Looking back on my experiences through school, I have a very defined set of memories. For seven hours a day, I sat in a desk in a classroom listening, reading, and doing schoolwork. However, there is little room for any of that when I reflect on my educational experience. Not once have I ever tried to recall the exact nature of a word problem from second grade or the year I was assigned to research for several weeks during junior year. The knowledge has been absorbed, but not in a memorable way. Instead of specific memories of traditional education, my hippocampus was hard at work forming memories about the things that taught me most: fights and friendships.

Personally, I do not believe that you can have one without the other. You will always fight with your friends and you have to be friends with someone to legitimately fight because by fighting you are expressing that you care. I have had my fair share of friendships and fights and they have both been very influential in shaping my learning experiences.

Friends have played a large role in my educational process. They are the people that I looked to for help when schoolwork became overbearing or when extracurricular activities became too difficult to manage. In a school society, friends become a support system. They tutor and counsel. Without friendships, there would be little motivation for students to go to school. For example, if you ask my six-year-old cousin why he is excited for school, he is going to answer, “To see Ben and Ally” (his two best friends) instead of, “To learn how to write my name.” To him, if you took away Ben and Ally school would be pointless. Throughout my educational career, I have often felt the same way. It was the people that I got to see everyday that made me want to go to school. Friends made learning bearable. Friends made learning fun.

Of course, fights have also been integral learning tools. Fights teach young children how to communicate their frustrations on a primal level and how to ask for help when things get difficult. In middle school, I thought that I knew everything and that the fight was always the other person’s fault. During high school, I learned that I had been wrong in middle school. Fights during high school taught me empathy and how to see the other side of the situation. They also taught me how to compromise and how to apologize. Even in college, I have been able to learn through fights. My best friend, Nick, and I argue bi-weekly. We fight about politics, family, career decisions, gender roles, relationships, food and whether or not he is going to let me watch Grey’s Anatomy. Nick has been one of the best learning opportunities I have ever had because he teaches me one of the most important things in life: communication. Before our friendship (and fights), I had never been an effective communicator. Now, I am able to express my ideas to him in an appropriate manner. This has carried over into the classroom, as I have been able to be a more active participant in discussions. In addition to that, fights in college taught me not to get romantically involved with someone who lives in your building because elevator rides, regardless of the length, can be extremely awkward and uncomfortable when things go badly.

If a teacher were to tell me that I am “here to learn, not socialize”, I would be able to form a very strong response. I obviously disagree vehemently with that statement and because I have been able to develop my communication and conflict resolution skills through socialization, I would be able to explain that when used properly socializing is an important learning mechanism.