Friendship is essential to happiness, but is in precipitous decline. What can we do about it ?
Americans are suffering from an epidemic of loneliness as fewer and fewer of us enjoy the benefit of real friendships. The personal and social impact is significant and serious, leading to an upsurge in isolation that is transforming our lives and our communities—and not for the better.
It used to be the case that parents could take for granted the idea that their children would learn how to develop friendships at school, but increasingly that seems not to be the case. Indices of social health suggest that the consequences are dire. In this remarkable commentary, Thomas Hibbs, the new president of the University of Dallas, explains why friendship is essential to human happiness, the significance of its conspicuous decline, and what education and friendship have to do with one another.
One of the often overlooked effects of Classical education is that it deliberately and effectively creates the conditions for students to grow in friendship. By knitting students together as a learning community that shares encounters with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, Classical education presents students with a common experience of ennobling and praiseworthy subjects. Their shared striving for understanding, their support for one another in the challenges of the classroom and the playground, and their collective artistic, athletic, and academic triumphs forge the kinds of friendships that endure and sustain us.
At OLMC, we recognize that friendship is intrinsically noble and desirable, and we honor it as a central and necessary ingredient of human life. From our classrooms, which provide an encouraging environment for risk taking, making mistakes, persevering, and learning, to our House system, which cultivates a shared sense of purpose, to a curriculum that celebrates civic-mindedness and amicable discourse, our students feel known, accepted, and loved. In this way, we intentionally create the conditions in which friendship will flourish—not only as members of a school, but for a lifetime.