At the boys' collège (secondary school) they have a system of crosses for bad behaviour and and when a certain number of crosses have been given it leads to a detention . So far Tom and Ben have received crosses for forgetting to do all or some of their homework, forgetting to take in a text book or suchlike and not handing in a form. Hardly huge errors in the great scheme of things but errors that are enough to get them a cross, although so far, luckily, not enough to receive a detention. I am assuming other transgressions will also merit a cross and I do know that for worst behaviour and for repeatedly forgetting something an immediate detention can be given.
So far so good. I do not have a problem with a school that expects it's pupils to do their homework, to behave and to not forget things. It builds good routines and organised students which are excellent life skills. Teachers need to teach and so if there is a disruptive pupil presumably it is hoped that a detention will help them to mend their ways. The trouble is I do not think this system works. The boys tell me that the disruptive and least organised pupils get detentions and then continue to be disruptive or to forget things. Why is this and what do I dislike detention?
Detention takes place on a Friday. Pupils are kept back for an hour after school and have to do a series of exercises set for them - academic exercises.
Dislike OneFor pupils who take a bus home (remember this school is in a rural area with a large catchment so many pupils rely on the bus) this means their parents will have to come and collect them later whilst those pupils who live in Condé can still walk home. The boys are actually more worried about how cross we will be if we have to come and collect them late than the actual detention which I suppose is a deterrent in itself but not quite as the school maybe envisaged it!
Dislike TwoPupils already have a very long day. Lessons start at 7.50am and home time is not until 4.35pm and there will then be homework to do. Perhaps a child is being naughty, not doing their homework and forgetting things because they are overly tired. Adding another hour of school in the form of detention is hardly going to be helpful.
Dislike ThreeTom got a sort of mini detention last year for some minor and long forgotten about misdemeanour. He was given a series of verbs to conjugate which he was able to do in a free period. He said it was actually no bother as he had no homework and it gave him something to do. However, what about the child who struggles academically? It will be harder for them so the punishment is hardly a level playing ground. For detention it is exactly the same. Sitting in a room after school and doing academic exercises will be much harder for some pupils than others. More than that though, I strongly believe that as a school is there to teach pupils you should never use academic exercises as a punishment. It is counter-productive.
That said, for all my dislikes I respect that this is the system and that there is a simple solution - do not get crosses! In theory, yes and we work hard with the boys to help them and hope that in time they will be organised enough to do this themselves. This is not the case for all families and children. I also wonder how detention could be better applied. I think it should be within school time and not academic based but I am not sure exactly what. Maybe some sort of community based work - clearing litter or raking leaves? I did know a head at a primary school in England who used to make disruptive pupils jog round the playground and he went with them. This was aimed at pupils who had too much energy to sit still and he felt fresh air and exercise was what they needed to help them to concentrate. Tom, our athlete, rather liked the sound of this for a punishment, so again - not a level playing ground.
What do you think about detention? Does your school use it, do you think it works or do you have any better ideas? Please do let us know in a comment.