Education by fear: old and new methods of child discipline – archive, 12 November 1932

12 November 1932: From Bertrand Russell to Mme Montessori, the expert advice given to parents can be baffling

Mr Fairchild or Mr Barlow, had they been asked for a definition of nursery discipline, would certainly have described something of the “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Do this because I say so” order. But the Fairchild children were often naughty, because papa and his tyrannies – mental and physical – were only repressive, not educative.

The people who believed in beating and starving a child into submission were the people who taught that God would send men to everlasting fire for not conforming to His standard of virtue. The principle is the same. Bertrand Russell, in his brilliant though perhaps biased book On Education, says that “he should certainly be horrified if his boy were half as badly behaved as the children in The Fairchild Family,” and so say all of us.

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