All Together Now

In the classic dystopian novels, 1984 and Brave New World, societies encourage conformity by discouraging strong personal relationships. For example, in Brave New World:

The maxim “everyone belongs to everyone else” is repeated often, and the idea of a “family” is considered pornographic; sexual competition and emotional, romantic relationships are rendered obsolete because they are no longer needed.

Since schools are a big way we now train “self-control” to conform to social pressure, you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that schools now discourage close friendships:

Increasingly, some educators and other professionals who work with children are asking a question that might surprise their parents: Should a child really have a best friend? … The classic best-friend bond — the two special pals who share secrets and exploits, who gravitate to each other on the playground and who head out the door together every day after school — signals potential trouble for school officials intent on discouraging anything that hints of exclusivity, in part because of concerns about cliques and bullying.

“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling … “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.” … If two children seem to be too focused on each other, the camp will make sure to put them on different sports teams, seat them at different ends of the dining table or, perhaps, have a counselor invite one of them to participate in an activity with another child whom they haven’t yet gotten to know. …

Such an attitude worries some psychologists who fear that children will be denied the strong emotional support and security that comes with intimate friendships. …

School officials admit they watch close friendships carefully for adverse effects. “When two children discover a special bond between them, we honor that bond, provided that neither child overtly or covertly excludes or rejects others.”

HT Robert Koslover.

Added 21June: Bryan weighs in.

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