June 16, 2010

Reason to consider unschooling, #297

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 11:37 pm by chavisory

From the New York Times this evening, “The End of the Best Friend,” about school officials attempting to regulate the closeness of elementary school-aged best friend pairs–and curtail it if they see fit.  The article quotes Christine Laycob, a director of counseling at St. Louis Country Day School:

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend.  We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”

No one who would say such a thing should be allowed around children.


  1. Clay said,

    I read that earlier today, and it reminded me about some of your posts on bullying. It’s laughable that the defenders of this practice describe it as an anti-bullying measure. If there’s merely a band of loose associates and no tight connections, the problem will only get worse.

    • chavisory said,

      Yeah, the fact that they can’t see the difference between a normal best friendship, and the kinds of dynamics that lead to cruelty and bullying, is really disturbing to me. And that they would see punishing children who have close friendships as an effective bullying deterrent…I really have no words. Lots of fake friends are better than a few close friends?

  2. brandy said,

    I wonder how prevalent this is outside of upper-middle-class suburbs. Notice that the person they interview is from St Louis Country Day. In fact, I often wonder how much things like helicopter parenting, scheduled play dates, etc happen outside of those settings, in blue collar neighborhoods where everyone isn’t necessarily trying to keep up with the latest parenting fashions. Or maybe it’s there, too. I just can’t imagine the parents I grew up with (in Wyandotte County) interfering to this level, while the Park Hill parents it makes a lot more sense.

    • chavisory said,

      I agree–school districts that have bigger actual problems than trying to control who kids are friends with probably do not have the time or energy to engage in stuff like this. I do remember it from Park Hill, though. My sister and her best friend were deliberately separated in middle school with the excuse that they “needed to learn how to socialize,” which, if you knew my sister, was just an absurd thing to say. Jess and I weren’t in the same class between 2nd and 8th grades, and I’d bet money that that was deliberate–but we lived so close that we were together all the time anyway. It probably wasn’t concern for us being together too much so much as concern for any teacher who had to deal with us both at the same time.

      I do also wonder, honestly, how much of a general trend this is, as the Times sort of has a habit of making “lifestyle” articles out of interviews with a few people from very particular circumstances.

  3. Sara said,

    It’s as if these people don’t perceive the cruelty of their policies, and as if children are less than human to them.

  4. MinaMinaMina said,

    Though I do like to joke that I’m a bureaucrat deep down, honestly, this is all about bureaucracy. If the administrator of a posh school doesn’t have anything better to do than, say, pick her nose she must for the love of all that is holy come up with *something* to make it appear that the over-priced tuition these parents are paying is going toward educational progress. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Unless, you are an over-payed, know-it-all, thumbs-up-the bum administrator who wants to make their mark on kids. Genuine good intentions or not, the game here is wrong and teaches children that it is not ok to form strong, healthy relationships on your own, you must “do as I say and you will be friends with whomever I chose”.

    • MinaMinaMina said,

      I would also like to add, this isn’t an idea that’s relegated to school administrators only, when I was working in a nursing home, the administration was so oblivious to the way things actually worked and how worthless putting new policies into place really was. (They had no idea how much time it really takes to assist an individual whose dementia was so bad they forgot how to brush their teeth). It’s so easy to sell yourself as a posh “retirement community” based upon patient-directed care, but if you’re under staffed and refuse to admit that the employee turnover rate is ridiculous, you are in denial that your business plan is completely warped. The administrators had their nursing credentials, but hadn’t actually worked in a clinical setting since receiving said credentials, their primary focus was to get their Master’s in Nursing and become an administrator to make more money. IMHO, most administrators don’t actually like the field they specialize in, rather, they enjoy delegating stuff to people.

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