"All Alone! Whether you like it or not!" Teaching solitude to overcome loneliness

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


“All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You’ll be quite a lot.” (Dr Seuss)

In his inimitable style, Dr Seuss prepares his young readers for a life peppered with moments of solitude. Yet, this may seem far removed to a young person today who rarely finds themselves alone; if not always physically close others, then connected to them with technology. Curious, then, that in an overtly social world, loneliness pervades.

I argue that a contributor to this is the “forced togetherness” of educational spaces which occurs when attempting to reconcile an approach which encourages individuality, while holding each participant to the same intellectual, developmental, and social benchmarks. Furthermore, the use of time alone as a punishment cultivates a dislike – fear, perhaps - among the young of being alone; consequently, in adulthood, aloneness is seen as something to be avoided.

This paper draws from discourses in education and philosophy to offer an argument in favour of a pedagogy of solitude, in which time afforded to a student to be alone – and an effort from the educator in making the student comfortable being alone - serves to improve the student’s relation to themselves, and, just as importantly, to others . With this in mind, the explicit teaching of schoolchildren in the practice of solitude could be considered an important component of a successful RSE curriculum, particularly if, as in the Scottish curriculum, it has the broad of aim of developing “an understanding of how to maintain positive relationships with a variety of people.”

Furthermore, I theorise that this chance to reap the benefits of solitude in youth, nurturing and strengthening the relationship we have with ourselves, can only come to reduce loneliness in later life.
Period4 Jun 2021
Event titleRelationships and Sex Education: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives
Event typeConference
Degree of RecognitionInternational