“If you like breaking rules, do not miss the first meeting of our new club.” Mr. Davis pointed to the reminder on the chalkboard. “Today, during lunch, this classroom.” He saw Brandy’s hand. “Yes, Brandy?”
“What will we do about lunch? When will we eat?”
“If you’re coming to the meeting, you may bring your lunch in here to eat.”
“But, eating in the classroom is against the rules.” Brandy argued.
“I know,” Mr. Davis said. “The name of the club is The Rule Breakers.”
Nobody wanted to miss the first meeting of a club devoted to breaking rules. What was Mr. Davis planning? Would they write in their books? Bring squirt guns to school? Watch TV? Get passes to turn in their homework late? Once you began breaking rules, the possibilities were endless.
Students trickled into the room in groups, carrying lunch boxes or trays from the cafeteria. Mr. Davis had heated up leftovers from his house.
“You can’t eat pancakes for lunch,” Brandy protested.
Mr. Davis just poured syrup and pointed to the chalkboard; RULE BREAKERS was printed in large letters.
After a few bites of his lunch, Mr. Davis began, “Ok. This club is devoted to and is about Rule Breakers. So, let’s brainstorm. Who’s a rule breaker?”
“Someone who breaks rules.” Kevin took a sip of his juice and smirked.
“Thank you for stating the obvious, Kevin. But I’m looking for a more specific answer.”
“Well,” Debra began. “Criminals break laws, and laws are like rules.”
“Good.” Mr. Davis swigged some milk. “Who else?”
“Technically, everyone has broken a rule at some point.” Leslie added.
“Good. Good. We know that Rule Breakers break rules, are sometimes criminals, and always all of us.” Another bite of pancakes. “Now for the excessively specific. Name a famous Rule Breaker.”
“Like Jack the Ripper?” Kevin sipped more juice.
“Or Billy the Kid?” Debra suggested.
“Ok.” Mr. Davis wrote the names on the board. “Jack and Billy did break rules. No question there. Now, let’s add another guideline. Name famous Rule Breakers who are good role models.”
The room was filled with awkward silence and the sounds of lunch.
“I don’t get it.” Brandy spoke up. “People who break rules are not role models. If you break a rule, you are doing something wrong.”
Before Mr. Davis could respond, Katie raised her hand. “What about Rosa Parks? She broke the rule about sitting at the front of the bus, and people celebrate her.”
“An excellent example, Katie.” Rosa’s name was added to the board. “Who else?”
“Galileo got in big trouble over the center of the universe.” Kevin’s juice box made an empty noise.
“There were lots of people who hid Jews from the Nazis in World War II.” Debra suggested as she threw her trash away.
“Martin Luther King, Jr.”
“The people who translated the Bible from Latin.”
The board was full of names of Rule Breakers. “Listen, guys,” Mr. Davis began. “Most situations are not just black and white or right and wrong. Yes, the people who hid Jews were breaking laws, were breaking rules. But they chose to examine the law, to decide that the law was wrong. A lot of people in history, and even today, get got up in the Rule. They are so busy in following all the rules that they never examine the rules to see if they are worthy of being followed.” He paused. “So for the next meeting, bring in a book about one of these Rule Breakers. And be ready to tell us why we should look up to your Rule Breaker.”
Kevin slurped his empty juice box. “So can we start breaking rules that we don’t think are worthy? Can we stop doing our math homework?”
Mr. Davis smiled. “Sure, if you want. But remember, that being a Rule Breaker also means accepting the consequences. A lot of these people died because they broke the rules.”
“So are you going to kill us if we don’t turn in our homework?”
“Just you, Kevin.” Mr. Davis finished his pancakes. The class laughed.