In 2017, a school in Maryland did something amazing—it got rid of detention. Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore replaced detention with meditation and mindfulness training.
As a testament to the power of mindfulness, the school has not had to suspend a student in over a year.
I find this fascinating, and I think that the rest of the world can learn a few lessons from this pioneering breakthrough in education. Here are three things you can take away.
Mindfulness Training Lesson #1: Stop Punishing Yourself
Every school has children who misbehave, but what the people at Robert W. Coleman understood when they implemented this new program is that punishments like detention do little to curb unwanted behavior. Think about the last time you made a poor decision. Did you punish yourself?
I’m not talking about giving yourself a timeout in the corner.
What I’m talking about is the way that you felt about yourself after making the decision. Did you call yourself “stupid”? Did you deprive yourself of something you enjoy or feel like you didn’t deserve to be happy? These are some of the types of thoughts and actions—little punishments in themselves—that get in the way of living life to the fullest.
Stop punishing yourself. Rather, think about what you can learn from your decisions.
Mindfulness Training Lesson #2: Self-Reflection is Powerful
When you think about what led to a mistake, you can see the incremental circumstances that make you do what you do. If you’re trying to correct negative or harmful behavior, you need to go to the source. Mindfulness training allows you a view of yourself that can be quite revealing.
The administration and faculty at Robert W. Coleman Elementary understand that children who misbehave don’t need (or respond to) punishment, so they’ve taken the punishment of detention out of their disciplinary policies. The result? Children who misbehave are no longer made to feel bad about their actions. Instead, the teachers encourage them to reflect. What caused them to act out? Were they stressed? Bored? Once they understand the “why” of their behavior they can move on and develop ways to cope.
Mindfulness Training Lesson #3: When the Going Gets Tough, Stop and Breathe
Aside from having zero suspensions, Robert W. Coleman Elementary know they are getting results because their students are learning from their mindfulness instructions and teaching others. Here’s what the co-founder of the organization that the school brought in to help with their students’ mindfulness says: “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, hey mom, I need to teach you how to breathe.’”
Learning to breathe is such an effective way to lower stress levels and center yourself, and these kids understand it well enough to teach their parents! How cool is that?!
Check out the video from Upworthy below.
Interested in mindfulness training? Contact me today!