Noticing aloud that the second graders have not yet made their way into the forest, I ask whether we should wait to vote until they are with us. The kindergarten and first grade are unanimous in their response---yes. As soon as the second grade arrives, we will convene around the Dead Log and vote.
O., T., L. and other first grade boys become anxious to explore beyond the boundaries of our forest space. They ask a teacher to accompany them in their exploration and decide to follow a path that leads away from the Dead Log.
Soon after they leave, the second grade arrives and children who are still present declare that it is finally time to vote.
As mediator of the dialogue and facilitator of the vote, I now have a choice to make. Should I wait for the first grade explorers to come back, since among them are some of the deconstruction's biggest (and most outspoken) proponents? Or should I go ahead with the vote, since yesterday's plan dictates that it take place at the beginning of our forest time?
I confer with Mary D. and we make a hard decision. Since the boys who have left know that they were leaving a group which was gearing up to make a decision, delaying would be unfair to those in the community who are present and waiting.
I call everyone down to the log and open up a discussion for the whole community. The discussion seems imbalanced since only J. and D. are left to defend the deconstruction. Perhaps with O., L., T. and others also in the mix, more community members would have been swayed by this last minute discussion.
We vote, by a raise of hands.
For Deconstruction: 5 Against Deconstruction: 28.
The Dead Log will stay intact, and deconstruction of it is no longer allowed.
Almost as soon as we finish counting votes, T. runs into the clearing from the path, with other boys behind him.
T: When's the vote?
With the whole community silent and watching, it feels like an eternity until I can find the words to tell him that we've already voted, and that he won't be happy with the outcome.
O., who is good with numbers, asks for the final tally and begins to add votes to the Deconstruction side-- One for me, one for T., one for E....--and teachers explain that the vote is now closed. Just like if his mom and dad were to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney on the day after the Presidential Election, their votes would not be counted.
They suggest another vote, but the rest of the community is satisfied with the outcome and ready to head back to their play.
Other children disperse, leaving the group of boys to kick at the dirt and look around for other projects.
We let them feel the weight of their decision.
It's a hard lesson to learn that as members of the community and participants in the democratic process, we not only must have opinions, but we must also show up to advocate for those opinions in order to make a difference.
-Posted by Mauren Campbell