School that uses meditation instead of detention as a disciplinary method yields positive results

An elementary school Australia created a moment-mindful room to teach pupils how to manage their emotions and regulate their actions. Picture: Pavel Danilyuk?pexels

An elementary school Australia created a moment-mindful room to teach pupils how to manage their emotions and regulate their actions. Picture: Pavel Danilyuk?pexels

Published Nov 11, 2022


An elementary school called Robert W Coleman in Baltimore created a “moment-mindful room” to teach pupils how to manage their emotions and regulate their actions.

The school created a separate area where kids are instead summoned to the Mindful Moment Room rather than being sent to detention.

This technique aids in self-introspection about potential contributing factors to their behaviour. It reportedly has been extremely effective in resolving behavioural issues by teaching kids the skills they lack to regulate their emotions.

The room is not your typical windowless detention room. In its place, there are lights, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving children are encouraged to sit in the space and engage in techniques like breathing or meditation to help them relax and find their focus.

According to study results based on research: Exploring Students’ Perspective on Mindfulness by Karen Ager, Nicole J. Albrecht, and Prof. Marc Cohen, practising mindfulness improves student well-being and helps children become more conscious of their bodies, minds, and emotions.

The mindful programme reinforces and strengthens parts of our brain's ability to inhibit impulses (pleasure-seeking behaviours).Picture by Artem Podrez/Pexels

Discipline and punishment are synonymous, but there are some subtle differences between them as Mark Ballenger explains these differences:

The purpose of punishment is to force the offender to pay back the debt they have accrued. It is carried out for the advantage of the victim of the offence rather than the offender;

Discipline is a corrective action used to make an offender change their bad behaviour. It is done for the benefit of the offender rather than for the offended;

And lastly, Ballenger explains consequences as the negative, inevitable series of events that follow our poor decisions and actions. These outcomes are the product of individual decisions and are not the fault of anyone else.

One of the responsibilities as a parent, guardian or other authority figure is to teach your kids how to behave. It’s a task that requires both patience and time. But, it helps to learn effective and healthy discipline strategies.

While we are aware that detention is used to penalise inappropriate behaviour, the goal of detention in schools is to reduce future occurrences of the behaviour being punished. Punishment is arguably the most powerful way to show people that their actions have consequences.

However, former Rhodes University student Fathiya Banda who majored in psychology for her BA degree, shared in a conversation with IOL LIfestyle. She says: “I think it’s all a bad mindset to think that punishing a student by beating them equates to disciplining them.

“What you don’t realise when you choose to use the traditional methods of discipline like berating or detaining is that you are opening up room for the child to be more disrespectful as a form of challenging your authority as a teacher. Traditional techniques won’t change their ill behaviour but will make it worse.”

The "Teach don't punish" concept encourages children to be taught that they have power over their wandering minds instead of punishing them for not being able to control their thoughts and actions.

We live in societies where people who have difficulty performing or meeting the expectations of the environment are always treated as if their behavioural differences are intentional and problematic.

“It would be so much simpler if educators chose to understand where a student is coming from such as addressing them in a manner that would show the student is heard or understood and there’s help. Because at the end of the day behaviours are triggered by something,” said Banda.

Since this implementation, there have been no suspensions at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School. Evidently, the attentive approach that was introduced had successful results because a nearby school, Patterson Park High School, adopted the programme, which resulted in higher attendance rates and a decrease in suspension rates.

Children who are nurtured have a much better chance of completing school and developing the required working skills thereafter, which further supports the novel idea that “If children can, children will, if they’re not doing something it’s simply because they lack the skill, or haven’t been taught part of that skill.”

The mindful programme reinforces and strengthens parts of the brain’s ability to inhibit impulses (pleasure-seeking behaviours).

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