By Luis De La Torre
Students are all too familiar with the dreaded words: “Young lady/man, ID please.” You take out your ID, hearing the staff member radio you in, after which you are sent to the Dean’s Office. It feels almost as if you’re being arrested. Students all dread that moment when they are assigned hours of detention.
We often feel demeaned by being assigned detention, as if we have committed a crime whether or not we feel we deserved it. Sometimes we know we were in the wrong and feel bad about the situation. But other times, when we do not understand or agree, there isn’t much of a conversation; it is just a punishment. We should have something in place that helps students do better rather than just punishing them.
“It doesn’t do anything; it just makes you fear the punishment not the action,” senior Matthew Galvan said.
The assignment of detention usually begins with a very public statement of non-compliance in front of the student’s peers which can be embarrassing. Students are told to leave classrooms or are stopped in the middle of hallways to be questioned. This creates a gap between students and their educators, which can make it difficult for them to communicate either on an educational or personal level. It can even result in distrust for teachers and staff if they feel targeted. Often, students feel the staff is watching them waiting for them to make a mistake so they can give them detention rather than recognizing them for their achievements.
Students may be facing issues at home and need an adult to talk to, but the gap that arises because of detention removes that avenue of communication.
More focus should be put on the improvement students make throughout their academic year rather than the mistakes they make. When students do make mistakes, instead of punishing them, students should be encouraged to have in-depth discussions with counselors and parents. Most of the time, simply asking the student why they did something or what it was that made them upset will lead to an effective discussion.
Former educator and lecturer at Leeds University, Dr. Ruth Payne argues that students may learn that bad behavior leads to negative consequences, but they are not learning how to behave better.
Rather than detention, we could implement workshops for the students to learn how to behave better such as workshops on work ethics, self-identity, and prioritizing goals.
On top of these programs, more programs can be established to assist students on focusing on a career path and useful skills. Students can start training or get hands on experience in their fields of interest which would motivate them.
Students could also be given the chance to volunteer within their communities, as this gives students a bigger perspective on how they can help their community and provides a sense of accomplishment. This would show them their capabilities and give them practice with necessary skills such as leadership and work habits.
The school could also offer more opportunities to keep students occupied so that they are less likely to have bad behavior. For instance, the school could offer more intramural sports or allowing students more opportunities for creative expression within the arts. Both of these can involve team building exercises which helps students communicate with peers more effectively and work in groups.
Applying these new methods of helping student perform better will benefit them rather than stifle their personal growth. Any student from troubled youth to a student who has gotten detention for their first time can see improvement in their performance and will learn how to avoid these issues in the future.