If your consequence isn’t relevant, it’s nonsense. Detention is both cruel and irrelevant, it is simply an extension of the prison idea of solitary — and the student, no matter how well meaning you are, will simply understand that you have the power and they do not.

In real life consequences are directly tied to events, and they are minimal and unimportant — you’re not paying attention and you bump into someone, or serious and big — you drive drunk and kill someone, but the consequences (I feel guilty, or, I’m going to prison) are derived from the actions.

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Teacher discipline cannot be seen this way because it is inevitably prison yard discipline — with one person holding unchecked power over many others. Only by creating a classroom environment based in Universal Design, Instructional Tolerance, and Student Agency, can you create a citizenship belief system that intrinsically controls behaviors.

  • Ira Socol

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Author, Dreamer, Educator: A life in service - NYPD, EMS, disabilities/UDL specialist, tech and innovation leader for education. Co-author of Timeless Learning

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