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Published: July 4, 2011


A form of elementary and secondary school punishment whereby a student is isolated from peers, either in a separate area of the classroom or outside the classroom. Ranked second in severity to corporal punishment, isolation in the typical one-room schoolhouse of centuries past took the form of standing or sitting in a corner of a classroom with one’s back to the class and, occasionally, wearing a tall, conically shaped, paper “DUNCE” cap. With multi-roomed school buildings, isolation usually takes the form of sending students to sit on a chair in the corridor outside the classroom door, where they are less of a distraction to other students. As an alternative, some students may be sent to sit by themselves in the principal’s waiting room prior to an eventual scolding. Most recently, isolation has taken the form of DETENTION by oneself, during or after school. Like any punishment, the effects of isolation vary widely from student to student, and it remains the subject of much debate among educators and psychologists.