Here, the New York Times tells us that “some educators and other professionals who work with children” are trying to get kids to eschew best friends for a group of less best friends. The thinking is that it will help avert the pernicious specter of bullying and cliques. Of course, these experts have read Going Postal. They are assessing their schools for bullying factors and they have located a primary culprit: the best friend.
The critics—some other, different, professionals who work with children—make persuasive points: Kids are learning that multiple superficial acquaintances are better than a solid, intimate friendship with one person. Kids need to be able to learn to discern a good friend on their own. Their romantic relationships could be affected. Some educators and other professionals who work with children might be a little too meddlesome.
Of course, the new adherents are undeterred. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. And why not? They are experts. I am sure they all go home and have perfect marriages, relationships, and friendships. Their circle of friends is not too small and not too large—no one too close or too far away, really. And I am sure there is a lot of research to back up these views. But the article does not cite any studies. Segregation works, right?
There is age segregation. It would seem children are best prepared for life by spending most of their time with people their own age. This is not really seen in the “real world,” necessarily. However, experts know what they are talking about and this is what has evolved over the last hundred years. And then there is the segregation of the “Gifted” and the “Special.” Again, why remove the “Gifted” and “Special” from the general population? Many schools do this. Again, experts know what they are talking about so it is best not to question such practices. Every population is further segregated by their test scores: Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic.
It is all very healthy for emotional and intellectual development. Clearly, experts know what they are doing and the further segregation and isolation of children is warranted. I hope the sarcasm is coming through. I cannot always tell.
Why do we so easily acquiesce to “some experts” when there are other experts available to provide a cogent counter-argument? What criteria does the paper of record use to determine that the “End of the Best Friend” advocates should get the last word? Is that the end of the debate? Gee, it makes a lot of sense to have some expert educators tell me how to structure the social lives of my children—again, with the sarcasm. Is there any science behind this?
Scratch that. We would need to have studies on whether all that other segregation is warranted. It is probably not worth the effort to have science verify what some educators and some professionals and the paper of record already know.