…If only. I find that the student culture, the “culture of schoolchildren,” as well as the fights and friendships that influence the positive or negative experiences of schoolchildren, to be overvalued. I’m not saying that friendships and social experiences do not play a role in schooling. If I were I’d be markedly delusional, naïve, and socially unperceptive. Rather I find that the role of social interaction should be mitigated, marginal to curricula-based learning, and secondary to measurable educational standards and testing.

When you go to school you are there to learn, to absorb material that is unattainable elsewhere. The cultures that socialize an individual, from friendship to economic status to religion to media, are constantly webbed and interwoven into all experiences. There is no real need to foster such cultures while in school because they already interject and define all aspects of social interaction naturally. When such cultures – cultures that do not directly relate to or facilitate quantifiable educational stimuli – play a greater role, they cause a direct decline in the primary labeled areas of focus (whether it be in math, reading, science, social studies, religion, philosophy, etc.).

Take for example the kindergarten case from the mini-lecture. If the student body, at the age of five, is capable teach “kids to count or to read or to know their colors and shapes.” That is the point of school! It is the reason a child attends kindergarten. The social interactions that the teacher in that case emphasized, to the desertion of subject-based learning, occur automatically. It is exactly that attitude – one that imposes an imbalanced weight on social training, interaction, and discipline – which hinders growth. In the US, this attitude is most prevalent. The standards of old and the educational syllabi have been sidelined. Statistically, US children are behind in standard subject examination scores compared to other Western countries. School is primarily for learning not socializing. Students will socialize anyway, so focus on the task at hand.

Personally, beyond the scope of kindergarten, I find this to be a major issue in my current learning experience. It is in fact an issue I have with Macaulay Honors and the Music Conservatory at Brooklyn College. In Macaulay, seminars, class discussions, forced collaborations, and group activities are overly assigned. I understand the benefits of such interactions, as well as the goals intended, but the forced social interactions have often become obsessions. What happened to textbooks and lectures? I have found that my most productive and long lasting endeavors in Macaulay were when I was sitting in a classroom analyzing texts through lecture and traditional discussion, not through activities. The same goes for my music composition major. It has become all too frequent that forced interactions are imposed in order to familiarize students with social scenes, settings, and people. I often think – what about the music itself? In both cases, music and Macaulay, I don’t want to give the impression that they are bad programs, rather that regarding the topic of socializing versus learning, the latter is often abandoned in favor of the culture of human interaction.