Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Week 23, Marlborough School

February 28th, 2012

Town Meeting!

Where shall I begin?  Once again I never cease to be amazed by this group of kids!  Their capacity for civics is phenomenal.  I have been meaning to have town meeting for many weeks, today I bit the bullet and did it, with out any warning to the homesteaders that it would be coming.  We began class by establishing an agenda.  This was quick.  Three items were up for discussion:  Meeting penalties, form of government, and jobs (creating a business).  The first 15 to 20 minutes of class were spent on penalties.  Ideas for behavior and discipline were offered:

  • time out chair
  • three strikes with fines, then go in the hall
  • drown peep in the river
  • burn offending peep
The three strikes won with 12 votes.

  • 1st strike- warning
  • 2nd strike- fine of an undetermined amount (homesteaders decided that this should be left to the moderator's discretion based on the severity of the offense [whisper, talking, interrupting])
  • 3rd strike- homesteader is removed to the hallway, fined (an undetermined amount), and exiled from the next meeting.

Government was up next.  Ideas were offered:

  • not a free state- direct democracy
  • wait until peeps are settled in town to choose government
  • rule with tyranny- force, not choice; no vote; inconsistent government; taxes; anyone could take over; homesteaders might quit
  • senate with impeachment (like star wars)
  • democracy with a few leaders, oligarchy, board of selectmen
  • monarchy
 Much discussion ensued.  Homesteaders agreed that last year, when we had a board of selectpeeps, it was unfair because only sixth graders were voted as selectpeeps.  It was suggested that we have one peep from each grade and that the grades would vote separately.  One student was very concerned about a vote, suggesting that it wouldn't be fair because if you are unpopular ("...as I am"), you will not be elected.  "How about we draw from a hat?  That would be more fair."  The homesteaders seem to be on the same page that an election should not be a popularity contest, the best peeps for the job should be elected.

When called to a vote, a senate government won with nine votes.  I am not really sure what this means.  There was a bit of talk about Star Wars... so I guess "like that"?  Tyranny and monarchy each received zero votes.

At this point the meeting began to deteriorate.... it was moved to end the meeting.  This motion failed.  Disciplinary actions were taken (by the moderator) against a handful of disruptive homesteaders.  We began the discussion about jobs.  "We need more!"  "How are we supposed to make money?"  One homesteaders suggested that you could be an architect or a builder, since some homesteaders are daunted by these tasks.  Another suggested that we should have a police force.  Another suggested that we have a jail.  Rolph interrupted to remind everyone that Tiny Town does not have laws to enforce.  "Well, we'll hire police and build a jail and then we'll make laws!"  We got a bit off topic.  "We should have fines and loss of trading post privileges, not a jail."  It was moved to end the meeting again... once again the motion failed.  One homesteader reached the third strike threshold.  He then went beyond so we revisited this topic.  What happens after three strikes?  "A really BIG (though still undetermined) fine!"

Around this time the bell rang.

The greatest lesson I think that can be taken from today is the homesteaders need for respect.  The first item they came up with for the agenda was to have consequences for poor behavior during town meeting.  It is a high priority to these kids that they have a voice.  Today's meeting was entirely homesteader driven.  Rolph only spoke up twice, once about the lack of laws and once when a homesteaders began to rant and rave about select peeps and how they are not elected and they would change all of the time.  I merely revealed what a select board actually is.  To which the homesteader replied, "Oh, that's how it works around here.?", as though it is very different where he is from (this makes me smile!).  These kids did a fabulous job.

Next week: back to building!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Week 22, Marlborough School

February 14, 2012

lumber orders, banking, cardboard models, house painting

  Today Village looked much like the past several weeks.  The main difference I have noticed is that as a group, we have finally established ourselves.  I think I wrote last week about loosing some students to Drama club; this was unfortunate but I seem to be seeing the same faces every week now and it is nice that we have settled into our group.  I began the morning moving all of our materials from the supply closet and on down the hall into the art room.  My own children have been great helpers with this, they come to school early with me and hold doors open, unload the lumber orders from the car, wash the art tables, and move all of materials.  

  All of the homesteaders were very busy today making BIG progress.  These kids are really getting it.  I didn't feel pulled in twenty directions (this is a big deal).  Three issues arose today: 1. Peeps are overdrawing their accounts.  2. Peeps are counterfeiting checks. 3. Is it a conflict of interest for the trading post manager to assess his own tariffs?  FINALLY!  Problems!  I think we might just be ready to work on our community!

  We have next week off from school, so no Village.  I think it really must be time for town meeting.  I do declare, it will happen on February 28th!

note to self: remember to bring in hammers!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Week 21

February 7, 2012

lumber orders, cardboard models, house painting!

Things are progressing nicely in Village.  At this point the majority of homesteaders have drawn out their house pieces on wood.  Three students painted their house pieces today.  There is still a group of five or six that tends to be behind, although they are making progress.  We have lost several homesteaders to drama club.  I will have a firm number next week and will be able to weed out some of the extra materials.  As homesteaders achieve their goals they have time to think about the bigger picture and where they might fit in the community.  One homesteader today said that he doesn't want to paint his house or spend much money on it because he is planning on building a Colosseum.  This announcement led me to ask a few questions about the building's use.  He does intend for this to be open to the public.... and so our first public works project is born!  Said homesteader is now working on a proposal to have the Colosseum publicly funded.

The plan for next week will be very similar to the plans of the last several.  Some homesteaders are ready to actually assemble their homes.  I will need to remember to bring in some hammers next week.  The next step after building will be furnishings.  My plan is still to move outside as soon as possible.  As the homesteaders are moving along at such a varied pace it would be beneficial to be outdoors because we could have one group of students working on their land and another group working on their houses.

We are finally coming to the point of needing a town meeting and having the focus to get it done.   I am really hoping it will happen prior to February vacation.