2 V 2

It wasn’t even an eventful day. Yet things happened that stood out, as always.

First there was a relatively innocuous moment that started the day. It seems that the people who run the daily concession had found an innovative way to store some of the “leftover” cardboard, which accumulates quickly when you are keeping a whole school full of snack eaters happy. There were some large boxes which had not been broken down hanging out in the cubbies of the two people who run the concession.

A complaint was filed. The people who run the concession have a written contract with the School Meeting that includes (of course) provisions relating to trash disposal. It was not conceived, at the writing of the contract, that anyone would bring un-broken-down boxes to the second floor and store them in their cubby. The JC was a little surprised and decided, after more than a little debate, to charge the concessionaires with breaking their contract. When one concessionaire pointed out that he would not plead guilty because it wasn’t stipulated that you had to leave the trash in the cellar, the case collapsed, and the Physical Plant Committee quickly issued an overdue stipulation about what could or couldn’t go in cubbies and drawers for the future.

So much so good. It was outside the JC, where I was, that was so interesting. Clumps of people all over were taking a look at the contract – I would say there were at least 20 “viewings” by people who had nothing to do with the JC meeting. And people were debating the pros and cons of charging the concessionaires with littering – was it really? – or with violating the contract – was it really? Everyone knew there was something wrong with those giant boxes sitting in cubbies, but that did not mean they had broken a rule. It entranced me that it was a subject of interest at all, let alone a subject of wide interest. But it mainly interested me to see how the waves rippled out from the Judicial Committee, before it had even finished its own deliberations. I always feel that an examination of ethical issues is one of the things that a student cannot help gaining here. One can avoid algebra entirely, even for 12 or 14 years if s/he wants to; but ethical issues, no one can avoid. Why do I consider this an ethical issue? Because no one in the school, ever, wants to charge others with breaking rules unless there is really a rule that is broken, even if what they did seemed “wrong”! That was why it was so important and so interesting.

That same day, the lights were out in one of the two big fixtures in our sewing room. This year there has been a large, intense, active group, usually mostly of boys, who bring their computers to school and do what they will around the sewing room table. (Not to be confused with kids using computers in many other parts of the school.) Always there are about a half dozen computers and about a dozen and a half people, watching, kibitzing, offering advice, joining in the (no pun intended) electrical charge of the room. The electricians came to fix the fixture. I walked into the room with them so that they didn’t have to be the “bad guys” clearing out the area, and imperiously said, “you all have to find another room to play in”. One of the boys looked at me with perhaps the most plaintive look I have ever seen and said, “but we are playing 2V2.” Even I could see that it was somehow important. “Two computers against two computers?” I asked. Plaintively again, but sweetly, “yes”. We decided the whole mob of them could just scoot down and gather (squish) around the far end of the table. The ladder was not in their way; they were not in the electricians’ way. Life could proceed in a fair fashion. Crisis averted in a vintage SVS way!

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.