If you can control the minds of children, you will ultimately control the world.
It takes patience – decades, really. But with the right social engineering, you can transform entire civilizations into hollow caricatures of themselves, with only the colors and motions on the surface, and a bizarre, Orwellian brainwashed civilization underneath.
Perhaps this analogy is a bit much, but it’s the first thing I thought when I discovered that there are schools where students are banned from having “best friends.”
It’s too “exclusionary,” they say: You’re friends with everyone. Picking and choosing who you like more causes hurt feelings and negativity.
This is common in schools across the West, but it’s being noticed now that young Prince George – William’s youngest – is starting to attend school. He’s now four years old.
At London’s Battersea, there are no “best friends” allowed. Rather, teachers tell all students to be friends with everyone to “avoid creating feelings of exclusions among those without best friends,” Marie Claire reports.
Other parents report the same thing: their children are encouraged to be friendly with all classmates and not pick a favorite.
“There are signs everywhere saying ‘be kind’ – that’s the ethos of the school,’ one parent said. “They don’t encourage you to have best friends.”
This extends to birthday parties: if you’re going to pass out invitations to a party, unless you invite every kid, you don’t invite anyone.
Of course, Marie Claire thinks this new order is great. “While the idea of stopping the children from having best friends sounds unusual, the idea behind it is actually very kind and inclusive,” they write. “Prince George might not get a bestie, but we’re sure he won’t be short of friends.”
At my kids’ school, there was no hard-and-fast rule about passing out birthday invitations in the younger grades – say Kindergarten through second grade – but it was assumed that you invited everyone, so nobody felt left out. When I asked a teacher about this, she just shrugged her shoulders.
To justify this, some psychologists and parents argue kids become more well-adjusted when they have larger friend groups and can avoid negative feelings associated with feeling left out, Business Insider reports.
Of course, not being able to choose who you like and who you don’t robs young children of valuable coping skills. Children who are “mildly excluded” from social events will learn as they grow to develop the social ability they need to become more “friendly” – or they won’t. It’s a way they can emerge as capable, resilient adults.
In Canada, the practice has taken bizarre new forms. Schools actually dictate who can be friends with whom, shuffling students around in an artificial circle of friends so they can “explore a range of peers.”
A wealth of research indicates best friends create value for people throughout their lives. One study recently published in Child Development found people with best friends enjoyed better mental health well into adulthood.
“We weren’t surprised that better adolescent close friendships turned out to be important, but we were surprised by just how important they turned out to be into adulthood,” Rachel Narr, University of Virginia doctoral student and lead author of the study, told New York Magazine.
What do you think? Should young kids be forced to avoid “best friends,” and instead be friendly with everyone equally? Or is this social engineering run amok? Sound off below!