Outcomes Offered

■ Appreciation of the reasons for rules

■ Appreciation of the benefits of rules

I bet if I asked most kids your age what they thought about rules they would screw up their noses and say that they hated them. Like when parents say, "If you want to go to the movies this afternoon you need to tidy up your room, that is the rule"—most kids answer, "I hate rules."

I have a friend, a teacher, who tends to teach in some unusual ways. She asks kids what they think about rules and gets the usual response. So then she plays a game with them. She has a big plastic sheet of Chutes and Ladders that she spreads out on the floor. She splits the class into three or four teams and asks them to play against her to see who can win. When it comes to her turn she rolls the dice two or three times in a row.

"Hey, you can't do that," some of the kids will object.

When she lands on a chute, she might move on to the next ladder and climb up rather than slide down to the end of the chute.

"Hey, you can't do that," object the kids even more strongly.

"Why not?" she asks.

"Because it's against the rules," assert the kids.

"What does it matter?" my teacher friend asks.

"It isn't fair," they respond. "You're cheating. We're not equal and everyone should have the same chance."

She then begins to ask her class why they think there are rules in school, in the playground, on the football field, on the roads when we are riding a bike, or at home. Her students often come up with lots of reasons for rules. Things work better when we have rules, they say. Or, if we didn't have rules at an intersection how would we be able to ride our bikes safely, or walk across the road with all the cars, trucks, and buses around? Everyone could be in a lot of trouble. Rules help people to get along better together. If we follow the rules not to steal other people's things or to hurt others, we get along better together. Rules exist for our safety and our well-being.

Then she might give them some egg cartons, sheets ofcardboard, felt pens, plastic discs, and dice, asking them to get into small groups and make up their own games but without any rules. It is not long before the kids are calling to her, "Teacher, we can't do it. How can we have a game without rules? It's impossible even to play without rules."

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