There is a school in New Zealand called Swanson Primary. Recently, they looked upon the chaos of recess and decided, in order to resolve it, to do away with playground rules.
For most people, such an idea will bring visions of Lord of the Flies. They can imagine only the worst, that surely pretty much every child will end up hurt.
The exact opposite happened. Playground accidents went down. So, too, did bullying. It turned out that in a more relaxed atmosphere, there was less tension, and thus less cause for distraction and anger. The kids looked out for each other and respected each other because it made sense, not because it was forced.
How does this come back around to Sudbury? It can’t be said that we have no rules. But we do have fewer rules, and those rules that do exist are a) determined by the students and b) related to safety and other people’s boundaries. And we see the same level of safety as Swanson Primary has discovered.
Less concentration on authority, better results. It works everywhere.
Sean Vivier, MLSS Staff
Kids these days. I tell ya. They keep making roughly the same mistakes we made when we were their age. Being inconsiderate at times, when it doesn’t occur to them. Trying things too hastily. Taking risks. Experimenting with swear words. Clumsy first attempts. Losing their tempers. Handling interpersonal conflicts with less than diplomacy. All the same mistakes of human nature, minus our years of experience. Not learning better until after they make the mistake, just like we did.
What’s more, these kids are growing up in a culture where violent crime rates are plunging and the non-profit sector is growing. Why, when we were their age, violence was far more common and charity far less so.
Kids these days.
Sean Viver, MLSS Staff
Liam Marshall-Butler is currently a student at MLSS.