The Paulina Criterion

We’ve got a lot of rules at our school: formal and informal, rigorously-enforced and wishy-washy, widely-understood and otherwise. I want to introduce a test to determine whether a rule is good or dumb. It’s based on one of my students, whose name is not Paulina (for privacy reasons).

Paulina is a mature student. She understands the idea of collective action (ie: the impact of everyone saying “it’s just one piece of litter”) and does not consider herself to be exceptional. She’s an active student, with a broad array of interests: the sort of person who is getting the best out of her education. Paulina will support any rule that can be explained to her logically in such a way that the rule is clearly necessary for the smooth, safe, and effective running of the school.

The Paulina criterion is thus: if Paulina supports the rule, then it is a Good Rule. If she does not, then it is Dumb.

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