One student fainted and several felt dizzy after a teacher made his class stand with their eyes shut for nearly half an hour at a junior-high school in Taipei on Monday.
In the incident at the junior-high division of the Taipei Municipal Tazhi High School, five students became dizzy and disoriented and needed treatment at the nursing room, while one fainted and almost hit his head on the floor.
One student, who checked his watch, said the class was made to stand still for 26 minutes and the punishment was only called off after someone fainted.
While the Ministry of Education’s Deputy Director for K-12 Education Administration, Huang tzu-teng (黃子騰), said the practice was a permitted form of discipline, he said it “should only last for two minutes at most, 26 minutes is too long.”
National Alliance of Parents Organization’s chairman Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) said his group supports approved methods of discipline.
“A person will become disoriented if they are made to stand with eyes closed. It is an illegal form of corporal punishment. This teacher should not pull such stunts and injure students,” he said.
Humanistic Education Foundation executive director Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭) agreed.
“Our government has already banned corporal punishment in school, yet teachers still try different approaches with refined ways to punish students,” she said. “The education ministry should prohibit this punishment to avoid injuries.”
The schools’ academic affairs director Kuo Chien-cheng (郭建誠) responded that the teacher did not mean to punish the students, but wanted the students to close their eyes to reflect on their behavior.
“One student became unwell and took a fall. The teacher took the student to the nursing room right away, where the student got something to eat and rested for about 30 minutes. The teacher also contacted the student’s parents the next day to apologize,” Kuo added.
Chien Wen-jen (簡文仁), resident physiotherapist of Cathay General Hospital in Taipei, said that to maintain balance, a person needs to coordinate the vision, spatial positioning of muscles and joints, and the inner ear’s vestibular system.
“When your eyes are closed, the visual sense is shut down, and balancing becomes difficult. The body will begin to sway and will be unable to stand still,” Chien said.
“Some individuals with poor body coordination may fall down. Others may experience lowered blood pressure,” he said, adding that people usually quickly regain balance by briefly opening their eyes.