A Tale of Two Classrooms -- Rules unnecessary

This is the tenth in a ten-part series based on the poster: A Tale of Two Classrooms.


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Rules unnecessary

       Rules govern behavior.  Hence, rules are only necessary when behavior needs to be governed.

       When my child began high school, he was presented with ten school rules.  One of these rules was:
Every student must provide their name when asked to do so by an adult.

This was many years ago, but I still remember it because it seemed like such a strange rule.  I thought, "What student wouldn't give their name when an adult asked for it?"  But I assumed that this was a problem in the school and the school decided that this was sufficiently important of a problem to make the list of top ten school rules [!].  Despite this (disturbing) fact, I can certainly envision a high school that does not have this rule because this sort of behavior occurs so rarely that it doesn't make sense to include it in the official school rules.

       On the other hand, schools certainly have a number of rules that are very necessary because some behaviors may disrupt the learning process, cause harm to students or adults, or are considered unacceptable in a school setting.  These are generally rules that some students and/or adults might not follow if there were no such rules in place.

       Now imagine a classroom in which such rules were not necessary.  Students respect each other; students do their best to learn everyday; students help each other; and adults and students work together to think, reason, debate, create, and learn.  This sort of classroom would have less of a need for strict rules because there is already an understanding of purpose and acceptable behavior.  

       And this really isn't some sort of utopian view of the world.  All of us have had a class in school that we really liked.  Maybe we liked the teacher or the subject or the other students in the class or all three of these attributes.  In this class there was very little behavior that required a recitation of the school rules to address.  When someone did something unacceptable, a peer or leader would speak to that person--or the person would notice the fault on their own--and the problem was over.  More importantly, everyone in the classroom is focused on doing their best and helping each other and making the best use of their class time.


       When school is focused on the needs of the learner and the students understand their purpose and responsibilities, the rules become unnecessary.  This is the classroom that I want to be part of; this is the classroom that I want to lead.  This is the classroom where I can truly learn.


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