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Issues with the School of Friendship Arc


ManaMinori
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Season 8 is FiM is only half over, but it was a season that drew concerns from many fans. Where could Twilight and her friends go after obtaining Princess Status, being given map quests, spreading the magic of friendship and solving friendship problems to ponies everywhere, and getting into neighboring territories and species? Give them a school, of course!

 

This decision immediately bugged me, because it kind of goes against how Twilight and her friends were taught. You can’t teach friendship in an educational institution. Granted, I am proud that DHX had the Student 6 alleviating my initial concerns and having them learning to get along with each other only when it happened outside the classroom and without the teachers’ supervision, in “School Daze”. Bravo, DHX.

 

But many more concerns began to pop up in spite of this. The school itself seems like a really backhanded insult to other species that aren’t ponies, due to the fact that they’re too ignorant to know proper friendships. In all of the millenia than these other species have been existing, you mean to tell me that not one of their kind has ever known friendship, that they need to be taught it in an Equestrian learning institution? I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t gel with me. It seems more like “pony privilege” by inculcating their standards of friendship into other species, and painting it to look like they’re doing good.

 

One of the other main issues that I have with season 8 so far is Twilight’s attitude toward rival friendship schools, as seen in “Friendship University”. As the Princess of Friendship, her main and objective is to advocate the spread of friendship by anyone. But in this episode, it seems like she was more interested in monopolizing it. I may get a lot of hate for this, but I think the reason why is Starlight Glimmer.

 

Hear me out.

 

In “School Daze”, a bit of their dialogue went as followed:

 

Twilight: "I can't go against the EEA; they're in charge of all the Schools in Equestria!"

 

Starlight: "And YOU'RE in charge of all the FRIENDSHIP in Equestria!"...

 

Yeahhhh, that right there. That one line from Starlight has filled Twilight’s head with the idea to ‘buck the rules’ and enforce her will regardless to the objection of others. This is clearly displayed in her attitude and actions in “Friendship University”, when she feels the need to control the will and goals of other ponies, and prevent them from choosing their own school of friendship- that follows her own curriculum, even as a rival school- (Flim and Flam straight up plagiarized everything from Twilight’s school), but that’s not the issue here, the issue is her beloved idol- in spite of having chosen for himself- is being pressured by Twilight, who is dead set on the rival school being a scam, just because she doesn’t like who the school is being run by, and how the funds are being spent- which literally NO ONE else cares about- and wet so far as to sneak in and find reasons to shut the school down. It makes Twilight feel and look extremely petty, prejudice, spiteful, and selfish; like she’s set on monopolizing friendship. If she and her friends can’t teach it, then no one can. It really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

 

Sure, one could argue that this originally stemmed from Twilight’s desire to find her purpose, immediately after she had been crowned a Princess, and her line from “Twilight’s Kingdom”, in conversation with Celestia:

 

Celestia: You’ve been wondering what you are meant to do, as a Princess. Do you know now?

 

Twilight: As Princess, I believe I have the power to spread the magic of friendship across Equestria. That is the role I am meant to have in our world! The role I choose to have!

 

Perhaps she takes sole responsibility for the spread of friendship, ad THE PoF, but if that were true, then she wouldn’t trust her friends to do the task, either, and be treating them like Flim and Flam. Coco Pommel, and others have also been responsible for spreading friendship in spite of that line from Twilight in “Twilight’s Kingdom”. So she should not be justified in behaving how she did when she feels threatened by a “rival” school, which in actuality, teaches the same friendship lessons she’s been teaching, literally word for word,, because plagiarism, is able to reach to ponies in a location outside of Ponyville. It just makes her character looks like a massive butt, and her title as PoF meaningless.

 

But anyway, I’m over this school concept. It’s not needed, ad seen in the very first episode, and a majority of the episodes where the school is the focus really tick me off, because it butchers the characters that I’ve come to enjoy. These are just my thoughts on the topic of season 8.

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I see the school as a huge gateway. You see, in the first episode, the reason why it focused on other creatures was because everyone has a chance at friendship. You can’t rule them out. Neighsay represented the prejudiced society that only a certain people could be included. In Friendship University, this was further emphasized by promoting the prejudiced Friendship University and ultimately, trying to get Twilight to follow those views that friendship is “ultimately for ponies only”. So in conclusion, while sometimes the writers did not execute the lessons and ideas right in the school, the School of Friendship is ultimately touching topics that have never been touched before in FIM. 

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8 minutes ago, C. Thunder Dash said:

I see the school as a huge gateway. You see, in the first episode, the reason why it focused on other creatures was because everyone has a chance at friendship. You can’t rule them out. Neighsay represented the prejudiced society that only a certain people could be included. In Friendship University, this was further emphasized by promoting the prejudiced Friendship University and ultimately, trying to get Twilight to follow those views that friendship is “ultimately for ponies only”. So in conclusion, while sometimes the writers did not execute the lessons and ideas right in the school, the School of Friendship is ultimately touching topics that have never been touched before in FIM. 

I didn't rule them out. I specifically addressed the issue on why it was insulting to have the other species at the school, as if all the eons that their species has survived they have never known any sort of friendship. I also addressed the very contradictory issue of the student 6 learning it outside the school setting (which proves my point), and the senselessness of the actual school.

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I find the school of friendship interesting and it's a good thing for a few episodes but it does seem like all or most of season 8 revolves around it. I think they should kind of wander away from the concept for a while and maybe make a few episodes about it and the rest of the episodes about other characters and subjects.

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26 minutes ago, Nightmare Muffin said:

I didn't rule them out. I specifically addressed the issue on why it was insulting to have the other species at the school, as if all the eons that their species has survived they have never known any sort of friendship. I also addressed the very contradictory issue of the student 6 learning it outside the school setting (which proves my point), and the senselessness of the actual school.

Okay, the issue I have when people criticize Twilight for trying to teach Friendship to other races using her Friendship school is that...well, it's not only for other races? Ponies are going to the Friendship school too, heck most of the students seem to be ponies. People keep making such a big deal out of the other races attending while totally ignoring this factor. If Twi had made a friendship school and then all the students were ponies, I bet you someone on the forums would ask "Hey, why aren't there any of the other races?" instead.

  If Twilight wants to try and teach friendship, I don't see why it's so wrong to try and teach it to every creature who wants to learn. Plus, this idea that Twi's assuming that the other creatures don't know anything about friendship is kind of silly, unless you think she also believes ponies don't know anything about friendship, cause there's a lot of them in the school too, like I said.

 Also, as for some of your other criticism. The idea of a "School of Friendship" isn't entirely ridiculous. The school helps provide a safe, friendly environment for ponies and other creatures to meet and make friends with each other, they likely have plenty of downtime in the morning, in between and after classes to just hang out together. The lessons and teachers are there to serve as a general guideline to help set the students on the right track, and help them deal with problems, as well as get the students interacting with each other in class. The school clearly isn't meant to be your typical school with "One size fits all" lessons, that was the whole point of the premiere, that it wouldn't work like that.

 The fact that the students started getting along with each other outside of class is still, in a way, proof that the school works. The Student six would have likely never met without the school existing. They all quickly became friends because they went to the school, and while that was mostly on them, now they get to stay together there, learning how to be friends, with the Mane Six and Starlight there to help guide them.

Edited by BasementSparkle
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The school has not butchered any of the main cast aside from two episodes that damaged RD AJ and Rarity. The school is an okay plot device that I am glad has been mostly sidelined. The students are fun and the arc this season has been enjoyable enough. I do wish we could have had a followup arc on the pillars instead, but whatever.

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Friendship is spoke of as a doctrine during this season introduction. Which makes it an ideological teaching for this particular grouping, the mane six. But this notion seems to contradict the most basic concept of friendship about being oneself.

If you are conditioned by a given education, whether intrusive or not. Then, how do you expect others to know your person, rather than the behaviour you've been taught to emulate systematically? Another contradiction.

What was otherwise developed naturally, now is influenced by structure. The structure they proved to be damaging during the first two episodes. If said structure isn't really necessary, then the purpose of a school is also being contradicted by  the show.

They seem to have chosen an artificial manner of prolonging this generation lifespan and toyline.

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1 hour ago, Nightmare Muffin said:

As the Princess of Friendship, her main and objective is to advocate the spread of friendship by anyone. But in this episode, it seems like she was more interested in monopolizing it.

That's also the feeling I got from Twilight in Friendship University.

As Starlight said to Twilight: "she's in charge of all the friendship in Equestria", which means that Twilight should be concerned about how is friendship being teached at F&F's school and not about whether or not there's another school competing with hers, which is how Twilight addressed the issue.

We actually had a glance in "A Matter of Principals" of how could a school be teaching friendship the wrong way (in the classes of Iron Will and Cranky Doodle). That's what I had liked to be addressed by Twilight in FU, a Twilight who didn't care about competition but about the classes and lessons themselves.

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7 hours ago, Nightmare Muffin said:

I didn't rule them out. I specifically addressed the issue on why it was insulting to have the other species at the school, as if all the eons that their species has survived they have never known any sort of friendship. I also addressed the very contradictory issue of the student 6 learning it outside the school setting (which proves my point), and the senselessness of the actual school.

You actually did dismiss them, and you also dismissed the entire function and theme of the entire show. Let's tackle this through a real world examole. 

Infants and toddlers learn language from their environment. They learn counting and basic time from their environment. So should we suggest that learning grammar and advanced mathmatics is unnecessary? 

Of course friendships occur elsewhere, but advanced techniques could still be learned. That said, we've seen two cultures that don't have friendship as much as they focus on mutual benefit. You as the audience are expected to accept this as part of the same fantasy elements that suggest Klingons are honor focused, and Jawas are tinkerers. Such generalizations may not be realistic, but they are a hallmark of fantasy storytelling. 

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8 hours ago, Lord Midnight Madness said:

I find the school of friendship interesting and it's a good thing for a few episodes but it does seem like all or most of season 8 revolves around it. I think they should kind of wander away from the concept for a while and maybe make a few episodes about it and the rest of the episodes about other characters and subjects.

Well, the first halve has many episodes which don't revolve around the school. Episodes 3,4,5,6,7,8,10,11,12 all are not revolving around school. :dash:

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IMO friendship school is a pretty good idea for ending the show, everypony having a stable life and the school would be a perfect ending for Twilight. But Ha$bro just put it too soon, our Mane6 miraculously has extra time to be the teacher and the school is just Twilight's stumbling block for doing other things, such as working on the research about the locations, species appeared in the movie or even the "map quest".

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3 hours ago, Jeric said:

You actually did dismiss them, and you also dismissed the entire function and theme of the entire show. Let's tackle this through a real world examole. 

Infants and toddlers learn language from their environment. They learn counting and basic time from their environment. So should we suggest that learning grammar and advanced mathmatics is unnecessary? 

Of course friendships occur elsewhere, but advanced techniques could still be learned. That said, we've seen two cultures that don't have friendship as much as they focus on mutual benefit. You as the audience are expected to accept this as part of the same fantasy elements that suggest Klingons are honor focused, and Jawas are tinkerers. Such generalizations may not be realistic, but they are a hallmark of fantasy storytelling. 

I'm sorry but you are expecting us to accept that numerous groups of social sentient beings cannot develop friendship in their own environments when there is nothing that inhibits this from happening. This is not fantasy storytelling. It's not knowing how to human very well. Klingons and Jawas are what they are, but as social organisms they are capable of friendship and affection even if their cultures do not emphasize it. In other words: friendship cannot be used to describe a fantasy faction. Being friendly, on the other appendage, can be used for many; however, that can only hint at how hard it is to befriend a member of said faction.

 

For instance: griffins are proud and dragons are greedy. That's a proper generalization that tells you a bit about how a friendship with such a creature would look like. Yeah, I don't think you can learn how to befriend those in a pony school.

 

You can go full "muh kid show" mode if you like, but that changes nothing. Basic rules of friendship do not change with age or gender, and those are not taught in FIM, I'm afraid. In a way, I also dismiss the entire philosophy of FIM. Let it burn in its own complacency.

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My problem with the school is that it feels entirely phoned in. The season premiere is about the most they get out of the school, and the students seems like an interesting bunch, but any potential about them has gone down the toilet once the season finally started going by either doing nothing with them or making them feel like they're already experts on friendship. First half hardly has them around with only a couple of cameos at best, then the first episode that actually focuses on them is the worst in the season because it relies on butchering two well established characters for the sole purpose of making the students look good. In Non Compete Clause, Rainbow Dash and AJ are portrayed as awful an irresponsible teachers so obsessed with a reward while the students are portrayed as experts who already know what to do, and it's so blatant that all it does is make you hating the students because it just feels like a shallow attempt to make them look good in comparison. Second half fares a little better by giving them more focus, but when you see the episodes themselves it doesn't improve much, as Matter Of Principals is yet just another "Discord is an obnoxious dickbag but gets rewarded" episode with the students on the receiving end of Discord's bullshit. The End In Friend is pretty much the opposite NCC, where the inclusion of the school is actively getting in the way of the episode and forcing the episode's plot, which is more evident by how the episode drastically improves once the episode completely removes the school entirely and just focus entirely on RD and Rarity working together. The best appearance of the students is still Hearth's Warming Club and a lot of that is because the students(or really just Gallus) is actually given something to learn in it and tries to develop them. And this is the biggest issue with them, the Students are never given anything to learn, in fact they already seem like complete experts on friendship, which just makes the whole idea feel like a complete waste of time

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The Friendship School is a really silly idea for a lot of reasons. Where do the teachers find the time? Don't they have other jobs which would keep them busy? What are their qualifications? And is friendship really best taught in such a formal environment? But I've found that enjoying this show often requires me to put aside those kinds of questions, or I wouldn't be able to appreciate what the show actually does with its various dubious setups. 

Twilight's distaste for competition is something that wasn't really addressed sufficiently in that episode, and I think one good way to fix that would be to have another rival school pop up elsewhere which Twilight is more accepting of, having learned her lesson somewhere offscreen. I don't really expect that the show will mine this territory again, however. 

As said, the friendship school seems kinda equal-opportunity, as there are plenty of ponies attending as well. I think to mitigate the "pony superiority" implication entirely, however, Twilight would need to hire non-pony teachers; surely there are more people like Gabby who already know plenty about friendship. But then the show wouldn't be able to have the mane six as the school's staff, which would dilute the entire reason the school is interesting to me. 

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Probably the exemplars for how school-focused episodes should look are "Marks for the Effort" and "The Hearth's Warming Club." The former establishes a dynamic between the CMC and a student through which both are able to learn from the experience, and the latter expands upon the students' lives and personalities. The way the school has been mishandled this season seems to be more an extension of the show's lingering flaws than anything else - the way the writing team has become more and more out of touch with what made the show special to begin with. Even episodes like "Horse Play" and "Molt Down" benefit from the added context of the school, even if they could have just as easily existed without it. I think people underestimate its positive impact on the show. 

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I have to admit I'm not fond of the friendship school idea and felt some of the joy of watching the show starting to drop. When the season first started, I was worried the Mane 6 would be pushed to background characters with the students taking over every episode but it wound up not working that way.

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IMO the friendship school idea has always been kinda a shaky premise, being relevant but unessential at best and shoehorned and detracting at worst. I agree with the idea that's it's a little self-defeating given that the Student Six have had their most meaningful interactions have been outside of the classroom (The premiere, Hearth's Warming Club, Smolder in Molt Down). Still, you have to give it credit for bringing them together and allowing those interactions to happen in the first place. 

A Reddit thread I found a month or so ago has a post that explains my thoughts on the school pretty well. The topic as a whole discussed the questionable curriculum in the school (a sign that we bronies take this show very seriously), which is a different topic itself.

The idea of a friendship school is very nebulous to begin with and clearly, writers don't have a clear goal for it.

We pretty much just have to accept that it is going to be simply a segway for individual stories/characters/locations and without a comprehensive backbone. The formal "lessons" (aka in classroom ones) are just going to be mainly played for humor - not to give us an insight to how friendship is being taught.

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Since the start of Season 8, Twilight still hasn't answered any of Neighsay's concerns and criticism of her being able to run a functioning school. Starlight Glimmer talks Twilight into continue running it the same flawed way she already did that got it shut down. These flaws rear their head up in later episodes of the season.

Edited by Singe
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8 hours ago, This Whomps said:

My problem with the school is that it feels entirely phoned in. The season premiere is about the most they get out of the school, and the students seems like an interesting bunch, but any potential about them has gone down the toilet once the season finally started going by either doing nothing with them or making them feel like they're already experts on friendship. First half hardly has them around with only a couple of cameos at best, then the first episode that actually focuses on them is the worst in the season because it relies on butchering two well established characters for the sole purpose of making the students look good. In Non Compete Clause, Rainbow Dash and AJ are portrayed as awful an irresponsible teachers so obsessed with a reward while the students are portrayed as experts who already know what to do, and it's so blatant that all it does is make you hating the students because it just feels like a shallow attempt to make them look good in comparison. Second half fares a little better by giving them more focus, but when you see the episodes themselves it doesn't improve much, as Matter Of Principals is yet just another "Discord is an obnoxious dickbag but gets rewarded" episode with the students on the receiving end of Discord's bullshit. The End In Friend is pretty much the opposite NCC, where the inclusion of the school is actively getting in the way of the episode and forcing the episode's plot, which is more evident by how the episode drastically improves once the episode completely removes the school entirely and just focus entirely on RD and Rarity working together. The best appearance of the students is still Hearth's Warming Club and a lot of that is because the students(or really just Gallus) is actually given something to learn in it and tries to develop them. And this is the biggest issue with them, the Students are never given anything to learn, in fact they already seem like complete experts on friendship, which just makes the whole idea feel like a complete waste of time

I'm not even sure what the Student Six's personalities are supposed to be, and we're more than halfway through the season. Except for Gallus, they feel completely one-dimensional. This season continuously misses opportunities to develop them. 

Edited by VG_Addict
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33 minutes ago, VG_Addict said:

I'm not even sure what the Student Six's personalities are supposed to be, and we're more than halfway through the season. Except for Gallus, they feel completely one-dimensional. This season continuously misses opportunities to develop them. 

I know. They're basically token creatures of the school for Twilight to say, "See we are teaching friendship with other creatures." It's like Twilight isn't even trying to get other creatures to attend except mostly ponies.

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with episodes like Non Compete Cause and The End in Friend, I really don't think so. The Mane 6 are having to be dumbed down and learn lessons that they should've earned early on- and have learned already-  in order for the Student 6 to learn anything, which seems contradictory, because in episodes like School Daze,  Non Compete Cause and Hearth's Warming Club, the Student 6 learn friendship in spite of the teachers stupidity and/ or their own differences.

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I'd argue "no" regardless, because none of them have any sort of training in teaching, and presumably barely fit the school into their busy schedules. With the show's inconsistency, though, I don't really want to judge the mane six for their worst moments. Still, Rarity ordered a bunch of sewing machines for her class. I dunno what she thinks she's doing there. 

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No, they're not. They're pretty much just winging it by mixing friendship lessons with their normal skills of trade to fill time. I've said it before, Twilight has never addressed any of Neighsay's valid criticism and concerns.

Also to take into consideration that the Mane 5 have other responsibilities and we're suppose to suspend disbelief that they would drop everything to work at Twilight's school. 

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