People Are Sharing The Dumbest Rules That Their Schools Ever Enforced, And Here Are 74 Of The Most Ridiculous Ones
We need rules. Apart from our bodies following some very strict and complex biological laws, without which we would not even be, even the very words we use follow universally agreed principles. Like this one, called English.
The political economist Elinor Ostrom (who shared the Noble Prize for economics in 2009) observed the phenomenon of spontaneous rule construction when people had to collectively manage resources such as land, fisheries, or water for irrigation.
She found that people construct rules together about, say, how many cattle a person can graze, where, and when; who gets how much water, and what should be done when the resource is limited. These agreements often arise from the needs of mutually consensual social and economic interactions.
But on the other end of the spectrum, we have the powerful, imposing their way of doing things from the top down. This is exceptionally evident in institutions. To show that it's not necessarily effective, let's take a look at a Reddit thread created by user ObviousEntertainer with the question, "What's the dumbest rule you had in school?"
#1We could not touch each other. All physical contact was banned.
There was one teacher that claimed if it wasn't for this rule, we would all be running around raping each other. Ah, yes, truly the time of my life.
Image credits: MyrMilfordMeanswell
#2Couldn't wear flip flops because they were considered a weapon but you could wear stiletto heels...
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#3In primary school, we weren’t allowed to use erasers. We were never told why.
Image credits: Whose_cat_is_that
#4No Simpsons anything. This was when it premiered, and there was this national scare that Bart was a bad influence. There were to popular Bart shirts that were banned, one that said "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you?" and another that said "Bart Simpson, underachiever and proud of it"
This eventually evolved into banning all Simpsons shirts, school supplies, stickers, etc. after some of the teachers started watching the show.
Image credits: dougiebgood
#5No water bottles because a few girls 4 years ago snuck vodka into the bathroom.
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#6In elementary school, we couldn't kick a ball at recess because the school was afraid we would kick the balls to the top of the building.
Image credits: xxSovietRaptorxx
#7My middle school banned hugs. At least, they banned front hugs--the rule was against "chest to chest" contact, regardless of context or gender. No chest bumps after a game. Several girls got in trouble for hugging their female friends goodbye after school. It was a strange place.
Edit: To clarify, this was a public school in a suburban area in a liberal part of the country (US). I don't remember whether there was a ban against hugs from behind--I'll try to ask some old classmates when I get home and update if any of them remember.
Image credits: proof_by_abduction
#8My kindergarten had no doors on the toilet cubicles, but huge mirrors on the opposite wall. We all had to go at the one time. *everyone could see what you were doing. I have lifelong anxiety from this*
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Edit: Wow. This blew up. It was only for the boys, by the way. For the girls, so long as you didn't color your hair other than its natural hair color, you were good. Check up was every Monday, when we were lined up (according to height) for the flag ceremony because the school president wanted to share "all the good news" with us, which ranged from positive events, to one of their staff and students winning awards, etc. The prefect was very strict about it, but the teachers weren't so we'd just skip mornings every few Mondays so we didn't have to get a haircut.
Image credits: Mist3rTryHard
#10We weren't allowed to be indoors for more than five minutes at recess. This was in Canada and indoor recess started when it was below -25C. Instances of school-wide diarrhea really shot up during the winter.
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#11No gloves, because only gang members wear gloves.
It's freezing cold and your gloves are bright pink? Take them off before someone thinks you're a member of the notorious pink gloves gang.
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#12We could play Magic TG but we had to remove any offensive cards. Yes they looked through our decks to make sure. Good ol' Oklahoma.
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#13We weren't allowed to wear shirts with pictures on them. That includes embroidered logos like you might see from Nike, Champion, or Polo shirts. Kids were wearing those shirts that had Bugs Bunny and Taz dressed up as Kris Kross and some parent or teacher thought they looked like gangsters. So the shirts were dubbed gang paraphernalia and the school wanted them banned but didn't know how to just ban those without some kid feeling targeted so they banned all shirts with pictures. We'd have free dress day about every two weeks (which devolved into whenever they felt like it) where you could wear a picture shirt, except for those dubbed "gang paraphernalia" (? why they didn't do that to begin with, over Kris Kross Bugs Bunny of all things I don't know). If you wore something with a logo on it you had to either cover it with masking tape or buy special labels from the school to cover it.
Yay for insane Christian private schools.
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#14When i was in middle school that god awful " Shrek is love Shrek is Life" video came out and the student council wanted to have a shrek spirit day because of it. So the school banned shrek and anyone who talked about it got a detention.
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#15In middle school, had a stupid as all hell "one way hallway system", where students could only walk in the halls one direction. Made me late twice actually since my class was the first one behind the exit door, but forced to go in the entrance door. Was enforced even when halls were empty. One stick in the mud teacher threatened to write me up if I questioned the rule.
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#16In middle school, if we said sorry we got in school suspension. The teachers claimed that apologizing is a form of lying and lying is bad.
Edit: We also weren’t allowed to have water bottles or to to a water fountain. The only time we got a chance to drink was during our lunch. We could also only to go the bathroom once a semester, or we would be have in school suspension.
Image credits: i-ate-birb
#17In grade school. We weren't allowed to fight back. That was the actual rule. A kid pinned me down with the help of his friends and started going at it. It was winter and he was wearing his big puffy gloves so it wasn't too bad, but I kicked him off of me and I got in an equal amount of trouble as him. A different kid a few years younger got suspended for a similar instance that same year.
When I pressed them as to what I was supposed to do, apparently I was supposed to "use my words". Yes because the most effective tool to stop someone beating the s**t out of you is to ask them nicely to stop. I loved that school, amazing teachers and support staff, but f**k the administration was terrible.
Image credits: PopeOfDestiny
#18On the first day of class, my seventh grade writing teacher demanded that we all buy comfortable pens. On the second day of class, she went desk to desk sampling our choices. Several students (myself included) experienced awkward embarrassment when she slammed down our pathetic pens and shouted “NOPE.”
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#19It wasn't the rule, but the wording.
Grade 9, they made an announcement that you couldn't show your bum crack in the school. The admin decided to word that as 'no back cleavage'.
Image credits: BastardOfTheNorth89
#20They boys were not allowed to have doors on our stalls (we had a brick wall about 4ft high between toilets with nothing in front). They said boys would ruin them.
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#21Went to a Catholic school where there was a big white line painted across the schoolyard and during recess boys played on one side and girls on the other. We were not allowed to intermingle during recess even though we weren't separated during class or lunch. I'm a guy and all my friends were girls so we used to stand at the line and talk, go in trouble many times for that.
Also in high school, post Columbine, we weren't allowed to carry backpacks around the school. We had to leave them in our lockers and carry our heavy a*s textbooks around.
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#22We couldn’t wear winter clothing in class (coats, gloves, hats). Even with the heat on, it got cold in the winter inside the school so we just had to freeze. They said it was because winter clothing were gang symbols. This was a farm town in Wisconsin.
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#23At any point you may not talk during lunch, and may not laugh at large stools in the bathroom.
I s**t you not. (Excuse the pun)
Edit: I am from the UK
Image credits: anon
#24In my elementary school my teacher made a rule after the first quarter where if your assignment was not fully in cursive you would automatically fail no matter how much you did and how well. The worst part is that we didn’t know how to write cursive and we were still learning it.
#25At an all girls high school: No ankle socks because ankles can attract boys and make them have sex with you.
Ankles lead to legs. And legs lead to.... up there.... and we ALL know what's in that area.
(which also, according to the school was rape on the girl's part because you were making the boy want to have sex with you and boys, as you know, cannot resist so....)
#26The boys weren’t allowed to wear shorts at my middle school, but the girls could wear ‘culottes’ (basically shorts with a fancy name). One day about a hundred boys came to school wearing culottes. The Man had it stuck to him hard that day
#27Clear or mesh backpacks only. This was from 1st grade through high school in the late 90s to early 2000s.
We also had to wear a safety vest as our bathroom pass in high school. It was such a joke that the first year the rule was introduced, our year books were a giant safety vest on the outside. Honestly the thought of a shared unisex safety vest for bathroom visits still grosses me out as I know those things were never washed properly.
Edit: This was before Columbine happened.
Image credits: TheHolyZarquon
#28In elementary school, when we’d line up at the water fountain after recess, a teacher would be standing next to us and counting “1... 2... 3... times up!”They had a b******t three second rule at the water fountain!
#29In primary school, pens were banned and everything had to be done in pencil. Vice versa in secondary school.
We also had a rule where you weren't allowed to change seats in the dining hall once you'd sat down for the first time. Very hard to enforce, but we all stuck to it.
#30My middle school had a rule; if you were sent to the office for misbehavior, you remained in the office for the rest of the day.
Knowing this, my first period teacher found every escuse to send me to the office. I missed all of my lessons and nearly failed 7th grade.
#31I was in the First Grade. We only had one recess and it was in the late afternoon. We had to walk in a straight line to the playground, stand in the playground yard in a straight line quietly while the two teachers who pulled playground duty lead us through some basic exercises.
Here is the problem: We are FIRST GRADERS. It's late afternoon. And you HONESTLY expect us to stand there on a playground after an entire day of sitting in class at our desk doing work and listening to instructions and only having one break (lunch) and do basic exercises while standing on a f*****g playground? I am a sadist and this school taught me how to do it well.
And when we wouldn't properly do what we were told, the basic exercises continued, meaning less time playing and burning energy and having just a little bit of fun during the day.
Some time in January something happened and we royally pissed off those two teachers. So when they pulled recess duty there was no exercising and playing. No. We had to stand in line for the entire recess period. So about twice a week for the remainder of the school year.
This school taught me sadism, taught me well...
Image credits: GreatJanitor
#32You are not allowed to have fake pockets, for no reason, out of the blue just a new rule. In home room the teacher would check to see if you have any fake pockets. The rule is no longer enforced, but a teacher still have the power to enforce it
Then the same school banned Spanish one day, it was a detention if someone said a Spanish word
At my school teaches can give you demerits for what they deem bad, which lead to one teach giving out 2 demerits ( 4 demerits is a detention) for any made up words. The reasoning was that we would sometimes substitute made up words for our swears, so someone would say what the fluka, or just say a random sounds out of boredom
#33Tiny school that required students to wear name badges to help prevent a shooting. The teachers and principals would call you out by name for not wearing one.
#34Non American here, We need to pay fine when we don't speak English in school. In every class, class leader used to note down student names who ever speak their native language other than English. This rule went on for 2 years and then they finally removed it.
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#35In middle school we weren’t allowed to chew gum. I was caught and had to write a 2,000 word report on the history of pizza. I wrote that damn report and my teacher forgot and never asked for it...
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#36At my elementary school they would turn the lights off in the cafeteria after most kids got their food. Lights off meant "No talking". It also meant that 300 kids had to eat in the dark. If you spoke, the teachers pounced on you and you got instant detention. It wss ridiculous. This was every day, not just for an announcement or something.
#37In high school we had what they called "lock-out". If you were 1 second late for class the teachers would lock the doors and you were supposed to go to the cafeteria to get a detention for being late. Instead of getting a detention I would just leave school and skip the whole day and not get in any trouble. All because I was a few seconds late for class. Pretty dumb.
#38Well 3 of them.
No mechanical pencils or any pens that click. Teachers found that s**t annoying.
No peeing outside the toilet or urinal. Common decency but if your caught, you would get a call to your parents. The rule isn't stupid, its actually really good, but the people who its targetted at are.
Zero tolerance policy. It's in nearly every school. I haven't had any encounters but it does strike people hard. Imagine getting beat up.... and getting punished for being beat up because you happened to be involved even though you did nothing. It's a d**k of a rule.
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#39If you were absent too many days out of the year you got a 2 day suspension. Nothing like kicking kids out of school for not being in school.
#40"No hats" was basically the only dress code my school had. The dumbest thing was moreso the reasoning behind it. It was put into effect after Columbine because apparently different groups (jocks, nerds, goths, etc.) wore different headgear to differentiate themselves.
Image credits: Bourbontoulouse
#41No one could wear Joe's Crab Shack shirts. At first it was just the tie-dye ones that said, "Peace, Love & Crabs."
Because of the implication of sex and pubic lice I suppose? It was a stretch. But then they expanded to any Joe's Crab Shack shirts.
My friend had to wear a PE shirt all day because her shirt was a Joe's Crab Shack shirt. It didn't have "offensive" slogan on it. It just had a picture of a crab and the restaurant's name. She still had to change shirts. She was so embarrassed because no one wants to wear your PE shirt all day.
Image credits: DefectiveCat57
#42I wore the skull misfits shirt and they called me to the deans office and told me to turn it inside out. They said it was because it represented death.
I said “so it represents something that inevitably happens to every person, so I’m not allowed to wear it?” Then walked out. Never caught any flak for it, was pretty proud of my punk 16 year old rebellious self.
#43We weren't allowed to show our shoulders at all. Officially, the dress code stated that shirt straps couldn't be under 3 inches in width. However, people got written up daily for wearing even a t-shirt with sleeves that were too short. This also applied to the choir/band trip we took to California, where the girls weren't allowed to wear tank tops or shorts (even the ones within the dress code) because it made our male principle "uncomfortable." Spent that entire trip sweating my a*s off while the guys got to wear shorts and I'm still bitter about it over 10 years later.
#44In high school you were not allowed to use the football field unless you were on the football team. That meant that if gym class wants to be held outside the only thing we were allowed to do is run around the outside of the field. The reason they gave was they spent one and a half million dollars to renovate the field and that was reserved for only the football team. Got to love Catholic School.
#45Girls could have piercings but guys couldn't. Did it anyway, it was a very mediocre school.
#46I'd broken my middle finger nail below the white bit, but it wasn't super bad so I'd used clear nail polish to hold it together and make it stronger until it had grew out enough to clip away.
My high school had a strict no nail polish policy, but I thought that it was just the one nail for a legit reason, maybe they'd be cool.
No one said anything to me it had almost grown out and it was three weeks before the final exams when we were doing revision I was in biology.
My teacher looked at my nail, saw clear polish and told me to take it off. I explained the situation, mentioned that it was clear and said I'd take it off as soon as the break grew out and this lady just wasn't having it.
Apparently taking off one f*****g nail's worth of clear polish was more important than revising for my f*****g exams. I got sent out of the class because I refused, and I was super pissed.
#47when i was in grade 8, we had to write our homework in our agendas and if a parent didn't sign it that would result in a detention.
#48At my high school, students were not allow to use the restrooms during lunch.
#49In high school, they tried to implement a rule that guys weren't allowed to wear pink that was definitely targeted at a guy who was "one of the freaky people" who would wear a pink hello kitty shirt to school. It didn't work, though, because a large portion of the guys came in the next day wearing pink (including a lot of the football players, which shocked me a little) and the decision was overturned before the day was over.
#51In primary school, we weren't allowed to put our rubbish from our lunches in the bin. I distinctly remember being in an assembly, where there headteacher said "your lunchbox is your bin".
I mean, did she think the bins we're for decoration? So stupid
#52Junior high was riddled with stupid rules. Most of them had to do with our general appearance. One time I got sent home because my pants *weren't the correct shade of blue* to match the ugly a*s uniform. The principal had to *drive me home so I could change pants!* Wasted valuable hours of my school day and education just because of a color.
EDIT: a word.
#53In grade school we were told not to use spoons. Only babies used spoons.
Yet they gave us spoons.
#54In 3rd grade we had to have "play mates"
It basically meant that we couldn't play with our friends on the breaks/recess, we had to play in a group, that group was filled with students from other classes too, not fun.
#55Buses were not allowed to depart at the end of the school day until the flag on the flagpole outside the main entrance had been taken down and properly put away.
If someone forgot, all the buses would sit there idling for as long as it would take until the flag was dealt with.
#56When I was a freshman in high school (late '80s) there was a designated smoking area on campus. It was a square, maybe 10' x 10' painted on the ground in the courtyard. Students could only smoke in that box on campus. The next year they decided that you could only smoke in that box if you had a note from your parents. The year after that, no students were allowed to smoke on campus. My senior year, staff wasn't allowed to smoke on campus. This resulted in the box metaphorically moving to someone's driveway across the street, where students and teachers were all smoking together.
#57At my grade school we weren’t allowed to wear ankle socks. You would get detention if you did.
#58cant wear red to school. so stupid
#59No colored shoelaces—apparently it was a sign of gang affiliation
No toe shoes—it looked too much like you were wearing only socks
No eating outside the cafeteria—this was to reduce litter in the hallways but our school cafeteria could only fit 100-ish people so everyone ignored it. They tried enforcing it by “guarding” the cafeteria doors so those buying lunch couldn’t leave but then people just stopped buying school lunch
Edit: for clarification
#60No one was allowed to have or say the word "Dr. Pepper" because it was the password to a shared Brazzers account the administration found out about.
#61In second grade, only one boy and one girl were allowed to go to the bathroom at a time.
I had to pee so bad that I was shaking and this kid took a stupid amount of time to get back. He finally came back and I had to wait in a line to his desk and he finally said I could go. Pissed myself on the way there.
F**k you, Mr Bennish.
#62Hair couldn’t be extreme, colored or past earlobes for guys as it would be considered a distraction to others. I had long hair past my shoulders and would not cut it. Was in ISS a lot. It’s a silly thing to get detention for. Kids don’t go to school to be told how to dress and how they *should* look. I remember how much of an impact the breakfast club movie had on me in my junior high days.
#63Needing to wait 10 minutes before and after classes have started to use the restroom.
My adolescent body with developing Crohn’s Disease did NOT take kindly to this rule, and got
Into fights with the bathroom monitor often (someone who would make sure nobody was in
the bathroom for too long doing drugs, having sex, other things of the sort).
Thankfully the Principal had a heart of gold and gave me a special pass to use his personal private bathroom which was so nice and clean. In a high school of 5000 teenagers, being able to poop in peace at the rate you go with Crohn’s Disease made my life somewhat less sh*tty (pun intended).
#64My fifth grade teacher hated the smell of mint or fruity things. Had a strong sense of smell when it came to it, one day I was eating some jolly ranchers my buddy gave me & when while in the middle of taking a test she started sniffing & walking around the class. When she got to me, she knew... put her hand down just under my chin & actually made me spit them into her hand.. wut. Leading to her implementing a rule for no types of candy in class or that fruity smelling kids perfume for the girls.
TL:DR teacher hated fruity/minty smells, made me spit jolly ranchers into her hand & banned candy from her classroom.
#65You have to ask permission to have a drink. This rule got ignored when I was in year ten, but I still remember one teacher just screaming at me for taking a sip of water on a hot day.
#66Girls couldn't wear tank tops because showing armpits wasn't allowed but guys could wear wife beaters. Made no sense. No chains on wallets back in the day when chain wallets were the thing so dudes replaced their chains with pearl necklaces as an FU to admin. No black lipstick allowed. Oh, and they were really concerned about Starter jackets and gang activity. This was a small farm town of like 700, total overreaction. Also most high schools allow you to attend a shorter day if you've met your graduation credits but we had to sit all day and sometimes that meant having 2-3 study halls if we had already met requirements. Such a waste of time.
#67In middle School, the dress code dictated you had to tuck your s**t in. Which might not be a big thing but they took it so seriously. I think they're reasoning was it was more professional? I guess? It was never really explained and they were handing out detentions for this s**t left and right
#68Our school 'banned' black socks. It was a public high school in a predominately poor neighbourhood so the parents didn't give a s**t and bought whatever socks were cheapest or didn't have the money to buy all brand new socks again.
It got to a point where we'd have whole school assemblies on it and the teachers threatening to suspend kids from school, for wearing black socks.
#69In middle school we weren't allowed to talk at lunch or else we would get put up on the wall and get handed a detention. Like a clean version of hell.
#70No ballpoint pens.
#71I remember that once a teacher yelled at me for walking fast om the hallway
Like, those kids over there block all the path playing with kendamas , in the bathroom 3 guys fight and in that classroom they play sh*tty music loudly but somehow I'm the problem
#72I went to a primarily White High School. There was almost no gang problems or race problems. We had probably 20 black kids out of 1,500. One rather popular black student/athlete (who later played in thr NFL for 10 years) was the only kid in school to ware a do rag. For no reason they started a no Do-Rag or Bandana policy. This student clearly felt singled out and decieded to test the Administrations limits and wore he Do Rag anyway. He was confronted by the princeable and suspended the day before the 1st district football game of his senior year. There is a parking lot not on school grounds overlooking our football field that you can see from the stands. He watched the game with his do rag from that parking lot. Everytime we scored we made sure we pointed to him to draw attention to the fact he was watching the game from a distance. The whole student body wore white T-Shirts wrapped around their heads with "FREE @%&$" written on it with Sharpie.
#73In my high school you can't play cards unless it's uno since playing cards are used for gambling. My best friend got detention for clapping,even though a lot of other people were clapping, because he "disturbed the lunch period" and supposedly started it all even though he didn't. You can't sing happy birthday in the cafeteria. You can't do a promposal on school grounds.
#74* boots were banned because they "promoted thuggish, anti-social behaviour". I wore steel toe-capped boots for the entire time I was there because I found them more comfortable than shoes and no one noticed...well, except the bully who got dropped kicked in the crotch because I'd had enough of his s**t. He noticed.
* boys had to have short hair as long hair was a distraction. I decided to f*k da police and grow mine out. That caused a few arguments.
* we were allowed to wear our own coats over the top of our uniforms when going to/from school. Just so long as they were black and conformed to certain styles. No one paid any attention as it was completely unenforceable.
* in sixth form, girls were allowed to wear whatever they wanted to. Boys still had to wear a shirt and tie selected from a very small range of colours. When we complained about the double standards, the school graciously allowed us to select two additional colours.
The school's excuses for all of this was to prevent bullying and prepare us for the workplace. Kids just found other reasons to bully each other and I've never had a job that required a three-piece suit.