imapt

More on friendships at school

We've been thinking about the different forms that school friendships can take.

Simply thinking about friendship throws up some really interesting points for discussion, connected to what friends are, what qualities we should show when interacting with each other, and how we win each other's trust. These are all worth talking about at school. Mantra Lingua publishes a couple of books which got me thinking anew about these things (even though I'm technically a bit old for the target audience). For instance, the retelling of The Little Red Hen (written by a lady named L.R. Hen, apparently, and the winner of an award) has some added twists which ask the reader to analyse the meaning of friendship and mutual giving.

For educators, this train of thought invites us to interrogate how we support children socially, and what systems at school work for them. What of the introverts, for instance? You probably know that famous TED talk by Susan Cain. What's the right balance between solo and group work? In what light should we view the concept of friendship? In trying to be good to each other? In close personal friendships? In expecting children to get along in a group? And how do we manage this important life-skill anyway?

In the last post, I suggested that a conversation about friendship could expand outwards into a vital conversation about community-building. It would also show how your school both values inclusive social interaction, and encourages students to feel a sense of ownership of their education. You could do this with any age-group. Many of you probably do it already. 

This is also a good time to look at what adults can do to encourage friendship. This sheet, which usefully includes advice on inclusion and acceptance of people with and without disabilities, states some obvious things, but it's quite useful to have them written down.

Let's encourage friendship and social goodness, whilst also allowing every child space for his or her needs.