Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why No Rules is the Best Rule

I was reading Let Me Tell You a Story: A Lifetime in the Game, written by Red Auerbach. Red won eight straight National Basketball Association championships with the Boston Celtics. He was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1965, and in 1968, was elected into the NBA Hall of Fame. As General Manager, Red Auerbach teams won seven more championships. He is credited today as being the main factor in building the popularity of the NBA.

Red had one rule when it came to team rules: he didn't have any rules.
If you make rules, set curfews, things like that, then you put yourself in a position where one guy screwing up can hurt the whole team. I never had an ironclad rule on anything because I wanted flexibility. If I had ironclad rules, then I had to enforce them equally. That's not always the best thing for the team.

I started thinking about how this relates to the classroom. A strict, law and order based classroom might work for some teachers and students, but for the majority it fits like a shirt collar that is too tight. It starts out causing a little irritation. As the day goes on, it begins to chafe more and more. By the end of the day, little else matters but to get free of the irritation and get on something more comfortable. Or, in the case of the classroom, get to some place more comfortable.

Bill Russell, the Hall of Fame Center for the Celtics, said about Red:
He never made any pretensions about treating players the same. In fact, he treated everybody very differently. Basically, Red treats people as they perceive themselves. What he did best was to create a forum, but one where individuals wouldn't be confined by the system. And he understood the chemistry of a team. People tend to think teamwork is some mysterious force. It isn't. It can, really, be manufactured, and he knew how to do that, to serve each player's needs.

If you were to ask, I am sure all students would say they want to be treated fairly. But, this brings up the often argued point that being treated fair is not the same as being treated equal. No one could ever argue for treating students unfairly, but there are a lot of reasons for not treating all students the same. This would only work if all students were the same.

In Reading Workshop, there are only two rules:
1. Work your hardest;
2. Treat others with respect.

If students follow these two rules, they will be successful. Every student I know of that followed these rules was successful. I think Red had it right--treat every player student as an individual, and help them find the way to their own success.


Anonymous said...

Mr.Mcguire I think rules are important if we had no rules we would have kids bouncing off the walls. Now that would be bad. I think there are rules that are needed some places. But I guess some where and some places need no rules at all like you were saying about the basketball coach. Every situation is a little different just like every kid is a little different.

Anonymous said...

Some kids may think that we do not need rules but rules are what keeps me organized.Still some rules are not needed like the basketball coach. Some kids need different rules apply to different people. Other people might need more, some less.

Anonymous said...

Yes I also think that we need rules because if we did not have rules then there would be no point to even have the teacher/coach. I need rules so that I can learn and stay organized like lily. Sometimes kids might think that we don't need them but in the end they know that we do. I also think that people should have rules that are good for them not that everybody should have the same amount of rules.

Anonymous said...

With no rules kids would be getting in trouble 24/7 also if you think about it we have to many rules. i think we need to have rules or our world would be a mess and no place I would want to live in.But at the same time so many people are breaking the rules. I think we have to many rules. I have no clue what are world would be like without rules i i am for sure iI don't want to find out.

loonyhiker said...

I think a classroom needs rules just like our society needs laws. If we didn't have them, there would be chaos. I think there is such a thing as too many rules and too many laws. There can be a basic set of rules that can cover most things. I guess that is why there were Ten Commandments instead of a million. I think more important than having many laws is that the teacher be consistent in enforcing the rules that do exist.

Mr. McGuire said...

Heather, Des, and loonyhiker,

I guess you just don't think the two rules of Reading Workshop

1. Work your hardest;
2. Treat others with respect.

are enough to maintain order? Realistically, the unspoken rules of the classroom maintain order and organization. You make good points.