One of the hallmarks of a microschool community is that the rules of engagement are crafted by consensus. The students decide and vote on how they will interact, how they will be held accountable, and how consequences will be enforced. Many are surprised to find that this rarely, if ever, results in chaos or abuse of the system.

To get a bit philosophical, there is a well-documented difference in behavior – across multiple societies – between citizens and subjects. When they help craft the credo, and commit to honoring it, students become infinitely more invested in their community. They act out of honor rather than compulsion. And they hold each other accountable, rather than deferring to or chafing against an authoritarian figure.

Acton Academy, a high-functioning microschool that shares our vision, states that “nothing develops a powerful learning community faster than explicit agreements between individuals and the group, that allow participants to experiment within reasonable constraints, set and enforced by the community.” When these constraints are stretched, as they inevitably are, guides give students the choice to recommit to their standards or to revise them. This is one way in which the nobler part of human nature overwhelmingly shines, to many people’s amazement.