Most of us have a memory of detention at school – staying late in a classroom, watched by a stern teacher – in silence, with your head on a desk, or doing extra work. Now imagine instead being in a ‘Mindful Moment Room’ instead – a brightly coloured “oasis of calm”. The Mindful Moment Room belong to Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore, where detention is being replaced by meditation.
Led by an instructor, the 20-minute sessions in the Mindful Moment Room consist of five minutes of targeted discussion and fifteen minutes of mindfulness practice – yoga or breathing exercises, depending on the situation. According to the theory, this gives misbehaving children a chance to calm down through meditation, rather than punishing them in a traditional sense.
And it’s not just misbehaving children who are sent here – the Mindful Moment Room is also a haven for children who are suffering from anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, and stress.
Interestingly enough, the Robert W Coleman Elementary School has not had to suspend any students and school attendance has improved since the implementation of the meditation programme. The school’s principal, Carlillian Thompson, says: “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.” One student said: “This morning I got mad at my Dad, but then I remembered to breathe, and then I didn’t shout.”
Clearly, teaching children to calm down in conflict situations at a primary school level would help them use these skills throughout their lives. Meditation is obviously beneficial, but does it work to replace detention with meditation, or is there still a place for more traditional punishment?
Already the way we’ve been punishing children has changed dramatically, and it wasn’t that long ago that schools still supported corporal punishment. According to Prof. Maadabhushi Sridhar, author of Corporal Punishment: “The research studies show that the theory of corporal punishment was an ineffective discipline strategy with children of all ages and it is often proved to be dangerous. The punishment of such kind leads to create anger, resentment, and low self-esteem. It teaches them violence and revenge as solutions to problems and perpetuates itself, as children might imitate what the adults are doing.”
If this is true, then it seems that meditation would be a more effective solution. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter – should our schoolchildren be meditating instead of writing lines? Share this article and your views using the social media links below: