Rules are rules are rules

Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together.- Ray Bradbury

Chaos is more freedom; in fact, total freedom. But no meaning.- Audrey Niffenegger,

For the sake of pragmatism, let’s call it through underestimation, a turn of events, but we now find ourselves where the rules create the disorder rather than the order. It’s problematic, but perhaps not how you may think. As opposed to being presented with a set of rules that look to sequence and structure, direct and command what it is that we set out to achieve, much of our energy will be spent splitting nails and forcing joins between what we knew to be true and what we have now instead. There comes the contention: we must make sense of what possibly does not. We must create new patterns from the patterns we already made.

Instead of lingering over that statement, it seems more relevant to settle around why the rule is there, and who it seems to serve. A rule is only a rule after all, if it exists to regulate or improve us: indeed, Picasso said we should ‘learn the rules like a pro, you can break them like them artist.’ We hold rules in high regard within schools, but they enable us to teach young people incredible things. The rules provide the safety, reassurance and intellectual protection for us all to know that what the actions we then undertake are good, and purposeful, and accepted. From a very young age, we wait for the rules as a way of knowing we can proceed, because they give us a way of knowing that it’s ok- what we do is the right thing.

And so, what happens if the rules do not act a safe hold, but instead the existence of the rule fuels an ungovernable sense of uncertainty that in fact hinders anything that may happen as a result? Furthermore, what if the rule becomes the definition, as opposed to the pathway to what would hoped would take place within the attentive security of the rule?

And so, perhaps we must think about what the rule hoped to do, rather than the substance of the rule as it were. We hoped the rule would support learning, let’s say, or we hoped the rule would support a feeling of safety, let’s say. We supposed just saying the rule a few times as a helpful reminder would keep the order, let’s say. And it’s not. Then what?

Well, then we might look to who the rule was for, and how we might deliver the rule in such a way that we can still make that group of individuals experience the emotions and feelings that we hoped by delivering the rule- which must exist- using a design that will achieve all of those entities without compromise or distortion.

People feel safe when we speak, not shout.

People feel a sense of order when we explain, not dictate.

People feed from anticipation of excitement, not of dread.

As we journey through the next few days, the rules we hold to be true will be the ones that young people we serve will need the most. They will look to us to create the structure they need, using a design that they recognise: enabling rules not to hinder but as a gateway for the brilliant part to happen. Where warm-strict has always given platforms for greater work, ensuring our fusion of rules- of what has always been and what is new- will be best served with the kindness that children recognise. Rules can be beautiful, if we centre them around the person we sculpt them for.

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