This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
These are the nursery of whatever innovating tendencies there may be latent in the population. They are the one perfectly spontaneous form of social organization. In them differentiation is bred. They are not made, but grow. When a group ceases to be spontaneous it quietly breaks up, leaving the members free to give their time to other groups. Its organization is so simple that formalism can get no foothold. Its government is a little democracy; each member counts in the activity of a given moment for just what he is worth, quickly sensitive, however, to the wishes of his colleagues. It is so small and satisfies such an elemental need of human nature that it keeps up its existence independent of large organizations, and if need be even in defiance of them. The teacher or parent who undertakes to hold sway over the child too constantly, especially in a repressive way, finds that there is a marvelous capacity for developing unauthorized kinds of association. The primary group develops the capacity of its members. Each individual is a member, presumably, because the strongest impulses in him there find expression and appreciation.
Take the great innovator, the genius, if you please. When he gives his original ideas to the world, he does not usually reveal how those ideas were matured, how this feature was suggested by that friend in quiet conversation one day, how his own thoughts acquire clearness and force and practicality as he talks them over with his companions, how he begins to see his pet project becoming a reality only when he hears it echoed over the dinner table from the lips of his guests. These are the minutiae of invention that soon pass into oblivion, like the scaffolding of a building. But the architect knows that the scaffolding is necessary, and the teacher as the architect of personality should know that primary association is necessary to mature the possibilities of any human soul.
As the individual advances through life he never outgrows this dependence on primary association, but like every other formative influence it is especially important in early years. Children and young people must have many associates of their own age if they are to find the ones they need. In balancing the pros and cons between the large school and the small one this is a vital consideration. We see a boy spending his time mostly with three playmates; but that does not mean that he will have the play he needs in a place where there are only three possible playmates. He needs playmates of the right kind and in sufficient variety. As he grows toward maturity the range of the variety increases.
There is intellectual teamwork. ... In each subgroup - church, college, trade-union, or cooperative society - there goes on a joint working out of opinion as to the special problems and policies of that group; and while opinion may reflect the counsel of some sage member, it is usually the outcome of discussion and consensus, i.e. of cooperative thinking.
. . . Team-thinking goes on only among persons well matched in equipment. . . . - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 22, p. 307, Ross, "The Organization of Thought."