No rules

More from Rich Dixon:


Last time I told you I’m not a fan of rules.

I’m not a theology guy, but I don’t believe we were designed for rules. I also hope Jesus shapes how I operate Monday – Saturday. Here’s an illustration from 35 years in public school classrooms.

For a big chunk of my career, I bought the false notion that students must be “managed” with lots of clear rules. I never questioned this conventional wisdom, never wondered why so many students chafed against artificial boundaries.

A few years before I retired, we started school with a different approach. Instead of listing the classroom rules, I explained that we would operate with a single guiding principle:

Everyone Gets Treated With Dignity And Respect.

I drew a circle and invited anyone who wanted to be treated with dignity and respect to step into the circle. Everyone did. “Okay, let’s get started.”

They had questions. (I’ll bet you do as well.)

So – can we come to class late?

Well, does wandering in late demonstrate respect for me and your classmates?

You could see the wheels turn – maybe there was more to this “no rules” thing. As you might imagine, going forward there were lots of similar conversations. But I discovered I’d rather invest time talking to kids and parents about relationships than enforcing detentions and tardies.

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Our new process had an unexpected additional benefit. Occasionally a kid who knew I was a believer would stop by and say something like, “You’re really just telling us to love our neighbor, right?”

I’d smile and reply, “Our secret, okay?” They liked that, I think.

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Once we got going, most of the time for most kids and parents, this whole thing was sort of a non-issue. It wasn’t perfect, or easy, but it was a much more relaxed way to work together.

Turns out Jesus was right. Things work pretty well when we love our neighbors.