Just in time for Village, the Herons had a fascinating conversation about laws on Thursday. We have a class guideline: If the predicted high for the day is 70 or greater, you may wear shorts. On Thursday, the predicted high was sixty degrees...so no one was wearing shorts. But we went out for a soccer game and then recess and by the time we got back in, we were really hot.
One student asked if he could take his pants off because he had put on shorts underneath when he got dressed in the morning.
The room erupted, "That's not fair!" "He shouldn't be allowed to have shorts, the predicted high wasn't 70!" Others disagreed, "Whatever...he should wear shorts if he's hot." "You just think it's unfair because you want to wear shorts." "If you had thought of it, you wouldn't have a problem with it." We were just entering lunch time and I let the conversation continue for a little bit. "He followed the rule - he wore pants to school..." "I think it's fine...if he gets cold he can put his pants back on and that's why we have the rule so that we don't complain of being cold."
I chimed in at that point asking the students if they remembered why we had the rule, "You need us to be ready to spend an hour or more outside in case we're doing a lesson or something."
Had the pants/shorts child followed the rule? "Yes." was the response from everyone, albeit some were a little grumpy. I introduced the concept of the "letter of the law" and the "spirit of the law." He had technically followed the rule...is it possible that he had also followed the spirit? After all, he could put pants back on if he needed to. There was a lot of conversation about this. "It's hard to learn if you're hot, too," the pants/shorts child pointed out, hopefully.
I asked the class if they would feel it was fair if I officially amended the rule so that students could wear shorts under their pants if they wanted to and could ask to change if they got hot. The response was unanimous...yes, that would be fair. So we have officially amended the rule - students may wear "just in case shorts" under their pants. I think that the work of figuring out why a rule exists and what it's meant to do will be very useful as students begin to form ideas for creating laws in their own Village.