ABSTRACT

Teachers think of classes, guidance, committees, clubs, and events as distinct aspects of the school’s mission in cultivating the whole person. To most students, however, these same activities all simply provide chances to be with friends. In the halls, the playground, the gym, and classrooms the main student agenda is to be with peers. Inexperienced or ineffective teachers quickly find their classes overwhelmed by groups of students playing catch with a wadded up note, running to “base” in the back of the class, throwing bits of erasers, trading pictures of TV stars, doodling, singing the latest popular tune, and talking. During breaks, lunch recess, and afterschool clubs these activities emerge in full bloom. Given the limited time students spend with peers outside of school as well as the role of school in defining friendship categories and group boundaries, schools are truly the main stage for the drama of adolescent friendship during the middle school years.