Rule of 150

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Rule of 150

Malcolm Gladwell states in his critically acclaimed novel The Tipping Point, that in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements (Gladwell, 2002, 192). This is one detail that explains his Rule of 150. The number 150 represents the maximum number of people that we are able to maintain a social relationship with. Meaning, that it is the type of relationship where both people know of each other, as well as knowing how they are related to each other. Throughout history, it is evident that this theory proves true, and that when a group, organization, or society begins to reach the number of 150, is it beneficial and necessary for the group to divide. The Rule of 150 is an important rule in society because it keeps groups closer and more knit together, as well as serves as a type of incubator that allows important messages to resonate and have a bigger impact (Gladwell, 2002, 181). Two examples in today’s society where this rule is evident is the V-Day campaign, as well as in the everyday classroom. Both groups show the importance of the Rule of 150 through various reasons. Although the V-Day campaign is a very different example than the typical students classroom, Gladwell’s theory shows how a global movement can relate to a daily educational experience and furthermore proves his idea correct.

Eve Ensler is a woman who has helped transform millions of lives all over the world. Enslers play The Vagina Monologues was written in 1996 which is based on interviews with over 200 women. These interviews included different memories regarding sexual experiences both good and bad (V-Day). The first production of the play was performed in a small venue in Greenwich Village, New York and has now grown into a monumental movement which has won more than 20 awards, has been translated in over 45 languages, and has been performed in over 120 countries. This play written by one Woman grew from something small into a huge success, all by word of mouth. Not only is Ensler a great American playwright but she also performed in her own show. After writing and acting in The Vagina Monologues she was inspired to create a global movement called V-Day.

V-Day was established in 1998 and is a non-profit organization to help raise money and awareness to end violence against woman and girls. This huge movement was inspired by The Vagina Monologues. In the past 10 years the V-Day movement has been able to raise over $60 million dollars (V-Day). It has reached places such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia and has given hope to millions of women that the end of violence is in the future. This successful organization started from one woman’s ideas and has now become one of the world’s best charities. The Rule of 150 applies to this organization mainly in part because V-Day is an enormous movement. V-Day has become successful because of the many different groups and societies involved. After Ensler’s first production of The Vagina Monologues, women were desperate to become more involved. The stories written on the pages of Ensler’s play had a message that transformed women’s lives. The V-Day campaign having just started 10 years ago has grown into a women’s rights epidemic.

V-Day has two types of campaigns which allows the V-Day message to speak out to more people. The two campaigns, The College Campaign, and the Community Campaign performs The Vagina Monologues around the world (V-Day). Each group targets different people from country to country, and as a result V-Day’s message has been voiced out loud. There is no way possible for a movement of this size to have become this powerful without having thousands of different branches. The Tipping Point talks about the importance of having small groups. The book indicates that smaller groups are more knit together, and that this is an important part in having organizations become effective and successful (Gladwell, 2002, 181). The V-Day campaign adheres to this rule and shows how the different groups over the world has aided in making V-Day as powerful as it is today.

Going deeper into detail, the schools and communities that perform The Vagina Monologues develop a type of bond. Much like Gladwell’s example of Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Vagina Monologues creates a specific type of relationship between women. Ensler’s play started off very small, and as it began to grow, women all over the world started connecting with each other. These connections are the cornerstone to V-Days success. These groups of women who were involved with Ensler’s play became enraptured with the playwright’s message for the need to stop woman violence. Each group that produced the plays would learn about other women’s stories, as well as share their own stories. This type of activity creates a strong emotional bond between the ladies. Most productions of The Vagina Monologues are no more than 50 people. Having such small groups allows the group to maintain a special relationship. If these productions involved over 150 people, everyone would lack the strong ties established, ultimately impacting V-Day’s achievements as a whole. Gladwell states, “The figure of 150 seems to represent the maximum number of individuals with whom we can have a genuinely social relationship, the kind of relationship that goes with knowing who they are and how they relate to us.” (Gladwell, 2002, 179).

Another example that perfectly shows the importance of The Rule of 150 is school size and classroom size concerning education. It may seem apparent that the more time a student has with the teacher the better that child may do. However there are multiple reasons as to why a smaller learning environment can help in the education process. The director of government relations with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Don Ernst, says that “Smaller class size enhances learning for a basic common sense reason—it helps teacher in getting to know the kids. You get to know 19 kids better than you get to know 30 kids (Education World).” Downsizing not only makes the classroom closer but it is also proven to increase student achievement, give students more personal attention, as well as give the educators more time to center on learning rather than discipline and management (Education World).

A study that further proves The Rule of 150 was done by the Tennessee’s Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ration). Project STAR was a test that lasted over 4 years and included 79 schools, more than 300 classrooms, and 7,000 students. These students were followed over a 4 year span and each child was able to experience different size classrooms. There were three different types of classrooms; one classroom had 13-17 students, another classroom had 22-26 students, and the last classroom had 22-26 students with an addition instruction aide to the teacher. When the study was completed, it was shown that students in the smaller classrooms excelled more than the students in the larger classrooms.  This was also proven to be true for all different settings of education. White and minority students did better in smaller classes as well as students from inner-city, suburban, and rural schools (Education World).

So how can the Rule of 150 explain these students ability to do better in schools?  There are several reasons. First off, having smaller classrooms gives the students the ability to know their peers and teacher better. Instead of the teacher trying to teach 30 kids, she now has a better ability to impact 15. This gives the teacher twice as much time to her students. With smaller groups the classrooms are able to become closer, and as a result it makes the success rate for students go up. This is very similar to the V-Day example in that the teachers and students form a bond. That bond that lasts through the school year is a much stronger bond, rather than a teacher who has a larger classroom.  “The Rule of 150 suggests that the size of a group is another one of those subtle contextual factors that can make a big difference- with just the smallest change in size of the community – societies and groups become divided and alienated. Once that line is crossed, they begin to behave very differently (Gladwell, 2002, 182).”  This is a perfect explanation of why larger classroom environments have more problems. When a classroom has more students, the children are not getting all the necessary attention they need. As more and more students enter the learning environment, certain groups are formed and some students are left alienated. Once the classroom hits the “tipping point” the learning process will be much different. Having smaller class sizes subsequently reduces this problem and allows students to have a closer connection to his or her surroundings.

The Rule of 150 can be attributed to the success of many organizations and movements all over the world. The saying “Divide and conquer” coming from the Latin saying Divide et impera, perfectly sums up Gladwell’s theory. Taking an idea or concept and “dividing” it among multiple groups, enables that group to branch out and spread its message. In other words, when you have a group like the V-Day campaign, a huge part of its achievements is due to their many other supportive voices. Classroom size also shows how the Rule of 150 applies. The smaller the educational experience the more effective the message will be.  By creating one contagious movement, it is essential to create many small movements first (Gladwell, 2002, 192). A group over the size of 150 loses the intimate bond and effectiveness smaller groups have, therefore making the Rule of 150 important in today’s societies and organizations.


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