Class Detention

I never once got detention in school. This wasn’t because I was a goody-goody. I just always wanted to leave on time so I never did anything to warrant detention.

But there was that one time, wasn’t there? I was part of a “class detention” where we were all kept back for one kid’s misbehaviour. I think the logic was to turn us against him, or maybe the teacher wasn’t sure which of us had thrown the ball of paper or whatever it was.

I’m not sure what reminded me of this today but when I remembered the incident I was surprised to still feel angry about it.

After all, why should we all be punished for someone else’s crime? Why should my parents worry when I didn’t arrive home on time? Most importantly, my personal record of not getting detention was 100% unblemished except for this one minor exception. I wouldn’t consciously count it as a detention, obviously, but it remains the one complication to stop me from standing up in a court of law to solemnly swear that I never got detention in high school. It’s the detail that might make a lie detector spike someday; a microscopic imperfection in my personal narrative that will be with me until I die. Where did that teacher get off?

What I should have done is put my exercise books away as usual, casually shouldered my school bag, and calmly made for the door. When the teacher inevitably said, “and where do you think you’re going, Wringham?” I could have said, “you have no legal or moral reason to detain me” and walked out. I should have gone home and watched Batman Forever on VHS.

It would have been an act of real Escapology. The door was unlocked and I could have opened it and walked out. Righteously. The audience would have cheered.

What would he have done? A teacher can’t physically restrain a pupil. I daresay he’d have referred me to the head master to whom, the following day, I could have restated my position: “He had no legal or moral reason to detain me.” Any further discussion would have been on school time instead of my own.

Man, that would have been delicious.

If you’re a kid in school and you’re ever in the same situation, do that. Avenge me!

See also: I’m Out: How to Make an Exit.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

One Response to “Class Detention”

  1. […] A recent article by Robert Wringham (an author I enjoy and who’s books I recommended in a recent post) had me thinking about collective punishment in the workplace. In many ways this is related to F-U money, but I think it applies to employment generally. Wringham’s post describes receiving a collective class detention, the point of which is to have the students unfairly punished turn on those responsible for causing the situation. I’ll be honest, early in my career I did put an entire class in detention more than once…but I challenge him to stand in front of 30 baying little psychopaths like I encountered in the U.K. and not do something drastic to try and establish a modicum of control. That said, it’s not something I’ve done for many, many years. […]

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