By DEVON ST. CLAIRE
A system that funnels troubled students through disciplinary program after program is termed as the, “school-to-prison pipeline.” Most troubled students already struggle with difficult lives and Carla Amurao for PBS’ Tavis Smiley Reports writes, school detentions, suspensions, and often expulsions further aggravate a troubled home life sending children “back to the origin of their angst and unhappiness—their home environments or their neighborhoods.”
Carla Amurao continues to shed light on the fact that harsh disciplinary policies don’t actually change behavior, and “statistics reflect that these policies disproportionately target students of color and those with a history of abuse, neglect, poverty or learning disabilities.”
Most students are treated as problems to be quarantined, rejected or abandoned for their mistakes. Meanwhile a lot of their mistakes or wrong choices are made because they are carrying significant stresses and setbacks. Instead of rejecting a human being for their weaknesses or inabilities to cope with the stresses of life, why not teach students effective means of coping with stress and setbacks? If prayer and meditation help a child deal with difficulty early in life it will be a positive quality to have when life becomes more demanding into adulthood.
One school in Baltimore is attempting to equip their students with a yoga and meditation program during and after school that takes the place of detention and other punishments, CBS News Reports.
Newsweek writes, Twice a day there is yoga and a mindfulness practice during school hours for all students, called “Mindful Moments.” Disruptive students are brought into a room where they can pray and practice their breathing, they have a discussion with a counselor, and they are then instructed on how to manage their emotions. There is also an after-school program called Holistic Me, which “hosts 120 male and female students.” The program involves yoga, breathing exercises and meditative prayer activities.
Research studies have proven that these kind of activities significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and to improve concentration and memory. Administers at Coleman have already noticed a difference in the first year that the Holistic Me program has been introduced to pre-kindergarden through fifth-grade students. Principal Carlillian Thompson said, “Instead of the students fighting or lashing out, they started to use words to solve their problems.” Many of the students have become leaders and high achievers and none of the students in the program have received suspensions or detentions.
In 2001, the program was founded by Baltimore locals, brothers Atman and Ali Smith and their friend Andres Gonzalez. The Holistic Life Foundation and its partners have offered a variety of enrichment activities but focused primarily on yoga and mindfulness practices in the past 15 years.
Students learn to resolve conflicts peacefully and to reduce the amount of emotional turmoil in their lives, by using these techniques. This kind of intervention prepares them for academic and social resilience rather than further alienating or traumatizing the one’s who are already stressed-out.
By receiving federal funding and delivering programs to Charlottesville, Minneapolis, Madison, and abroad the foundation has rapidly expanded since 2015. This innovative technique has shown a constructive way forward for other schools like Baltimore’s Patterson High. The school recently adopted a 15-minute yoga and mindfulness practice at the beginning and end of each day for every one of its students. This alternative has proven successful in Baltimore and the techniques will be carried with each student for the rest of their lives.
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