Recess is a key component of the elementary school schedule. Monkey bars, swing sets, play structures, dodge ball, and soccer field—all are fair game. Recess promises no shortage of options, and not much confusion about what to do once you choose one. There are rules to observe, procedures to follow, and in most cases an end goal in mind. Everything is structured.
Middle school is different. No more recess. No more play structures. No more swing sets. What emerges in middle-school is a completely new, heretofore undreamt of thing: unstructured social time. Hanging out. Acting cool. Chilling. No structure, no protocol, no procedure; just other people and empty space.
It can be terrifying. At least in dodge ball you know where to put your hands. When hanging out, it’s a mystery. Hands in pockets or out of pockets? Arms folded across chest or hanging at sides? Stand or sit? Move around or stay in one place? All are complicated decisions and potentially filled with social peril. Compared to this, algebra is a piece of cake.
Is all of this by design or just an accident? Either way, it is perfect preparation for college-age socializing on the quad or the eventual water cooler banter of adulthood.
Still, it isn’t easy to get used to.