There Are No Rules Here—We’re Trying to Accomplish Something!*

April 25, 2010

Beaver: The rules are a lot easier on grownups than they are on little boys.
Wally: Sure they are, Beave. The grownups make the rules.
• Leave It to Beaver, Season One, 1957

You’re a grownup. What rules have you created for your life? What do you do and refuse to do? Why? What rules do you believe other people should observe? I’ve been going through 3×5 cards looking for quotations to include on my summer syllabi and found this list of rules:

Living Wisdom School Rules

1) Enjoy yourself.
2) Practice kindness.
3) Choose happiness.
4) Be a loving friend.
5) Laugh often.
6) Trust yourself.
7) Find the joy within.
8) Use your will to create good energy. (I have an 8 here as in the numeral eight, following the numeral 7, but I see on looking at this post that it turns into a smiley face, and thus I am reminded that computers are mindless hunks of junk good only when I direct their doings.)

I Googled® Living Wisdom School to find out more. These are rules I could live by. These are rules I already try to live by. According their website (see http://www.livingwisdomschool.org/), the slogan of the Living Wisdom School in Palo Alto, California, is “Where Learning and Joy Come Together.” As a fun researcher, I was delighted to read further and discover this: “Our success is based on a tested principle: when children are happy, they approach learning with enthusiasm.” Indeed. Isn’t this true for pretty much everyone?

The LWS rules leave room for diversity, for creativity, for idiosyncracy, for individualizing, quite different from the kinds of rules often found in schools and other public spaces. As one of my students observed last year, “Is there anything more constrictive to learning and creativity than a room where the walls are plastered with what you cannot do?”

Yet as William Howard Taft, twenty-seventh President of the United States and our tenth Chief Justice—the only person to hold both offices—said, “No tendency is quite so strong in human nature as the desire to lay down rules of conduct for other people.” Sometimes we even create rules we can’t follow ourselves. Anyone who’s ever observed a group of teachers knitting, whispering, grading papers, passing notes, reading, and otherwise paying zero attention at a faculty meeting knows this.

What we would like to have happen is often far removed from what is realistically likely to happen, whether it’s in a classroom or at home or in line at the DMV. The Living Wisdom rules are appealing in part because they are positive, although they would take deliberate and ongoing attention to achieve. They’re all things that sound worthwhile—and easy—until you try to live them daily. I know because I try. The truth is, rules are no easier for grownups than they are for little boys.

Marilyn Monroe said that if she’d observed all the rules, she’d never have gotten anywhere. What rules have you questioned or broken? Why? What rules would you institute if you were designing a school to nurture the joys of creative learning (or whatever it is that your educational goals would be)? The Living Wisdom rules were stated in twenty-five words. Can you state yours in twenty-five words or less?

Freedom requires that you discover your own inner language—your own life rules—your own vision.
• Zephyr Bloch-Jorgensen

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible—the kind of atmosphere that is found in an nurturing family.
• Virgina Satir

* Thanks to Thomas Alva Edison for the title quotation.



  1. 1. Do not worry about right or wrong, focus on the process
    2. Try your hardest
    3. Encourage others
    4. Trust yourself
    5. Be kind
    6. Have fun

  2. WOW! Twenty-two terrific and meaningful words. W-OZ

  3. Rules to Encourage Creative Spirits in My Classroom (in 25 words or less):
    – Find a way to make your assignment fun and interesting for you
    – Be unique in what you do
    – Respect others’ uniqueness

  4. 1.Respect
    2.Think for yourself
    3.Value the journey not the destination
    4.Find relevance in each task
    5.Keep perspective in all tasks

  5. Live your life with purpose. Be truthful to your heart. Laugh. Observe. And most importantly, be kind. Think of your life as ‘Paying it forward”.

  6. 1. Contribute to the positivity of our classroom.
    2. Be creative and communicate.
    3. Practice self-control and work hard.
    4. Take care of each other.
    5. Bring flowers.

  7. 1. Trust God
    2. Ask for help
    3. Love your friends and enemies
    4. Put others first
    5. Speak with kindness
    6. Practice patience
    7. Forgive
    8. Be thankful
    9. Hold your family

  8. *Close your eyes & write your story
    *Open your eyes & live your life

  9. 1. Laugh…a lot!
    2. Smile 🙂
    3. Do your personal best
    4. Trust in yourself
    5. Have Fun

  10. Rules to Encourage Creative Spirits in My Classroom (in 25 words or less)
    1. Just Do It!
    2. Try, Try, Try, Try, Try
    3. Be true to yourself, without hurting others
    4. Think normal, then think differently (outside the box)
    5. Be respectful

  11. 1. Laugh often

    2. Love much

    3. Listen always

    4. Learn as much as possible

    5. Let it out!! – Don’t be afraid to share your ideas. All ideas are valuable.

  12. 1. Listen to everyone
    2. Ask questions
    3. Look for alternatives
    4. Breathe life
    5. Enjoy the music

  13. 1. Be yourself
    2. Go with your first gut feeling
    3. Have Fun
    4. Laugh
    5. Respect yourself and others
    6. Do your best
    7. When one door shuts, another opens

  14. You can’t top the Living Wisdom Rules, but I’ll try.

    1. Try to make others smile.
    2. Try to make yourself smile.
    3. If what you’re doing makes others smile, do it more.

  15. 1. Realize today is a NEW day.
    2. YOU are responsible for YOUR actions.

    • 1. Believe in yourself

      2. Try something new today

      3. Compliment someone

      4. Celebrate your success

      5. Learn from your mistakes

      6. Have fun

  16. 1. Enter each day with anticipation
    2. Enjoy the journey of learning
    3. Spread laughter
    4. Become a Creative problem Solver
    5. Respect each other
    6. Be your true self

  17. 1. Respect youself and others.
    2. Learn to laugh.
    3. Keep your eyes and ears open.

  18. 1. Be courteous, kind and respectful
    2. Give smiles and compliments
    3. Be proud of your work
    4. Accept responsiblity for your actions
    5. Learn something from every experience

  19. 1. Be your best self.
    2. Laugh a lot.
    3. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
    4. Share your feelings.
    5. Make friends.

  20. 1. Be respectful
    2. Enjoy life
    3. Be a friend

  21. As renowned college football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said, “Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” I would change this quote only slightly to, “Show class, have pride, and display character. Respect yourself and others and the rest takes care of itself.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: