Their experience showed that contrary to common sense, aggression, accidents and the stress of enforcing rules are all reduced and transformed when rules were discarded by the staff in a collaborative process. There were three non-profit site centers (63 students in a university campus, 42 children in a workplace setting, and 32 children in high school). All are in inclusive settings with resource teacher consultants for children with special needs. There was a lot of diversity in the three centers including speakers of English as a second language, newly arrived immigrants, children from a single parent family, etc. All centers were practicing the conventional way, which was rule-based. There was an abundance of Do’s and Don’ts, in other words, over-regulation, which was suffocating the children. They also found out that it was draining the teachers just policing and redirecting the children.
Finally, they found out that there was a better way of doing these things. With the influence of the Reggio Emilia Approach in their series of workshops, they were able to question old concepts and approaches. They initiated new and innovative ways to make learning more meaningful and stress-free. The operative word was “collaboration”. With brilliant results emanating from the reduction of rules in a setting, it also led to explorations with the physical environment, such as redesigning the layout of the cots at naptime, enlarging the block area from 4 ft by 6 ft to 10 ft by 20 ft, thereby giving ample space to chidren with better results. They also started redecorating their environs with Monet prints, flowers and even the bathrooms to make for a calmer effect on the children.
As a result, the rule-driven, clock-driven practice was changed into values-based, responsive pedagogy. Of course, there were some who were resistant to change. Eventually, they had to embrace the new innovation because it lessened ...Show more