Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Fixing those fragile campus kids

“Safe spaces” on uni campuses where students’ delicate sensibilities are protected.

Sensitive wee flowers so terrified of being “micro-aggressed” they bully anyone their feelings tell them might “trigger” them.

Mob rule on campuses demanding “freedom” from ideas or even events that might challenge them.

Self-infantilising students everywhere are finding ideas so scary they're demanding you check your privilege and check out of their personal and public spaces:

  • A Colorado University anti-racism rally was recently cancelled because the organisers are white.
  • Free yoga classes at the University of Ottawa were recently cancelled  because yoga is now apparently inappropriate cultural appropriation.
  • Students at Yale spit on other students and try to get their professors ousted because said professors don’t believe it’s their job to police Halloween costumes for political correctness.
  • Cambridge University students demanding that anti-abortion speakers be barred from speaking on campus
  • University College London’s students’ union (UCLU) voted to ban Nietzsche reading groups on the grounds the ‘far-right, fascist ideology’ threatened the ‘safety of the UCL student body and UCLU members.’

So well-satirised in this wonderful short film, from the UK to the USA to Australia to little old NZ “University has become the place for teenagers to go when they wish to delay being an adult, rather than being the bridge to independence it was once considered to be.”

So what can be done?

Recently on Sam Harris’ podcast, Douglas Murray said something amazing. He said:

The surprising thing is not that young people would rebel. Young people have always rebelled. That’s what young people do. The surprising thing is why the adults give in.
    I think this is far more relevant today than in 1968. The amazing question that hovers over Yale University is why the adults take it and the kids run rampage over Yale University. And this is the really large problem which Islamists and other terrible people are simply taking advantage of.
    Somebody needs to say to the girl shrieking at her professor, 'If you cannot cope with Halloween costumes, then you’ve got no place at a university, because you’re going to have no chance at dealing with quantum physics or Shakespeare or Heidegger if Halloween spooks you out this much. You’re a useless person, and you’re going to go into a useless career, because if you’re a lawyer, and you’ve gone to Yale, but you’re too sensitive to hear about rape cases, you're not going to be able to represent anyone in a court of law. You’re no use to law. You’re no use for literature because you might read a novel that will trigger you. You’re no use for the sciences. You’re no use for anything.'
And that’s what the adults should be saying.

They should. But how do we fix the problem? And how do we find young folk who are any use to law, to literature, to science?

At root, “post-modernism, deconstructionism and progressive education have caused today's rebellion against the mind,” so in the end you have to blame the philosophers for the campus insanity. But fixing the philosophy requires new philosophers on campus ready and able to challenge the regressive post-modernists. Which means, independent young thinkers.

Where are they going to come from in our mollycoddled over-nannied world?

Here’s another answer. Jonathan Haidt, the NYU Professor who co-authored the explosive Atlantic piece,”The Coddling of the American Mind,” was asked “how to prevent another wave of kids on campus who can’t handle reading a disturbing book, or sharing the campus with a visiting speaker whose views contrast with their own.” In an article titled “Revenge of the Coddled” he responded that we have to “think young.” So obviously, education committed to encouraging independence in young children such as Montessori education is crucial. But there’s so much, says Haidt, that parents themselves can do:

Children are anti-fragile. They have to have many, many experiences of failure, fear, and being challenged. Then they have to figure out ways to get themselves through it. If you deprive children of those experiences for eighteen years and then send them to college, they cannot cope. They don’t know what to do. The first time a romantic relationship fails or they get a low grade, they are not prepared because they have been rendered fragile by their childhoods. So until we can change childhood in America, we won’t be able to roll this back and make room of open debate.
    My biggest prescription is that in every hospital delivery room, along with that first set of free diapers, should come the book: Free-Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy. If everyone in America read the book Free-Range Kids the problem would be over in 21 years, when the first set of tougher kids filled our universities.

Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy reaffirms that

the way to raise resilient kids is to be sceptical about the message we get all the time that they are just moments from doom: An encounter that will haunt them, a loss that will derail them, or an unsupervised couple of minutes that will result in their disappearance. Our society obsesses about the way kids can die in an instant, and ignores the fact that 99.9999% of them won’t, and most of THOSE will emerge no worse (and possibly better) for the wear.
    Haidt’s premise is that by avoiding more and more of our “fear triggers” (like, “She’ll die if she goes around the corner without me!”) we give those fears more power. They grow, and so does our kids’ anxiety.
    I love safety, but it’s true that
once we let our kids do things on their own, the pride and confidence that they feel and that WE feel goes a long way to restoring “normal anxiety” back to its set point, instead of the red alert it is on today, all the time.
Including on campus.

[Hat tip Monica Beth]

1 comment:

  1. Excellent article!

    The US seems to be totally unfamiliar with the very useful phrase "HTFU". That's *exactly* what these poor wee dears needed to have heard at least a *few* times during their formative years.
    Now, the West (and the US in particular) is reaping the harvest of "cottonwool parenting", and what an abysmal and pathetic harvest it is.

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