Monday, March 7, 2022

Restorative circles are unethical and have no place in schools

In the past decade, the role of the teacher in schools has slowly shifted from pedagogue to therapist. Perhaps the most glaring example of this shift is the practice called “circle conversations.” These circles are cousins of the non-punitive approach to discipline called restorative justice, and are intended to be community-building prophylactics.

While the ritual—I mean classroom practice—can vary from school to school, it has a few common characteristics: students sit in a circle, pass around a talking piece, and discuss open-ended questions, often deeply personal ones. The NEA wrote positively of a school that incorporates them into classrooms weekly.