Shoes in the Lobby

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How a simple thoughtful act in a junior high school led Space2think to three principles which they believe can transform a working community 

The American writer, Margaret Wheatley, tells a heartening story about a junior high school which had to be evacuated during a rainstorm. When it was safe to return to the building, the principal was the last inside and was greeted by eight hundred pairs of shoes in the lobby. In the face of a crisis, the children had independently decided what they needed to do to help take care of their shared environment. In how many other high schools would the students respond in such a thoughtful and intentional manner? It is perhaps easier to understand the young people’s response when you get to know the rules the whole school community have adopted – and, rather surprisingly for an educational establishment, there are only three. However, all decisions and behaviours are based on these three rules. They are:

• take care of yourself

• take care of each other

• take care of this place

Margaret Wheately says that “the fact that this worked so well in a junior high environment should make us all sit up and take notice!” And there is something about this moving story which compels us to think about the principles we live by within our own working communities. At Space2think we decided to follow the example the school set and adopt the same principles ourselves – adjusting the last one slightly to ‘take care of business’.

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