There is a new trend sweeping across primary schools. Teachers are stopping children from having best friends, to prevent others feeling left out and alienated. Instead, children are encouraged to play in larger groups in the hope that each child will have ‘many acquaintances’. Parents and guardians stress that this is an ‘unnatural’ and ‘unnecessary’ policy, so why are teachers pushing it?
Supporters of this approach argue that children whom are excluded from their primary school cliques feel secluded and ostracised. Kipling D. Williams, a professor of psychological sciences, claims that ostracism is an ‘invisible form of bullying’ and can lead to feelings of unworthiness, alienation and in severe cases, depression. Educational workers feel that encouraging children to play in larger groups, will leave less children feeling left out, leading to happier children and more productive classrooms. After all, the last thing any parent wants is for their child to have feelings of sadness or pain.
Yet, though this rule may be advantageous to some children, a one method suits all approach may burden as many children as it benefits. Some children may find a bigger group of friends more daunting than one to one play, diverting – rather than solving – the problem.
Educational psychologist Gaynor Sbuttoni states that falling out, not having a best friend and feelings of loneliness are essential for children to experience. Throughout life, we have our positive experiences and our negative ones, and it is important to learn how to deal with what life throws at you. She argues that finding the ‘solution’ to dealing with pain is more important than preventing close bonds altogether. We should help children to deal with negative circumstances, as this would form a valuable life skill.
It is normal to form close knit bonds and society is teeming with them. Marriage is an exclusive, one to one relationship. Partners often refer to one another as their ‘other half’, or their ‘best friend’. Furthermore, portrayals of best friends dominate media, from Jess and Jules in Bend it Like Beckham and Friends, possibly the most obvious TV series featuring Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler and Monica! How can educators ban an experience which is so embedded in society?
Every head-teacher has their view on this, and ultimately it is down to the schools to decide whether they implement this approach. Life isn’t always fair and kind, and though the idea of group play had the good intention of preventing upset, it seems far better to equip children with the knowledge of how to deal with negative experiences. The pursuit of a best friend, though sometimes long, and with a fair share of disappointments can be one of the most rewarding journeys when it is achieved. There is no greater feeling of security and happiness to know that you have someone to turn to, and the positive feelings far exceed the negatives. It seems cruel and unnatural to breed a generation of children that are too scared to make a close bond.
Yuppee Magazine would love to know your thoughts on this! Do you agree with the policy or not? Leave a comment and let us know!