Remember School Detention? Anybody…?

“I was rather a poor student, too easily distracted – did a lot of gazing out of windows, fine for training to be a writer, but not a great way to achieve in the classroom. The truth is that I was happy to bumble along and do enough to avoid detention, but not much more.” ~ Michael Morpurgo

I understand why schools have detention, but I have a fundamental problem with it. It is not always fair and can be a lazy teacher’s shortcut to an easy answer. Let me give you an example.

My parents moved from idyllic suburb in Ottumwa to the city center. The draw was a lovely vintage house. Both parents would be closer to work. But they varied from their relocation playbook, the one I followed when my kids lived at home—rule one, find the best schools where you are moving to and locate there.

Detention01I had never had detention until I moved to this cultural ghetto. There were troubled kids in this school that did nothing but cause trouble. Their raison d’etre was to start fights, miss school, and who knows what else.

I had to walk over a mile to school and I carried my alto sax—yeah I was a band geek. Quelle surprise! One day as I walked to school I was accosted by one of these ruffians. He came running at me and I knew I was in trouble, so I swang my sax case at his head and connected just as he was about to hit me.

Well, a teacher was called as we wrestled, and we were “apprehended”. So here’s a kid who is in detention every week, who probably should not be in school and me, a band geek with no record of every causing teachers or students problems. We were both kicked out of school. I was basically told that if I didn’t defend myself, there would have never been a fight. That it takes two to fight.

So when I saw this on the Intertubes, I had to share.


I probably learned a lot from being forced out of school for that week, or the following detentions I got at that school. Mercifully, we moved shortly there after, I was in that school less than a year. But I still wonder about a school system that has a zero tolerance for fighting but won’t address problem children head on.

About Gandalfe

Just an itinerant saxophonist trying to find life between the changes. I have retired from the Corps of Engineers and Microsoft. I am an admin on the Woodwind Forum, run the Seattle Solid GOLD Big Band (formerly the Microsoft Jumpin' Jive Orchestra) a GOLD sax quartet, and enjoy time with family and friends.
This entry was posted in Education, Health and wellness, Humor, Internet, teachers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Remember School Detention? Anybody…?

  1. Doug Finlayson says:

    Wow. I guess you should have let the bully pummel you as much as he wanted. Schools are such bastions of mediocrity.

  2. juliov27612 says:

    Hmmm… that letter shows that there is no room for thinking in school. Of course, your defending yourself on the way to school should have had no impact on your school attendance. Even on school grounds, I would think that the ruffian’s record would have made your punishment a little different.

  3. Bertie says:

    Interesting post, Jim. I agree wholeheartedly. It was a bad deal.

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