by Meghan O.
In our normal school system, when a student misbehaves, they are usually sent directly to detention. Typically, this means sitting in a classroom and watching the clock tick by as frustration continues to build. In detention, you are told to think about what you have done or even worse, do school work and not think about what you have done. In this type of strict environment, there is no attempt for any kind of dialogue about the behaviours that led to detention. It is these students that repeatedly return to detention. With no effort to talk about negative behaviours and its implications, there will be no growth or learning for these students in detention. It is nearly impossible under these circumstances. These students need to understand the implications that their behavior have on their own lives and the lives of others. Acting out in school may be a cry for help for many students. It is important that schools recognize that behaviors need to be well understood so change can occur. Insanity has been described as doing the same things over and over again while expecting different results. If schools are finding the same students back in detention, new ways of dealing with behaviour problems need to be tried.
An elementary school in Baltimore has recently decided to make a change with respect to the way behavior is corrected in school. With help from the Holistic Life Foundation, this school has created a “Mindful Moment Room”. The coordinators of this foundation created this room as a place where misbehaving students are encouraged to go and learn how to deal with stress and anger through the practice of mindfulness. They provide instructions on how to practice breathing and meditation to help calm down and create understanding. Another aspect of this room’s structure is to ask students to talk through why they felt they needed to practice mindfulness. When I first came across this idea, I thought that there was no way that young children would be able to sit still and actually practice mindfulness. The Holistic Life Foundation says, ” You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence but they do.” The results seem to back up the perceived success of this project. This elementary school has not had a suspension since 2015. They have also received positive feedback from their students. Students say now instead of getting angry with someone, they remember to breath instead. There is much research that suggests positive impacts from students practicing mindfulness which include strengthened attention and concentration abilities, reducing anxiety about tests and improving classroom participation (Schoeberlein & Sheth, 2009).
So, whether or not you are in agreement that detention is serving a purpose, mindfulness definitely has a place in schools. It is an amazing idea to have a mindfulness practice take the place of detention. I strongly believe that all students could benefit from being more mindful as there are many long-term benefits that come from practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is a life long skill which requires much practice. I cannot think of a better place to start this practice than in school.
“Mindful Moment Program.” Holistic Life Foundation. N.p., 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Rutherford-Morrison, L. (2016). This School Replaced Detention with Meditiation and Hasn’t Had One Suspension Since.” Bu, N. p., 26, Sept. 2016. Web. 5 Nov. 2016.
Schoeberlein, D, & Sheth, S. (2009). Mindful teaching and teaching mindfulness: A guide for anyone who teaches anything. somerville: Wisdom Publication.