Why Do Students Follow Their Own Rules?

In yesterday’s post (Who Writes the Class Rules), I talked about having students write the rules for their class. However, I did not talk about why this is important. Why would students follow their own rules when they break school rules? How different are student-written rules from faculty/administration-written rules?

Students follow their own rules because they came up with them. These rules may not differ qualitatively from the longer lists that adults would write, but they are owned by the students. The students understand what the rules are and what they mean because the rules came from within themselves.

Ownership for students–for any of us, actually–should include not only the rules, but also the class. When students own the class, they are more apt to participate and learn. Tomorrow, I will talk about how to “give” a class to the students.

Please share any comments, ideas, and experiences below. Thanks for sharing my thoughts!

By the way, there are two comments from readers on yesterday’s blog–both relate to classes, but one also addresses the idea of participatory “ownership” in business.


2 thoughts on “Why Do Students Follow Their Own Rules?

  1. Hi..I was a Theater Teacher in the NYC school system for a bit, and I combined their rule with mine (I had a "What Makes A Successful Drama Classroom" poster made up). Since I saw 24 different classes a week, I had to have one main standard, but each class added.
    I found that giving them more open choices throughout the year engaged them in better class behavior (empowering them or as you posted, giving them the class). The rules, like everything else, gets lost if it's just UP THERE on the wall. You HAVE to revisit it again and again.

  2. Hi Eleanore, connecting with you from the ultimate challenge. I agree with you with regards to students following their own rules. I think even with adults if you give them a bit of responsibility, they would like to to take ownership of it.