for testing students. The second issue, on the other hand, stems from our socio-cultural norms and cannot be addressed by legislative measures alone. Fear is an accepted driving force in Pakistan; wear a belt only when you are afraid of being fined, declare your wealth only when you are afraid of being disqualified.The seed of morality no longer grows naturally;to do the right thing you must be afraid.This ability to function by fear is instilled in us from a very early age.Let us go back to the child being beaten in the mosque using a pipe. He must learn or be beaten. So he learns because he is afraid.And this is not a cause of concern for the teacher because to him the ancient system seems to work, even if the current global opinion contradicts his belief.On 12thMarch 2013 the National Assembly of Pakistan unanimously passed the Corporal Punishment Bill which permits imposing up to a one year imprisonment sentence and a penalty of Rs.50,000 on any individual found guilty of inflicting corporal punishment on children. However, with the National Assembly dissolving on 17th March 2013, the bill could not be ratified by the Senate, for as per article 76 (3) of the constitution, ‘a Bill which having been passed by the National Assembly is pending in the Senate, shall lapse on the dissolution of the National Assembly.’ Had the bill become an act of parliament, perhaps people like aforementioned teacher would think twice before beating children with pipes and sticks. It is futile to sit on a high horse and speak against corporal punishment as if it has always been globally recognized as an atrocious practice. The social acceptance and rejection of ideas and customs alters over time by changing the dialogue which surrounds themHowever, the existence of a law does not mean there are no ways to break the law without being noticed. Only a small fraction of cases concerning abuse of children become news. Most children continue to suffer with no one to hear their cries. Moreover, given the cost and duration of filing cases, an even smaller fraction of families would be able to take legal measures against teachers who use corporal punishment. If the video had not gone viral on social media, the madrasah teacher would have happily carried on torturing the children. And his apathy to their pain is a serious cause of concern.The man who recorded the video can be heard asking the teacher not to hit the child. To this the culprit responds: ‘Their parents know I beat them. I will kill them if I want to. It is not an issue. This is how we learnt as well. We have also been beaten like this. It is fine.’ The law differentiates right from wrong; an immoral act is criminalized and the guilty is penalized. But if parents and teachers who have learnt through corporal punishment see no problem with it as a teaching method, can insisting on more stringent legislation against corporal punishment and its implementation be an adequate solution? While the need for forbidding corporal punishment today may seem obvious, this was not always the case. Spanking and whipping was a fairly common and perfectly acceptable practice for disciplining children in Victorian England. It was only in 1986 that corporal punishment was outlawed across government schools in England after a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 1982. The law was extended to private schools in 1998- only 22 years ago.It is futile to sit on a high horse and speak against corporal punishment as if it has always been globally recognized as an atrocious practice. The social acceptance and rejection of ideas and customs alters over time by changing the dialogue which surrounds them. In order to prevent corporal punishment we must first acknowledge that to certain groups in Pakistan the teaching method is simply an old and successful tradition. The writer has a master’s in media with a distinction from the London School of Economics. She tweets @mawish_mPublished in Daily Times, December 22nd 2018.