...I Have Some Class Rules.

I’m sitting in my office at home, in front of my computer, on the Sunday before school begins, dutifully prepping the upcoming year: building upon the things that went well last year, implementing the inspirations had mid-lesson, re-thinking or outright scrapping the things that stunk, trying to ideate some innovations, and tweaking my syllabi accordingly.


As I work on this handout that I know few will read (based on the many questions asked throughout the year whose answers are easily found within its text), I come to the “Class Policies” section. It gives me the most pause every year. I can’t help but think of how many other teachers are busily assembling the class rules and penalty documents for distribution on the first day of school. With each passing year, these reams of paper begin to resemble the US tax code in size, scope, severity and arbitrariness.


“Welcome back kids! Here’s the list of ways we expect you to screw-up and be punished over the next 180 days. If you do not bring this document back to school tomorrow, signed by a parent, the cycle of punishment will begin with all due haste!”

How many of you have seen these repressions posted in their wonderfully colorful and laminated glory throughout classrooms? I have decided to destroy that section of my syllabus, remembering a YouTube video I saw some time ago on the Constitution of the Republic of Užupis, an independent republic which is actually a neighborhood in the city of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The Constitution has 41 articles. They are:


1. Everyone has the right to live by the River Vilnelė, and the River Vilnelė has the right to flow by everyone.

2. Everyone has the right to hot water, heating in winter and a tiled roof.

3. Everyone has the right to die, but this is not an obligation.

4. Everyone has the right to make mistakes.

5. Everyone has the right to be unique.

6. Everyone has the right to love.

7. Everyone has the right not to be loved, but not necessarily.

8. Everyone has the right to be undistinguished and unknown.

9. Everyone has the right to be idle.

10. Everyone has the right to love and take care of a cat.

11. Everyone has the right to look after the dog until one of them dies.

12. A dog has the right to be a dog.

13. A cat is not obliged to love its owner, but must help in time of need.

14. Sometimes everyone has the right to be unaware of their duties.

15. Everyone has the right to be in doubt, but this is not an obligation.

16. Everyone has the right to be happy.

17. Everyone has the right to be unhappy.

18. Everyone has the right to be silent.

19. Everyone has the right to have faith.

20. No one has the right to violence.

21. Everyone has the right to appreciate their unimportance.

22. No one has the right to have a design on eternity.

23. Everyone has the right to understand.

24. Everyone has the right to understand nothing.

25. Everyone has the right to be of any nationality.

26. Everyone has the right to celebrate or not celebrate their birthday.

27. Everyone shall remember their name.

28. Everyone may share what they possess.

29. No one can share what they do not possess.

30. Everyone has the right to have brothers, sisters and parents.

31. Everyone may be independent.

32. Everyone is responsible for their freedom.

33. Everyone has the right to cry.

34. Everyone has the right to be misunderstood.

35. No one has the right to make another person guilty.

36. Everyone has the right to be individual.

37. Everyone has the right to have no rights.

38. Everyone has the right to not to be afraid.

39. Do not defeat

40. Do not fight back

41. Do not surrender


Hmmm… I wonder if there’s enough plastic in the laminator…

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