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Detention is used in the education system to discipline misbehaving children and is as old as school itself. It is a by-the-book form of discipline which aims to isolate an offender and have them reflect on their actions that got them into trouble. Detentions are usually given when a student misbehaves in class and is meant to be a small slap on the hand to make sure the offense is not repeated. It usually involves a student having to report to an authoritative figure during some of their free time to compensate for their actions.
Many students find this pointless since it takes up their time without any useful actions being taken. Sometimes students feel wronged and believe that the punishment they received was due to some form of bias that the teacher holds. The teachers however sometimes have to deal with students who are just outright rude and just won’t cooperate with them in the classroom. Both sides in the situation may feel that they are right and little communication often happens between the teacher and the student. While some teachers may try to communicate with an unruly student, sometimes teachers reach the point where they are exasperated. So how do we prevent either side from leaving the situation with a ill feelings?
A school in Brooklyn, New York seems to have come up with a good idea for this problem. Lyons Community School is a sixth through ninth grade school who since 2014 has started to try to find a solution to this problem. Lyon’s students are still given punishments such as detentions, suspensions, and expulsions. However, the school added an extra step to ensure a fairer system. Lyons has a student court, a watered down version of the United States Court system, which enables students to defend themselves against unfair punishments. In this system, there are three student judges who are supervised by an third party teacher. The judges hear a student’s appeal against a punishment, and also hear the teacher’s side for the punishment. They then make a decision in which the student may receive a different form of punishment varying from an apology to community service with the school. In this way students punishments are put to better use and students are able to mimic the real world legal system.
Though it is still being tested in various other schools besides Lyons, the student court system is an alternative to the current discipline system. Though it is still being tested out, its future looks promising.