A US school is seeing drastic results after it replaced detention with meditation. Would this work in South Africa?
Detention is as much a part of the fabric of your schooling years as exams are. I was always a model student, the good child, but even I got detention once (for the stupid reason of not having a couple of answers missing in my homework).
As a mother of a toddler my approach to raising my son has not been punishments but rather consequences. I want to teach him that every action has a consequence.
For example, when he spills something by accident, I don't shout and have a fit about it, I'd just calmly tell him that's it's okay but he needs to clean it up.
We're still figuring it out, we don't have all the creases ironed out but I very much like the idea of teaching children rather than punishing them.
That's exactly what Baltimore’s Robert W. Coleman Elementary School is doing. Instead of punishing kids with detention they are sent to the Mindful Moment Room - a brightly colored “oasis of calm” where in partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, misbehaving kids can calm down and recenter themselves through breathing exercises and meditation.
It's not just children who misbehave who're sent to the Mindful Moment Room, children suffering from anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, and stress are also referred to the room for twenty-minute sessions with mindfulness instructors.
The sessions include five minutes of targeted discussion and fifteen minutes of mindfulness practice – yoga or breathing exercises depending on the situation.
But will this work in SA schools?
I don't see this working in high schools because misbehaving teenagers are prone to playing the fool and distracting each other just for the heck of it because let's be honest, sometime teenagers are the worst.
But if this was implemented at a primary school level where they would learn the skills to deal with conflicting situations, it may not be needed by the time they got to high school level.
Testimonials from the kids taken from the Holistic Life Foundation's website show that these sessions are helping the children not only at school but with their everyday lives as well:
“This morning I got mad at my Dad, but then I remembered to breathe and then I didn’t shout. I really wish you guys could stay longer and teach us more exercises.”
“When we had to take a big test, the MSA, before I took it and in the middle… I took deep breaths to stay calm and just finish the test. When everybody around you Is making a lot of noises just trying to tune them out…and be yourself, do your breathing.”
“I went to my house and taught my Mom how to do all the things you guys taught us. You guys are the best. I will always remember you. You guys made a lot of people happy at Lincoln.”
Since the implementation of the programme, Robert W Coleman Elementary School has had no suspensions at all. So it's obviously working.
Principal of the school, Carlillian Thompson, had these observations about how the programme has helped kids with anger problems:
"There are some children who have anger management problems. The yoga program has enabled those children to do meditation techniques and instead of them reacting and getting angry, they’ve learned how to meditate and redirect their anger.”
I'm not going to lie, I would love a Mindful Moment Room at work for when I need a break. Although honestly, I might just fall asleep there.
All in all, I think it's a great idea. I think punishing kids is not the way to teach them to be better human beings. It makes no sense, instead arm them with the skills and coping skills to function as well-rounded adults in the real world. Isn't that what school is about anyway?
What do you think about replacing detention with meditation in schools? Send your thoughts to email@example.com.