As a child, you may have been in the corner more than once for punishment. Punishment rules, standing in the hallway, going to the principle’s office… Whatever the measure, it was always annoying and had a negative connotation.
However, an elementary school in America’s Baltimore does it completely differently. The school experiments with giving meditation to children who misbehave. The results are remarkably positive, although there is still a very long way to go.
Meditation As a Punishment in School
Meditation is seen as a healthier alternative to traditional school punishments. Forget punishment rules, or standing in the corner with your back to the other children.
A completely different approach is used at the Baltimore primary school, one with a positive approach as a starting point. The school believes that meditating helps to calm the children down and gives them insight into what they have done wrong, but that it’s still a clear marker that they have done something wrong.
The collaboration between the Holistic Life Foundation and the school in Baltimore, called Robert W. Coleman Elementary, was born out of necessity. Many of the students suffered disruptive behavior and trauma. The staff often didn’t know at all how to deal with them.
The so-called ‘Mindful Moment’ program teaches children to reflect, but also to calm down when they are angry. Breathing also plays a crucial role in this. The things the children learn ‘for punishment’ in the programme gives them a special new insight into their behavior in the classroom. The result so far has been very positive, even though there is still a very long way to go, according to the school’s management.
Calm Down Troublesome Children
Discipline doesn’t just come out of nowhere, it has to be earned. If a child is disruptive in class, they are sent to the room for Mindful Moments for half an hour.
Here, special supervisors are waiting to guide them to their ‘punishment’. The teachers rotate this service and have all received extra training to guide the punishment method in the right direction.
The meditative punishment should help children deal with stress, fears and other psychological and physical problems that make them restless.
Children can also decide for themselves whether they want to take a break in the ‘punishment room’, which is actually just the gymnasium with a number of yoga mats.
Guide and Talk
It’s not just about meditating, however. After the period of rest, the supervisors (teachers) come together with the children to talk about their behavior.
By reflecting for a few minutes on the negative and giving advice on how to change their behavior in a positive way, the supervisors give the children a new insight into how they should deal with others.
Coping with Traumas at School
The Mindful Moments program is also intended to treat unprocessed trauma, something that many children struggle with. The number of pupils who have suffered a trauma in their young lives is alarmingly high.
Often, it is this trauma, or a lack of parenting, that causes the negative behavior of children in the classroom.
In Baltimore, the primary school where the experiment for school punishment with meditation is held, the traumas are often serious. Many children have had to deal with physical violence.
There are even children who have had to deal with violent cases, such as murder and manslaughter, in their immediate environment.
These cases definitely cause psychological damage. Damage that should be given a place through this ‘programme for punishment and discipline’, because solving traumas with meditation is certainly not a miracle solution.
Nevertheless, it does help children to relax more in class, even if it’s only to be away from school for a while and to have 1-on-1 contact with someone who wants to listen to their problems. The approach is positive, and so it’s a learning moment. It seems to make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of problem students at the school in Baltimore.
Perhaps such punishments in primary schools across the rest of the world should also be given a chance?