There is a new trend cropping up in the American Universities and Colleges. In the article The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, there is sufficient evidence that students are gradually beginning to be successful in determining what and how they are taught. The students who are well set in organized groups seek to eradicate the use of words, ideas, subjects and actions that may cause discomfort or appear to offend them. The authors in this article recognize that the new trend in the American higher education institutions poses a great threat to the scholarship and quality in the institutions. However, Lukianoff and Haidt (2015) seek to answer a few questions in their article. The first question addresses the effects of the new trend of student protectiveness on the students. The other question is whether students are learning given the strict conditions that are under the scrutiny of the syllabus, what is taught and how it is delivered to the students. The authors give evidence of the changing times in American universities and offer a solution to the rising problem.
This article clearly starts by acknowledging the fact that American colleges and University students are conscious of what they are taught, the words, actions, and subjects. The students are keen to eradicate anything that may offend them and make them uncomfortable. The authors prove that students are less tolerant when it comes to issues that make them uncomfortable in the class by indicating that even popular comedians that would perform in colleges and universities have stopped performing in these learning institutions. Some of the comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have gone ahead and branded the University and college students as over sensitive and claimed the students can no longer take a joke. Just recently a professor was being investigated after she posted an article called The Chronicles of higher education that focused on campuses sexual paranoia. She was investigated by some students who were offended by the article reported the professor.
The authors also argue that the new movement is gradually being institutionalized. The action has affected what can be said in the classroom even if it is just for discussion. The authors give an example of the University of California where the deans and department of chairs were presented with examples of microaggressions. In the list, one of the offensive statements included I believe the most qualified person should get the job. The authors agree with the press description of the new trend as a resurgence of political correctness. However, there is a difference between what is happening now and what happened in the 80s. According to the authors, currently the movement is more about emotional well-being. In the 1980s, the movement aimed at restricting the freedom of speech with emphasis on the hate speech. As much it was all about hate speech in the 80s, it was also about challenging the literary, historical and philosophical canon. The main aim of the current movement is to ensure that campuses are safe spaces that ensure the security of young adults against words and actions that may make them uncomfortable. A significant difference between the two movements in the 80s and currently according to the article is that in the current movement anyone who interferes with the aim is punished whether they intended it or it was by accident.
The Socratic way of teaching leads to critical thinking. The critical thinking is made possible by allowing students to question their beliefs and the wisdom that they have received from the people around them. In the process of understanding, the learner may be made uncomfortable and angry. Something different happens when the vindictive protectiveness is involved. Students start thinking in a different manner. Students are prepared poorly for their lives as professionals. The reason being that for one to prosper in their professional lives and life, in general, they will indulge and socialize with different people who sometimes may be offensive. By encouraging speech policing and punishing speakers, the pattern of thinking is endangered. The protectiveness may lead to students thinking pathologically. A culture of thinking twice is created because no one wants to face punishment for insensitivity or aggression.
The authors in this article have blamed the way children are brought up and social media as the causes of the new development in American higher learning institutions. Children used to be allowed to play outside and learn many different things by themselves. However with the rise in insecurity and cases of abductions, parents became more protective. In 1984 images of abducted children were put up in milk cartons to find them. The millennial was always reminded of how life is dangerous after that. Politics has also played a part especially with the fact that the Republicans and the Democrats dont see eye to eye. Children coming from these dived families grow up biased. For such reasons, students join campuses with guards already aware of the possible dangers and show hostility to opponents who do not share same ideologies. Social media has played the role of easy recruitment that allows many people to join certain crusades. Social media has made it possible for students and faculty to relate, but most faculty members fear that students can easily create mobs against them through social media and, therefore, are careful about what they say to them and how they treat the students.
The authors believe that there are steps that can be taken to cure the new development. I agree with the authors that protecting students from actions and words is not good for them. The students will be faced with more challenges when they are outside the class. Instead, the students should be equipped so as to thrive in the world where there is the use of words and actions that cannot be controlled. The federal government must release universities from the fear of unnecessary investigations. University must do away with trigger warnings. Most importantly university must encourage freedom of speech and welcome students to take part in it.
In conclusion, it is true that there is a movement in American higher learning institution. Freedom of speech is limited for fear of offending students and subsequently being punished. The movement is unnecessary because in the end it causes more harm than good for the students. I agree with this article, and it has made me feel like the protection and tolerance given to students as far as action, subjects and words are concerned is unnecessary. The protection will do more harm than good. What happens to a student who has to move to a foreign country in Africa? Will they be able to survive if they spent four years being protected instead of being encouraged to discuss and be open minded? No, they will not. I believe that the new movement in the American higher education institutions is a wrong move that can only protect the students there but not outside the institution. If the suggested solutions are followed then, the student will have a higher chance of surviving outside the school.
Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (January 01, 2015). The Coddling of the American Mind.Atlantic Monthly, 316, 2, 42-53.
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