What if we honored solitude as we honor group thinking?

Apologize for not catching up to all that is going on with climate environmental news. Yes, even bloggers — perhaps especially bloggers — can suffer from environmental overwhelm. 

In response, perhaps, have been reading into solitude lately, notably an appropriately thoughtful book called The Republic of Noise, an award-winning book from 2012, that looks at solitude and how it is being eroded by society today. The writer, Diana Senechal, is a teacher, and takes issue with her profession's incessant focus on group activities and thought. 

To put it plainly: as long as schools emphasize working in groups, getting along with group members, completing tasks together, and networking online, students will not learn to put forth ideas as ideas; they will not learn to stand apart from the group, either in public or in private. Relationships and products will take priority over clear and independent thought. 

But she also has a sense of humor, and include what I thought was a pretty funny description of what might happen if education did honor solitude the way it honors group activities. To wit:

…there is the danger that solitude might become a fad: that schools might embrace some sort of solutide movement and mention solitude at every turn. This could be worse than a neglect…schools would start having "solitude time," but it would be prescribed solitude: students would have to write in journals and perhaps even "share their solitudes" with the class afterward. There would be a forced sanctity to it: "Shh! The children are in solitude!" There would be solitude charts on the wall. Professional development sessions on "strategies" for "managing solitude" would be conducted. Administrators would go on "solitude appreciation retreats" where they would discuss solitude in small groups and give each other a "Woot!" at the end. 

Well, okay, yes, that wouldn't be good, would it? Perhaps those of us who really like solitude should appreciate how society doesn't, and accept our semi-outcast status in good grace. 


The Republic of Noise

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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