So my fifteen middle schoolers covered quite an age range. So we let them for the most part settle into their own cliques. These were mostly age related and there was only a little friction. We occasionally shuffled them asking the older kids to provide some leadership for the younger ones. We also succeeded at having an identity as a whole.
So it raises the question whether cliques are always a bad thing? Cliques provide a sense of safety and security at this age. That doesn’t seem like a bad thing. The truth is everyone has insecurities and is looking for affirmation from others.
So when do cliques go bad. Cliques go bad in ways destructive to the larger community and they go bad in ways destructive to their members.
They hurt the larger community when they become a safe platform from which one strikes out at others. They go bad when they exist to exclude and shut out members of the larger community. They go bad when they embrace contempt or disdain for the larger community.
I think the members of the clique are hurt when the boundaries are permanent and impenetrable. By that I mean the members of the clique hardly exist outside the clique. They hurt the member when the member does not interact with the larger communities as they are naturally inclined to do but do so in ways that win the approval of the clique.
So writing and cliques.
In Henry on Fire, Henry and his friends see themselves at the bottom of the school social ladder and therefore would never see themselves as a clique. Yet they are. By the end of the book they add two friends but before book two begins those friends have moved away. In book two Henry wants to shut out of their group a boy he thinks is less cool than they are. Jamal and Fred are more than ready to embrace this new kid, but Henry struggles to get there.
As I have always said Henry is both the protagonist and antagonist in my story.