Friday, August 15, 2008

Class, Grade-School Style

As I watch even more of the Olympics I swore I wouldn't watch, I can't help but remember my elementary school principal and old friend, Phil Hunsberger.

Phil was (and is) a force of nature, perpetually smiling behind his thick beard, guitar always at the ready, prowling the lunchroom in search of unattended Cheetos, and known for spontaneous attacks of "happy feet." Imagine a 60s idealist turned public educator and administrator who never lost one iota of that idealism. That's Phil.

At any sort of performance -- music, sports, guest speakers, plays -- Franklin School students were expected to follow one simple rule:

"You may choose not to clap, but you do not boo."

As a 10-year-old, I just knew that a violation of this rule was one of the few things that would make Phil upset. With a few decades of hindsight, it shows itself to be such a perfect expression of the Phil Way. Franklin School was no dictatorship. If you didn't like what you saw, you didn't have to clap for it. That was your choice. But an outward expression of displeasure, of hostility toward the performer, that was unacceptable. You could choose to elevate the other person or not, but to lessen that person was taboo.

Call me the idealist if you will, but that's a pretty good rule to live by.

1 comment:

scott said...

sounds like a great rule to me. may pass that on to our kid, who just started kindergarten this week.