From Baby Knee Pads to Trigger Warnings: How Helicoptered Kids become Hypersensitive College Students

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This is the article everyone’s talking about: The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, on the cover of this month’s Atlantic. It discusses the idea taking root on college campuses that students cannot be exposed to any ideas, words or phrases that discomfort them in any way, even if that wasn’t anyone’s intent.

That’s why schools are embracing “trigger warnings” – warnings placed at the top of readings that might mention a topic that “triggers” a student’s flashback on some unpleasant episode in their lives. One Harvard Law Student went so far as to request the school not teach rape law, because hearing about that crime might re-traumatize anyone who’d lived through it.

The article also discusses “microaggressions” – remarks made, even innocently, that are received as blows by the person being addressed. For instance, asking, “Where were you born?”of an Asian or Hispanic student could come across as a hint that the speaker does not consider the other student totally American. That’s the “aggression.”

The  whole article is so brilliant, I am shamed by my simplistic reduction of it, but I want to get to the Free-Range meat of the matter: Why are college students being treated as so supremely fragile that they can’t read a book that’s disturbing, and must be constantly on the lookout for any remarks or attitudes that could somehow be labeled aggressive?

Because that’s how we have been taught to raise our children these past 20 or 30 years: thin-skinned, super-sensitive, and primed to turn to the authorities — parents, teachers, and now deans —  anytime they feel the slightest bit uncomfortable or aggrieved.

After all, this is the generation we raised with “baby knee pads” to make crawling less painful, and helmets to protect them while toddling. Somehow, we became utterly convinced that our kids bruise so easily and permanently that special precautions must be taken — precautions never needed until now. That message grew up into trigger warnings: Watch out, kids! You are too easily hurt.

This is also the generation that grew up getting trophies for 8th place. My son got one, on a league with nine teams. With that trophy came the same message: Kids, you are too fragile to handle the micro-misery of losing.

And this is also the generation of students who grew up surrounded by posters at school exhorting them to be on the lookout for bullying. When bullying is the thing you look for, bullying is what you see. The bullying of third grade becomes the micro-aggression on campus – often in the eye of the beholder, and always turned over to the authorities.

The article’s authors then ask the obvious question: Is this doing our kids any favors?

What are the effects of this new protectiveness on the students themselves? Does it benefit the people it is supposed to help? What exactly are students learning when they spend four years or more in  a community that polices unintentional slights, places warning labels on works of classic literature and in many other ways conveys the sense that words can be forms of violence that require strict control by campus authorities?

They are learning that they are as helpless and easily hurt as infants. This, of course, is not helping them at all — not in terms of their education, and not in terms of their psychological health. The authors quote a survey of the American College Health Association that found 54% of college students surveyed said they had felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the past 12 months — up from 49% just five years before.

Naturally you are going to feel anxious if you’ve been told from infancy that basic locomotion is dangerous, losing is unendurable, classmates are out to get you, and you are not equipped to stand up for yourself.

And it’s not that I blame us parents! I blame a society that keeps telling us, through products and programs and even laws, that our kids are in constant danger, so we must make things safer, safer, safer. For God’s sake, I got a press release last week from the Environmental Working Group asking restaurants to pledge to give kids only “asbestos-free” crayons — as if the tiny exposure to the tiny amount of asbestos in a crayon while waiting for the chicken fingers is going to scar their lungs for a lifetime. Our society sees every “micro” as “macro.”

Free-Range Kids has always championed our children’s resiliency. Not that we endorse danger or callousness or cruelty (who would?), but that we believe our kids can  roll with some punches — even touch an off-brand crayon — and live to see another, non-paranoid day.

In our understandable but misdirected desire to keep our kids super-safe we have succeeded in making them super-sensitive instead. Happy is the child, 8 or 18, who is not constantly afraid and aggrieved.

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Save that little head so it can be filled with microaggressions!

Save that little head so it can be filled with microaggressions! (Pictured is the Thudguard, “Infant Safety Hat.)

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181 Responses to From Baby Knee Pads to Trigger Warnings: How Helicoptered Kids become Hypersensitive College Students

  1. Stacey August 17, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    Glad you liked it! Awesome stuff.

  2. Nathan Neulinger August 17, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    “off-brand crayon” – I was with you up to there… that may be taking things a bit too far, those are terrible. 😉

  3. BL August 17, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    I want trigger warnings for anything containing the word “microaggression”.

  4. Greg August 17, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I happened to see an episode of “King of the Hill” just the other day that really said a lot. The woman on the show, who is a reporter, had to do an interview with a kid who sneaked in a pet. Since the story was about very little the reporter decided to take a different angle. If the boy could sneak in this animal what else could be brought in. If it were a weapon etc. etc. The “what if” spread like wildfire and everyone was in panic mode. Hank would say to the story that it is just a bunch of “if’s” and nothing more. It resulted in the reporter getting a spot on a network affiliated station. There was a good lesson in that ‘cartoon’.

  5. Lindsay August 17, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    My in-laws thought I was over-reacting when I requested that my (then) 8 month old son ride their four wheeler with a helmet. My mother reprimands me for not bringing the same (now) 4 year old son into the bathroom with me AT HOME! I guess I am kind of a middle of the road person. I was horribly bullied as a kid, to the point where I still can’t even say hi to the aggressor, and it’s been 20+ years. I also attended college where I never needed a trigger warning, and my stress was from taking care of a medically fragile baby while finishing my degree. Isn’t there a happy medium for this nation?

  6. Fiamma August 17, 2015 at 9:53 am #

    Okay, read my following response at your own risk. That is my “trigger warning”.

    I read this article the other day and I am sorry, but it infuriated me. No, I don’t want or need warnings on my books, just like I did not want warnings on my records back in the PMRC glory days. I don’t mind uncomfortable topics or subject matter. How else does one learn anything about the world? The kids must never read the news, must not even read history books. The fact that people are complaining about using the word rape in a class at Harvard Law because it might upset someone??? People harassing and reporting teachers because they make a silly joke or cover a topic that may bring up “unpleasant” feelings? It made me think of “Brave New World” and I don’t want to live like that. Sorry, I like to experience life and emotions. I don’t need some random young persons protection from them. Some of those kids have not even fully lived life yet, so do not repress my feelings as some evil thing that will destroy me.
    If people can’t hack difficult topics, they should be given a shotgun or some pills and brought somewhere to end it all because life is not always sanitized and happy nor easy. I wonder what these young adults think they are trying to achieve? Utopia? Ain’t gonna happen. This earth is old and life on it has always had a violent streak. No one wants to have horrible things happen to them, but they do. Cancer ripped away my mom and dad and for a full year I had a hard time watching or reading anything with cancer used as a story line. You know what I did? I avoided it best I could until I was ready. I am old enough to make the decision if I can read or watch something. I do not think that gives me the right to force everyone else down my path. This collective coddling shit has got to stop because I think it is way unhealthier to not address serious trauma than to push it aside and try to “forget”. You know, like 9/11 or Oklahoma City. It happened kids, no matter how much you try to put warnings on movies and books about it, these events happened and it scarred us to our cores. It changed many lives and it is part of history whether you trigger warn it or not.

    Thank you for letting me rant.

  7. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    Trigger warnings don’t bother me. Not because I think they’re necessary, but because if the choice comes down to “give people more information” and “give people less information”, I’m going to choose “more”.

    I think there are very few people who actually need anything like a “trigger warning” but the people who do, have real suffering. Belittling them for that suffering is cruel. Now, if other people choose to take the trigger warnings meant to protect them and use them for their own purposes, meh. Does me no harm. “Warnings” cut both ways. Libraries highlight books that have been banned, which increases demand for them. “Parental advisories” on music and games can be used to guide purchase decisions by adults as well as children.

    Will we also deride the process of reviewing movies and books? After all, the purpose of a review is to tell the consumer whether or not they might like this book or this movie… rather than allowing the consumer to confront those ideas directly.

  8. 5upMushroom August 17, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    I’m a free range parent. My 8 year old rides his bike to the park and plays for as long as he likes all summer long. My 5 year old has the run of the yard and plays outside in the front lawn unsupervised and somehow doesn’t get kidnapped.

    That being said, I am in favor of trigger warnings. I can’t understand the backlash against them. It’s a simple warning that says “We are going to talk about a troubling subject. Gird your loins.” It’s not saying “We are not going to talk about this subject because someone finds it uncomfortable” or “You are going to pass this class even if you choose to not learn this uncomfortable stuff”. It’s just a warning that the subject matter could be difficult.

    It’s a polite and reasonable thing to do.Our experiences are very different from one another. Things that don’t bother me (like seeing pictures of aborted fetuses in a biology course) may bother you deeply. Where as things that may not bother you (talking about the devastating effects of rape in a psychology course) may deeply bother me. Why surprise people with information that might cause them pain? Warn them first, and then move on with the info.

  9. savoir faire August 17, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for sharing this, Lenore.

    Here is an interesting read from the NY Times showing what can happen if we change our approach and let kids grow up in an empowered and confident manner without helicoptering:

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/parenting/2015/08/16/if-she-can-make-it-there-europe-shell-make-it-anywhere-college-right/

    One additional point regarding bullying — in our effort to promote a more realistic view of bullying that does not turn every schoolyard slight into a federal case, let’s not forget that the broad label of “bullying” also includes very severe forms that cause real harm — for example, targeting kids who are LGBT or have disabilities — and can be linked to depression and suicide. Just like every other risk to kids, we need to act on *actual* dangers, not *hypothetical* or worst-case scenarios, which means being observant but also being judicious when deciding when to intervene. Most bullying does not rise to this level of harm, so we need to raise kids to stick up for themselves and be confident in the face of your average bully.

  10. Renee Anne August 17, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    As someone that can understand and appreciate a trigger warning (or “TW” as we call it online in many places), I also know that I’m an adult and can decide to stop reading/watching/doing if it’s bothering me and either come back to it (like if it were for a class) or ignore it completely. It’s how I got through a lot of the aftermath of 9/11: I turned off the TV, stopped listening to the radio, and found something else to do.

    With that said, I still think trigger warnings are stupid. There are things we like to call teal deers (TL; DR, which means too long, don’t read) and it acts as a Reader’s Digest version of things. In professional papers, we call it the Abstract. In a graduate level thesis, it’s your thesis statement/paragraph. If you can’t get through that, then it’s your clue to do something else and either come back later or ignore it (but you need to know the difference – if it’s for school, you probably shouldn’t ignore it).

    Apparently we’ve become so fragile that anything unpleasant is bad. Get over it! Life isn’t fair, life can be cruel, and life can suck…..but it can also be wonderful, full of happiness, and not a pile of crap 🙂

  11. Fiamma August 17, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    James Pollock – You are not wrong in what you state. There are some folks out there who have been deeply traumatized, but the assumption is made that they are too ignorant or foolish to care for themselves.
    Also, these college kids are taking it to a different level. Imagine trying to teach a college level course and getting called out because certain words are considered “trigger warnings” and certain topics as well. Not sure how one can be a lawyer when people protest the word “violate” being used in a class about sexual assault laws.

    I use book reviews to decide if I want to read a novel, not looking for specific protection from “scary” subjects. Sure if someone wants to use it that way it is fine. This whole subject makes me think of people who home school to protect their kids form the “secular” world. As if reading a non religious book will destroy their minds instead of letting them think for themselves. The point is, they don’t want them to think for themselves and that is what these trigger warnings are to me. The assumption that people are too stupid to figure out that a trailer of a movie showing violence might upset them and that we need to label it even bigger so they don’t panic. For once I wish Americans would let go of needing warnings like “Too Hot” or “Don’t Put Hairdryer in Water” To be considered stupid is insulting and what is more insulting are the lawsuits that brought us here to this way of life.

  12. JJ August 17, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    To me a system of “trigger warnings” on college campuses highlights the idea of “two Americas”. One one hand we have hundreds of thousands of young adult veterans in this country who suffer from PTSD not to mention depression and other mental health problems and frankly nobody seems to care. But this other group of young Americans is so greatly coddled. I know that PTSD is legit for rape victims and in other scenarios–I am not saying it does not exist. But we are bending over backwards for the upper
    Middle class young adults at the same time we all but ignore the struggles of the mostly lower class Americans who fought for their country.

  13. olympia August 17, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    I’ve seen some people use “content note” rather than “trigger warning” to act as a heads up to people, and I do like that language a lot better. “Trigger” just seems so overreaching- sure, some people COULD be triggered into flashbacks or other mental setbacks, but that’s a far cry from being upset by disturbing material, which I’d have to guess is the more common response.

  14. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 10:40 am #

    “There are some folks out there who have been deeply traumatized, but the assumption is made that they are too ignorant or foolish to care for themselves.”
    Huh? Exactly who is making this assumption?

    “Imagine trying to teach a college level course”
    Not too difficult for me to do, seeing as it’s how I made my living for just over a decade.

    “Not sure how one can be a lawyer when people protest the word “violate” being used in a class about sexual assault laws.”
    At which point did I suggest that protesting the word “violate” being used in a class about sexual assault laws was appropriate? It isn’t. That’s not the same thing as putting in the syllabus that November 4 is the day rape is discussed in Criminal Law class. This lets the people who want to be taught something, to be taught, without having to refine it down to the lowest common denominator. Consider the options: A) teach disturbing material with no warnings, B) don’t teach disturbing material at all, C) provide enough information so that people can decide for themselves whether they want to be there.

    “The point is, they don’t want them to think for themselves and that is what these trigger warnings are to me.”
    It’s the exact opposite. Providing people with information is empowering them to make their own decision. What you’re complaining about is that some of them are using the information to make the decision in a way that you do not like. This means the problem is with YOU and not with THEM.
    If someone wants to avoid confronting a subject, maybe they have a good reason, or maybe they have the most frivolous reason of all time. Either way, it’s their choice to make, not mine, and not yours.

  15. Doug August 17, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    Here’s the issue with “trigger warnings”: they are not being used in an appropriate manner.

    “This book contains graphic depictions of violent sexual encounters” is one thing. But the more common warning is “this book contains possible gender stereotypes.” Or “this book discusses slavery.” Those two things do not require warnings, and are used to inhibit discussion instead of protect psyches.

    Trigger warnings are used by the new speech and thought police to stifle thought, not help people.

    For example, take the current spat over the Confederate flag. The discussion has been halted, the flags have come down, and The Dukes of Hazzard is no longer in syndication because someone might offended that the 1967 Charger with a flag painted on the top causes unfortuante side effects (namely, giving weak-willed twits the vapours). The discussion is done, despite the fact that no one in the past couple generations have actually been enslaved (minus some places in Africa, which STILL HAVE SLAVE MARKETS! But no, far more important to get into a huff about an inanimate object).

    What possible benefit could not teaching rape law have on society? None, but it does benefit those who lord over us. (“What crime am I accused of?” “I cannot tell you because it’s bad, but you’re going to jail nonetheless.”) If you cannot handle the discussion about rape law, don’t go to law school to learn about it.
    It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out the prerequisite.

  16. Peter August 17, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Of course, it works both ways. If someone complains that I think, say, or do something that “triggers” them or “aggresses” them, I can respond that I am a 58-year-old male. I act, think and speak as any 58-year-old male does. Therefore, their criticism is making me feel triggered and micro-aggreessed and they should check their privilege as an attacker who is not a 58-year-old male. (It works the same for whatever group you may be a part of, so go ahead and claim to feel aggressed about everything.)

  17. Stacey August 17, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    F your Trauma! We are supposed to learn to get over issues, not tip toe around them for ever.

    http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/26/facebook-doesnt-want-you-to-read-this-article/

  18. Fiamma August 17, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    James, I was referencing the talk points in the article, I never claimed you said anything. Apparently we both read the article and took different things away from it. I see it as a bunch of young adults worried that everyone’s going to get upset about something and trying to prevent that.while they think they are well intentioned it’s claimed by the authors of the article this is not the best way to handle it and I agree with them.

    I’m totally fine if someone wants to avoid the subject completely. I am NOT fine with them using their personal agenda/issues to get teachers fired or to have complete topics be avoided in a classroom. As you said, it’s an individual decision so the person who may have issues with the subject matter should be allowed to not attend that day or handle the topic differently on their own. Now, if you’ve got a class of 200 law students I cannot imagine all 200 law students have a problem discussingcriminal cases. Key word is criminal and it will most likely get ugly at times. Trying to alter words used in a law class for fear of offending somebody is what I disagree with. Not sure why these kids would be lawyers if they can’t handle some of the topics. There are going to be times you have to learn criminal law and it’s not pretty.

  19. Warren August 17, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    How is this going to work when these snowflakes graduate and enter the real world? That is the rub. It starts in college, then these graduates enter the working world. Once there they push for and or are in power to make the working world environment the same sanitized experience that they enjoyed at school.

    We are already seeing this in the working world. Kids that grew up with parents and schools telling them they didn’t have to do things because it was raining, or too hot, or too cold and so on. More than a couple of times I have had young people refuse to work due to it being too hot or too cold and yes because it was raining too hard. Then they get all upset when they find their butts out of a job.

    As for their time in college. Trigger warnings are one thing, having the option to opt out of that material is not acceptable. You either study all the material, or you don’t get credit as far as I am concerned.

    Students of the world. You are adults attempting to acquire a higher education. And in most cases with some help from the taxpayer. Suck it up, that’s life.

  20. Maggie August 17, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    As a homeschooler, I find this a bit ridiculous. One of the questions people frequently ask “How will your kids adjust in the REAL WORLD?” From what I’m seeing, they will adjust better than kids who have been helicoptered and protected and coddled and see every new or different idea or opinion as a threat.

    Micro-aggressions? Really? Go to a job interview and the interviewer will ask tough, and occasionally probing and uncomfortable questions. IF you get hired, you will be expected to conform to company policies, and get along with people from vastly different backgrounds, ages, and beliefs. Your opinion may be questioned publicly in a meeting before your peers.

  21. Michael Blackwood August 17, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    These kids will grow up and work for the kids raised by normal parents. Immigrant children will grow up and dominate America. I see them in the libraries in the afternoons and weekends working with academics with their grandparents. They are not being coddled. They are being raised to be productive citizens in their parents adoptive country. These kids are as American as apple pie. That is one reason I’m not worried about the future of our country. We have a generation being raised that will do just fine. By the way, my grandchildren (9&5) are free range all the way. They will be fine as well.

  22. Doug August 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    As to the reason why “Warning: the following movie contains pictures of aborted fetus’ body parts” is considered the same as “Warning: your preconceived notions about political ideas will be challenged” is because in certain peoples’ minds, both those things carry equal moral weight.

    That’s part of “post-modernism.” There’s no such thing as a universal truth, and morals/ethics/values are no more than social constructs, therefore we can reconstruct society. There is no inheirent value in life, because values are only something we construct out of thin air.

    Your political viewpoint carries the same moral weight as mine, so as long as you bring another person to shout me down, you win the moral debate. Interestingly, it doesn’t actually mean more people agree with me than you, it’s about you shouting down the opposition. Ten people talking can be drowned out by one person being an obnoxious boor.

    Politeness and decorum are based on values, and if all values are equal, then by insisting on taking your turn at the water fountain you are morally the same as the segragationists who put up the “Whites Only” signs.

    How much would you like to bet that crazy Facebook-shaming stalker guy Carl Paz needs trigger warnings and safe-spaces? He’s the same type of person as the “this discussion is challenging my deep-seated beliefs and I needs a safe-space with plush toys” college girl.

    If I could invent medicine to help those people, I’d be rich. But reality is relatively free. Side effects may occur.

  23. MichaelF August 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    I saw you write ” Our society sees every “micro” as “marco.” ” and thought you meant macro but then thought it was a subliminal funny where our country has really become lost; like someone playing macro polo and needing to find the other players with their eyes closed. Just as we seem to fall further and further into a place where we continually close our eyes and stumble around to find our way. Though that game would probably be restricted soon since it would probably be seen as micro-aggressive to someone who is sight challenged.

  24. Gary August 17, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    The only trigger warning my kids will ever need…

    Keep your booger hooker off the bang switch until it’s time.

  25. Diana Green August 17, 2015 at 12:33 pm #

    How will future generations defend our country if we are rearing a nation of moral and physical cowards?

    Molly-coddled kids grow into hot-house flower adults.

  26. WLB August 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    Thank you for the link. I intend to read it when I have more time this afternoon.

    What does NOT help is that many colleges enable this phenomenon. Check out this parent handbook from one private college. http://www.smcm.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/parents-handbook-2015-2016.pdf

    You only need to scroll down to the second page to see the ridiculousness—referring to legally independent adults as “children” and using a toddler metaphor are the tip of the iceberg. (And be careful of that iceberg. Your college-child could slip or fall or crash the Titanic into it).

    If you can stomach more, head to page 3, where going to college is called “a tremendously important developmental step toward adulthood.” What the what???? It *IS* adulthood!!!!!

    I am convinced to the hilt that college attrition rates would look better if we started to treat these students as the ADULTS that they truly are. (The dorms are the worst. Don’t get me started . . . ) What made us a country of productive lumberjacks and business owners was largely the process of teaching our youth a trade, (through apprenticeships or, much less commonly, a college education), and taking them seriously in the process.

    Treat young adults like children, and treat the dorm experience like scout camp, and they will act like children. (“Ooooooooooo! Mom and Dad aren’t looking. I can get trashed now . . . “)

    Lenore and blog followers, if you haven’t already, please read this: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escaping-the-endless-adolescence-joseph-allen/1100293957?ean=9780345507891

  27. JP Merzetti August 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    The pampered and the coddled can’t handle adversity.
    The militarily industrialized police-incarcinogenic state certainly can.
    Guess who controls whom?
    Aye, a luvly bit of fluff to start a bright Monday mornin’ with!
    Fluff.
    Let’s re-make the world soft and pink and pretty. Disneyfied delusional dizziness.
    Eek a shadow. Kill it with light.

    But seriously, would a young adult (re-emphasis on the 2nd word) be overcome with existential dread by reading a touch of Henry Miller, mixed liberally with Camus, Tolstoy and GB Shaw, throw in some nasty Jerzy Kozinski and what the hell, blow the whole damned thing up with some nice rousing Kurt Vonnegut (the ‘guts’ of the matter.)
    Or should we not just go nutso bonfire of the vanities and Nazi-fire up the whole mess? Toast pink marshmallows and be done with it?
    But then the fragile tender beauties would all be laughed off the map by the rest of the real world, now, wouldn’t they? (The horrid bullies!)
    Look out kid – they keep it all hid.
    I was a kid when I first heard that. I sat up and paid attention. I’ve been doing so, ever since.

    I’m not at all surprised that we’re now finding out what happened to the bubble-wrapped lost generations.
    But thank heaven that in my little university, bold young titans are still capable of striding fearlessly into their present and future lifetimes, boldly shedding this nonsense as they go.
    Read it and weep, laugh, rage, absorb, as they say. Fear and loathing haunts the bookshelves.
    What used to be referred to as a good education.
    Open minds and free spirits.

    While out there, the Real world waits – with bucketed ice water and riot hoses, wakeup calls and war zones all over the place. Not for the timid. This here is the real paradise. Not necessarily Milton’s muse.
    Lions and lambs still eye each other with natural intent, and thus it ever was.

    Squeamish virtue? Oh please. Something rather tough prevents us (so far) from treading the dinosaurs’ certain path. Hardly the physicality of it, but far more the mentality of it.
    What the hell happens to human pride and dignity when it is stripped down to psychological crash helmuts and knee pads?
    Even babies themselves, show more mettle than that!
    Much as we hate to admit it – the safety of the womb is gone – once we’re born.
    Risk….that helplessly hopeless four-letter word, embraced a billion-fold through a well-lived, hearty and robust life. Kicked like a football, swatted like a tennis ball, tossed like a basketball, charged like an irritated rhino, yawped at like a rowdy Whitman…….and so it goes.

    Shall we all now retire and take tea in the rubber room? And dither sweet nothings politely in perfect political correctness that accomplishes nothing, produces nothing, never left and never arrives. While good brains park themselves in bell jars and admiration is shared by all for pink and powdered……..fluff.

    egad.

  28. Alanna August 17, 2015 at 12:43 pm #

    I’ve tried to raise my child free range. I feel like the person who has fought me the hardest has been my own child. Yesterday she told me it seemed like I just didn’t care. She talked about something that happened about eight years ago. I sent her to Girl Scout Camp. She was gone for about twelve days. She said the fact that I didn’t send her a care package meant I didn’t care. It was not so long ago that I worked as a camp counselor myself. Kids did not get care packages when going away to camp for two weeks or even for a month. When a kid was gone for only twelve days, it was assumed the kid did not need a care package, but there is now a company that runs a business sending care packages to kids at camp, and some parent have fallen for the idea that kids have to have this!

  29. BL August 17, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Also worth listening to (if a bit lengthy) is John Taylor Gatto’s talk on “The Paradox of Extended Childhood”:

    https://vimeo.com/67510537

  30. Mandy August 17, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    James and Mushroom:

    No one, including the two authors, is saying that no professor should ever be allowed to use trigger warnings if the professor thinks it’s a good idea. Institutional encouragement of their use, however, is a completely different animal. Professors and instructors are already seeing trouble from their students who are coming to EXPECT the use of trigger warnings on course materials and syllabi, and not even the most sensitive and empathetic instructor is going to be able to predict everything that will hit on one of her student’s mental sore spots. It puts instructors in an impossible situation.

    But there’s another, perhaps more important dimension to the problem: trigger warnings don’t actually help, and may actually harm, the people they purport to be assisting. The founder of the Trauma Studies psychiatry program at Kings College London, Dr. Metin Basoglu, strongly discourages their use, because avoidance of psychological triggers for people who actually have them will, the vast majority of the time, make the problem worse. Instead, Basoglu advocates exposure therapy, which gently re-teaches the mind that the trigger is not something to be feared. In either case, the college classroom is not a therapist’s office. If your PTSD is actually so bad that the material in your college classes leaves you in real danger, you should probably consider postponing your education until after you heal. It’s unwise to try to climb a mountain with a broken leg; college should be the mental equivalent of climbing a mountain.

    Aside from that, the list of potential PTSD triggers is literally infinite. They are rarely predictable and often not politically correct. They can be sights, sounds, smells, textures, anything. Soldiers have come back from Iraq with triggers like orange juice and the color white, while being able to watch war movies with no problems. And can you imagine trying to explain to your ultra-progressive peers – usually the students at the forefront of this movement – that one of your triggers is tall black men?

    If you look at the students leading the trigger warning push, they are rarely actual sufferers of PTSD. The most charitable interpretation of their actions is that they are sensitive kids who misguidedly think they are helping their friends. A more cynical soul might say they’re trying to score points in the one-up battle on many college campuses to be the most progressive social justice crusader out there.

    Use of any kind of warnings in class should be a decision for each individual professor to make. But the people pushing for them as a policy or requrement should at least know what experts have to say on them, and be honest about what their motives are.

  31. Nadine August 17, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    But nothing about the workers in some asian factory that are making those cheap as dung crayons day in and out.

  32. Brent August 17, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    It’s so hard to be against infant helmets when you publish an image that is so darn adorable.

  33. SanityAnyone? August 17, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    Absolutely nauseating. They will not be prepared to deal with any real relationships from their spouse and kids to geopolitics. Just stupid.

    As part of my good parenting, I try to sprinkle my communication with the darlings (6, 10, 12) with phrases like “no, you can’t have a cell phone even though everyone else has one”, “get over yourself”, “you’re no more special than anyone else” (slight fabrication in my eyes), “deal with it”, “work it out in another room and come back when you two are happy”, “you have to taste everything”, “that’s rude”, “go away, I can’t stand any more of your noise right now”, “you caused the problem, you fix the problem”, “talk to your teacher yourself”, “not everyone in your life is going to be nice”, “sometimes you’ll have to deal with a terrible teacher and still succeed” and other minor skin-toughening concepts. So far they seem to be secure, lovable, loving and resilient people.

    Without a trigger warning, we listened to “The Summer of My German Soldier” recorded book which deals with a lot of difficult race issues, and then watched a marathon of Mel Brooks movies which make fun of every stereotype there is, including some that apply to us. All I said was “realize the humor comes from how wrong and ridiculous it is, not how true it is”. I see this material as character and intellect building, especially if we take the time to talk it over.

  34. Liz August 17, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    I’m finishing my BA and I took a feminism course titled “Sex and the City.” Every single lecture had a “trigger warning” that the content was “sexual in nature and not suitable for every person.” YOU TAKE THE COURSE WITH THE TITLE AND YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE CONTENT?!
    Way too far. God forbid you talk about sex in a course about the tv show Sex and the City. Oh no, you need to be warned, and coddled and sheltered.

  35. JulieC August 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

    The following note appeared in the UCLA Daily Bruin ahead of an article about why tampons should be provided free to women. This just cracks me up. It may not technically be a trigger warning, but it sure as heck highlights the mindset:

    Editor’s note: This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

  36. John August 17, 2015 at 1:33 pm #

    Quote from this article: “This is also the generation that grew up getting trophies for 8th place. My son got one, on a league with nine teams. With that trophy came the same message: Kids, you are too fragile to handle the micro-misery of losing.”

    Quote from James Harrison, Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers: “I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”

    I’m just wondering when Child Protective Services will be called on James Harrison for the emotional abuse of his children.

    I don’t have numbers in front of me but it seems as if most Americans agree with James Harrison, at least according to the blogs. It also seems as if most Americans, at least according to what I read on the blogs, are fed up with political correctness run amok in this country, especially what we’re seeing on college campuses. I know that Jerry Seinfeld sure is to the point that he will no longer perform on college campuses!

    But while most Americans grow tired of this nonsense, why do we still allow it to go on?? Is it a small vocal minority shouting down the majority? Is it the reality of “he who squeaks loudest gets heard”? Most college professors are paid by tax payers’ dollars if it’s a state run institution and even if it’s a private university, unless your son or daughter is on scholarship, their tuition is usually paid for by the parents. So if we don’t like this, don’t we as tax payers and/or tuition providers, have some leverage in the matter? James Harrison took a stand and perhaps change will occur as a result of that but what about us non-celebrities?

    I’m just sick and tired of our kids being sissified by schools and American society in general!!!

  37. Diana Green August 17, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    We’ve always let the immigrants do our dirty work. That’s why it’s counterproductive to exclude them and their children. Who will fight our wars? Who will collect the trash, and clean the toilets, and pick the apples? And teach our children, for that matter.

    Not the progeny of Mayflower first families. With so many of us researching our family trees to prove our descent from kings and barons, it is no wonder that the next generation of American royals is wrapped in swaddling clothes until dropped off at Harvard or Princeton.

    Their parents were raised like that, too. You would have to go back to the “Bridge Generation”, those of us born during the Great Depression and just prior to the Second World War, to find an entire generation of kids raised on benign neglect. Because times were tough and no one had five minutes to waste on a kid whose behavior was nor age appropriate.

    Almost all our mothers worked. And we took care of ourselves. And we lived and thrived.I’m not talking about the Upper crust, just the middle class, but most people I grew up with did have deep roots in this country. They weren’t snotty about it. Hard times had a leveling effect.

    So, I’m wondering how much affluence has to do with those poor little rich kids being so over protected?

  38. Librarymomma August 17, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    The chicken fingers are worse for the kids than the crayons! (Sorry, I’m a vegan; I couldn’t resist.).

    A coworker related a story to me about something that offended another employee. One employee asked another employee about the origin of the person’s first name. The employee imagined his coworker was saying something negative about this person’s ethnic background. I don’t know exactly how the question was couched or the tone used when it was asked, but this seems like the kind of question that is now being considered insensitive, which is a shame because we ask questions like that of each other usually out of a sense of innocent curiosity, and without those questions, we’ll never have the chance to learn about other people.

  39. Havva August 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    I was actually involved in a Facebook conversation where a mocking of ‘trigger warnings’ with the “I’m offended by this potato” meme picture was being oddly re-interpreted as a micro (or perhaps macro) aggression against the black lives matter movement. I tried explaining the arguments against the trigger warnings much as @Mandy did, and left them thoroughly befuddled by the fact that my one big trigger is a certain moderately common brand of candy.

  40. Beth August 17, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    @Nadine, neither the source article or Lenore’s commentary had anything to do with cheap crayons; they were mentioned passing as an example. Neither author was required to write about Asian labor as it has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. It probably doesn’t mean they are all pro-cheap labor.

  41. Diana Green August 17, 2015 at 2:19 pm #

    Is helicoptering just a fad? Monkey see–monkey do?

    Started in about 1950 with television. “Father Knows Best”. “Ozzie and Harriet”. Mom in high heels and pearls. Daddy in a suit and neck tie. Not the real world. But the kids were perfect, and shrink-wrapped. The kids were not equipped for the real world.

  42. Kenny Felder August 17, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    I think the article is fantastic and I hope a whole lot of people read it. I just have one complaint, and I’m sorry to focus on the complaint when so much about the article is good, but I do think the authors work against their own cause when they help spread the following myth: “The surge in crime from the ’60s through the early ’90s made Baby Boomer parents more protective than their own parents had been.” Fact: crime consistently went DOWN during that period and has continued to do so. What “surged” is media coverage, lawsuits, and paranoia.

    Other than that, great article, and thanks as always for sharing it.

  43. Beth August 17, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    I don’t think any 1950’s/1960’s TV portrayed helicopter parenting at all! The kids weren’t driven everywhere, they got themselves to school and back, they played pickup games, and were allowed to run around town exploring, playing, and meeting up with other kids, as long as they were home for dinner.

  44. Suanne Laqueur August 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    If your child can’t deal when their toast is burning, what are they going to do when the house is on fire?

  45. EricS August 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    @BL: “I want trigger warnings for anything containing the word “microaggression”.” That would be awesome. lol Make a conundrum of the situation. Force these “educators” to actually use some common sense and reason. After all NO ONE should ever feel “triggered”.

    As much as I love the study. Facts just seem to resonate with people. It’s their fears that guide them. No matter how far fetched and almost impossible, they will believe what they believe over any facts, stats, and real-life testimonials from others. Part of the solution needs to be that there should be nothing the perpetuates, encourages, and manipulates people into fearing something that is remote, and does our children no good. It’s not impossible. It’s been the way things were before the last 20-30 years.

  46. Andre L. August 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    I think some commentators didn’t read the whole article on The Altantic.

    [b]THE[/b] major problem with Trigger Warnings on college campuses is not that they convey some extra information about a course or seminar. If it were only that, I’d totally agree with the assertion “more information is better than less”, which is my usual stance in favor of ample food labeling, for instance.

    Instead, the major problems is the expectation of Trigger Warnings for virtually anything that is slightly upsetting, confrontational or unsettling. This expectation leads to self-censorship a vicious cycle operate like this:

    1. course is mandatory within a program/faculty/department
    2. professor might or might not discuss some touchy subject or engage in some lively discussion that might bring up “triggering” issues
    3. if the professor puts an ample, all-encompassing trigger warning, students will request all sorts of accommodation/alternatives, making the course administration a nightmare
    4. if the professor doesn’t put an ample warning, then it needs to pre-define what he/she might or might not talk about, which audiovisual materials might or might not be presented, and if there is some deviation, the professor will be called out
    5. admins and deans start “suggesting” professors to reduce controversy in their courses, as to have to deal with less complaints

    All but the most senior professors end up toning down some aspects of their course because it is just not worth the hassle.

    —————-

    In a broader sense, I see an underlying larger problem: a societal environment for young adults (without serious live-in relationships and kids to deal with) where having some mental dysfunction or psychological condition becomes a source of your identity. I’m not dismissing the conditions that are triggered, or the illnesses, but I do believe that somehow in the process of better understanding the human psyche and treating people adequately, something about being “proud of who you are” got conflated with using mental diseases as badges of honor, the sort of thing that gives you social capital with peers the same way military medals or sport trophies do elsewhere.

    In that context, treating the underlying condition (post-traumatic stress disorder, for instance) becomes de-coupled of a process of validating oneself by demanding and getting behavioral changes or acknowledgment from third parties, which is what the epidemic of trigger warning demands ultimately are.

    The most extreme cases of trigger warnings are almost laughable: classism or elitism. I get that growing up being the poor kid in a middle class school is taxing and not always fun, but if someone will have a serious mental breakdown when attending a class that discuss wine, private jets or rich CEOs, then such person needs serious mental health treatment.

    My personal criteria is that academic trigger warnings would still be warranted if the content would be (a) unrelated to the core expectations of the program and (b) shocking or heavily upsetting for the general contemporary society. So I’m okay with a trigger warning about a video that portrays up-close a serious was scene with dead bodies around in a geography class, I’m not okay with taming law instruction because the crimes might be triggering.

  47. Diana Green August 17, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks for the link. Stacey. The Marine nailed it. Anyone who can’t top his experience with the issue, might oughta just shut up.

  48. Christopher Byrne August 17, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

    Here is my all-purpose TW. Warning: This piece of literature describes a wide range of human behavior. Some of it isn’t pretty. Some of it is mean. Some of it will scare you. Some of it will make you laugh or cry or understand your nature better. Some of it might even make you think for yourself and formulate independent feelings about the world. If bad things have happened to you, you may find some comfort. If only good things have happened to you, you may find some compassion. Either way, life is kinda messy. And you deserve the whole range of human emotions to understand your fellow man. (I mean “of mankind.”) And aren’t you lucky that Mr. Dickens and Mr, Shakespeare and Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Bronte and Ms. Wilkerson have laid it all out for you so you can have the emotional experience vicariously? You’re lucky. Now finish the required reading.

  49. Christopher Byrne August 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

    Oh, and by the way, my mother read my brothers and me “Oliver Twist” as a bedtime story. Go read the death of Nancy sometime, if you want a real grisly tale.

  50. Jim Collins August 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    WLB,
    I read some of that manual that you linked to. I think that the use of the words “child”, “parent” and parents is more on the basis of their being politically correct, than age based. These terms are “safe” to use because they don’t define a gender, race, sexual orientation or religion.

  51. Kimberly August 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    And let’s not forget the rewriting of classic American literature. I’m still offended that a publishing house has re-issued “Huckleberry Finn” with the *N* word replaced by a “less offensive” word. I don’t care what the argument in favor of that change is. No matter how you slice it, that version completely changes the intention, the tone, the subject of that book.

    The people who support that change are probably now foaming at the mouth with the release of “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee.

    Despite my age, I graduated with my BS not too long ago. It was my experience that most, if not all, of my professors usually let us know if something we were going to read or watch might be upsetting or disturbing. My History of Cinema teacher “warned” us before we watched “Birth of a Nation”. My Critical Issues in Justice Studies professor did the same thing — though his was more of a blanket warning on the first day. He didn’t believe in using textbooks and instead his required reading list was usually a half-dozen books written by journalists and / biographies and auto-biographies. Almost every book dealt with first hand accounts of genocide in one form or another.

    You want disturbing? Try reading a mother’s recollection of listening to her children’s screams as her entire village was murdered by soldiers.

    I have no doubt that I have a slanted view of the world and my place in it. I also think that, if I were to reflect on my past in a different light, I would be a trigger warning’s best friend. If I were to place myself in the role of a victim, then I would have been bullied in school, sexually assaulted more times than I could count, and I’m sure a therapist wouldn’t hesitate to diagnose me with some sort of depressive disorder related to my cancer diagnosis and treatment.

    For me personally, victimization is a state of mind that I refuse to tolerate within myself. By no means am I saying that I am above feeling victimized or that anyone who feels like they’ve been victimized are in some way weak when compared to me. I just hate the connotation that the word “victim” carries mainly because I think it has been so overused that it takes away from the full weight of the word itself.

    Bullying wasn’t a word that was bandied about when I was a kid the way it is now. Even my “sexual assaults” were the result of too much alcohol, hormones, and poor judgment.

    It’s my own personal belief, and I’m sure others will disagree, that with societies acceptance that bad things happen to good people through no fault of their own, we have swung too far and have created a society that has accepted this notion that it’s okay for people to define themselves by their victimization.

  52. FRM August 17, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Two thoughts on this: I went to a conference where there was a presentation on safety in playgrounds. The grad students running the experiment made the playground 100% safe and guess what happened? The kids REFUSED to play on it! Perhaps we are all turning into internet addicts because everything else in life is safety obsessed and therefore so dull we need to turn our attentions elsewhere to feel any exiliration. Second, I noticed that societal norms have changed so much that a scene from a tv show that aired in the nineties showed a guy fall some 30 ft into a hole, and the only thing anyone said was: “you okay buddy?” Ha! If the same thing happened now, people would be horrified and either running immediately to help, get help or calling lawyers to find out who is liable!

  53. Emily August 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    @Warren–one small nitpick: I’m not sure that all kids “enjoy” living a sanitized existence. I was born in 1984, so I think my generation was one of change; of seeing the Free-Range culture give way to paranoia, partly because of the hype around O.J. Simpson and Carla Holmolka, but I think that made adults hyper-vigilant about other things too. I saw the demise of metal slides and piggyback rides, of cartwheels and tree climbing and swinging two to a swing (facing one another, “spider style”) as legitimate playground activities. I experienced “scary stories around the fire” at summer camp give way to “tales of morality and character around the fire.” I was sad to see all of those things go (although I missed cartwheels vicariously, because I learned to do those as an adult). Just today, I read an article in the Globe and Mail about how kids might like playing outside better if they had virtual-reality glasses to make the local baseball diamond look like Fenway Park, and I think that’s completely wrong–just let kids out to play without hovering, and put back the playground equipment that’s challenging enough to be fun for school-aged kids. I don’t think kids enjoy being micromanaged and protected at all.

  54. Emily August 17, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    P.S., Warren, on a lighter note, if Hank Hill was real, I could see you two being good friends.

  55. John August 17, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Great link Stacy! I bookmarked it!

  56. Sarah August 17, 2015 at 4:54 pm #

    Eh – in regards to the microaggressions, I think its more a misunderstanding of the term. To put it in a free-range terminology, a microaggression would be every time you see the overblown stranger-danger hyper-scare tactics. Its a small thing individually that adds up to make things generally more unpleasant for you. Hence “micro” aggression. And the “where are you from” microaggression isn’t usually the first question. Its the “no, where are you *really* from” question that follows, as though for some reason someone can’t be from Philadelphia if they are asian.

  57. William L. Anderson August 17, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    Lenore, there is also another reason for this hypersensitivity: the advent of the Mondale Act of 1974 (acronym of CAPTA) and the establishment of Child Protective Services. This law and its advocates in the media and in government inundated Americans with the false notion that their children were being molested and kidnapped in unbelievable numbers.

    Remember the kids’ faces on milk cartons in the early 1980s? The false allegations of mass child molestation made popular by people like Janet Reno (who built her prosecutorial career on making false charges of child molestation against innocent people), and the constant drumbeat from the media that our kids faced constant danger has taken its toll. (It didn’t help that the local and state governments that were the most aggressive in pushing these falsehoods also received millions of dollars in federal money for their efforts, so governments became addicted to the money and the means of receiving it.)

    Yet, if one person (Walter Mondale) could help launch the mass hysteria, we also know that one person who does not back down (Lenore Skenazy) has been able to challenge what seemed to be impossible to challenge.

  58. Samwise August 17, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    The biggest problem with trigger warnings is that there is no way to know what can trigger someone, and I will use both myself and my husband as an example.

    My husband is a veteran who suffers from PTSD. He is triggered by a whole host of things; loud noises, crowded spaces, not being able to clearly see the exit to a room, a room not having two exits, people talking about medical or forensic related subjects (as he had to document bombing victims he gets very sensitive to any in depth discussion about anatomy and physiology.)

    I have a history of OCD and anorexia. I can get triggered by any conversation regarding food or weight or exercise. There are other things too, but numbers are also very triggering for me. I used to obsess over numbers in terms of calories eaten and burned, miles run on a treadmill, the number of corn kernels I had just eaten, etc. Because of this, any discussion of numbers at all could get me thinking about numbers as they relate to my eating and exercise.

    We both went to college while we were still quite ill and dealing with these issues, but it was before trigger warnings were even a concept. So we were forced to develop coping mechanisms for dealing with triggers we would regularly encounter in our day to day lives. Every once in awhile we couldn’t deal, and had to excuse ourselves from a situation. Still, at the end of the day, neither of us expected the world to cater to our neuroses, and instead we forced ourselves to learn to deal with the reality of existence. Years later, neither of us are 100% “better,” but we are well adjusted and are rarely triggered, despite being constantly exposed to things that used to trigger us regularly.

    The fact is literally anything in the world can be triggering to someone depending on their experiences and illnesses, it isn’t just obvious stuff like rape. Numbers are often a trigger for people with OCD and/or eating disorders, should every use of math or statistics come with a trigger warning?

    I just don’t think it does anyone any good to seek to cater to our weaknesses and to coddle and isolate is from things that may disturb us. instead, those affected need to try and learn how to deal with trauma or mental illness in a way that doesn’t include denying reality.

    I have a close friend who was kidnapped and raped. This was of course a terrible experience that will always stay with her, but she was determined to not let it inhibit her or change her behavior. She still dates, still has an active social life, is able to watch or read stories of rape or kidnapping. Occasionally she does have to hard a time with things, and needs some space and understanding, but for the most part she is able to cope well and deal with life. Another acquaince of mine had her purse snatched once, no physical attack was involved. She is completely crippled by the experience and relates it as being a deep, unsurpassable psychological trauma that makes her incapable of dealing with a vast array of social situations or experiences. I know which of these two people I would rather be.

    I simply do not respect the idea that someone who has gone through a hardship or trauma should be treated as forever ruined and incapable of overcoming obstacles. That is not a judgement on people who are profoundly traumatized and who can’t recover despite their best efforts, it is a judgement on those who assume that should be treated as the status quo and for the world to cater to that ideal.

  59. EricS August 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Whenever I think of these types of kids, I picture them all holding their hands to their ears, repeating “la la la la la la la la la”. You know the types growing up. Didn’t want to hear or deal with what is actually being said or done. lol

    In a way, this might be a great way of weeding out the weak. My kids will be the boss of these kids. 😉 Can’t lead if you don’t know how to be a leader. Can’t be a leader if one has never learned to overcome adversity, in many forms. And no way anyone who’s learned to be these overly sensitive young adults, will ever be effective “leaders”. Or successful adults for that matter.

  60. EricS August 17, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    @samwise: I believe there is a difference between actual trauma as you and your husband have gone through, and that of those who have learned (most likely from parents) from the day they are born, that they are never or should ever be allowed to feel disappointment in any manner. From a very early age, they are conditioned to feel that they are “special”, and that everything should be catered to their desires, and what makes them feel better about themselves. I think this is the situation that is happening with these College kids. They aren’t traumatized, but they have become mentally and emotionally fragile. Insecure. And many have realized how easy it is to pressure authorities to cater to their needs. And how authority is so easily put into fear mode, that they comply. It’s a perpetual problem, of a non-issue made into a big issue.

  61. Papilio August 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    I get tired just reading that article…

    I guess foreign newspapers should also come with trigger warnings (in English), as some Americans now seem outraged that (hmm, I’m not sure) either a) the 96% of the world population that isn’t American doesn’t have the exact same taboos, associations, American cultural knowledge et cetera as they do, or b) the editors of the newspapers in those non-American countries don’t carefully consider their American non-readership before using a direct quote from a book as the headline for the review of said book.

  62. Papilio August 17, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Oh – Lenore, I know it’s old (2013), but have you ever seen this (funny!) anti-rape vid?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hC0Ng_ajpY

  63. Emily August 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    About the topic at hand, I’m glad we’re discussing it, because my experience of university was nothing like this. Profs swore sometimes, people drew nude models in art classes, I was in The Vagina Monologues my second year (doing the monologue about gang-rape, no less), and microggressions weren’t a thing yet, but healthy debate certainly was. I’m just thinking, what would a completely “safe” university experience look like? First off, it’d have to be completely online, because in-person universities are where the parties are, and when young adults get together, they can get drunk and hurt themselves…..or, stay sober and accidentally offend someone by asking where they’re from. Second, it’d have to be all math and science courses, because those courses only have right and wrong answers, with no room for debate. I sure wouldn’t want to go to a school like that, because one big difference I found between high school and university was the absence of the “net nanny.” Now, it’s all well and good to prevent high school students from looking at pornography, but it’s a problem when the “net nanny” also blocks out works of great art, like the Sistine Chapel, and Michelangelo’s David. Ironically, I saw both on a trip to Italy with my high school band in grade eleven, but the school wouldn’t let us view then online. I found this to be ridiculous and infantilizing then, so universities shouldn’t try to put a “net nanny” on life.

    As for eighth-place trophies, I agree that those shouldn’t exist. I can see doing souvenirs/mementoes for everyone (photos, T-shirts, hats, whatever), but the trophies should just be for the people whi earned them. Yes, that can include the most improved player, and the most sportsmanlike player, along with the MVP, but identical trophies for everyone, presented as “awards,” send the wrong message. I don’t think kids should be forced to play sports (aside from swimming lessons, but that’s a safety thing), but for the kids who want to play, learning to win and lose graciously is part of the experience.

  64. Donald August 17, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

    I loved this part of the article so much that I want to repeat it.


    A person who is trapped in an elevator during a power outage may panic and think she is going to die. That frightening experience can change neural connections in her amygdala, leading to an elevator phobia. If you want this woman to retain her fear for life, you should help her avoid elevators.

    Anxiety is a never ending spiral about avoid. Therefore trying to treat anxiety by helping the patient to avoid is like trying to cure a rash by scratching it off!

  65. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    “the major problems is the expectation of Trigger Warnings for virtually anything that is slightly upsetting, confrontational or unsettling. This expectation leads to self-censorship a vicious cycle operate like this:”

    The tendency to self-censor is going to be higher without “trigger warnings”. For example, for several decades, broadcast TV had no “trigger warning” type disclaimers. So everything was bland and not even vaguely controversial. Network S&P was WAY more restrictive.

  66. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    “As for eighth-place trophies, I agree that those shouldn’t exist. I can see doing souvenirs/mementoes for everyone (photos, T-shirts, hats, whatever), but the trophies should just be for the people whi earned them. Yes, that can include the most improved player, and the most sportsmanlike player, along with the MVP, but identical trophies for everyone, presented as “awards,” send the wrong message. ”

    Depends on what your purpose was. If the goal was to get kids off their butts and engaging in physical exercise instead, then participation trophies are appropriate. If your goal is to instill a love of the game (as opposed to a love of winning), participation trophies are appropriate. And yes, everyone gets the same one. Participation trophies aren’t mutually exclusive of other kinds of trophies… and yes, even kids can tell the difference between the trophy you get for showing up, and the trophy you get for winning all the games.

    Even the military has “participation trophies”. Did you finish basic training? You’ve earned a decoration! Were you on active duty during a war? You get a service ribbon, whether you were anywhere near the dangerous parts or not.

  67. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    “it’d have to be all math and science courses, because those courses only have right and wrong answers, with no room for debate.”

    This is true of neither university-level math nor science.

  68. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    “In a way, this might be a great way of weeding out the weak. My kids will be the boss of these kids. Can’t lead if you don’t know how to be a leader. Can’t be a leader if one has never learned to overcome adversity, in many forms. And no way anyone who’s learned to be these overly sensitive young adults, will ever be effective “leaders”. Or successful adults for that matter.”

    The ones who actually need trigger warnings are the ones who actually faced adversity.;

  69. Emily August 17, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    Okay, James, if not even the “left-brained” courses in university are limited to right and wrong answers (I didn’t know, because I didn’t take them), then that actually makes my point even stronger. After all, if there’s no room for debate in a university classroom (because trigger warnings and microaggressions), then how can any learning happen there at all?

  70. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    ” if there’s no room for debate in a university classroom (because trigger warnings and microaggressions)”

    Philosophy has right and wrong answers, and religion.

    The core problem, however, is your premise… it’s backwards.
    The allowance of trigger warnings doesn’t mean you can have fewer debates, can discuss fewer controversial topics, can explore fewer of the fringes of human thought and experience. Quite the opposite. With trigger warnings, you can do MORE of these things.

    If I start out my class with a warning that the content may not be for the easily-disturbed because X, Y, and Z, I may make the assumption that anyone still in the room is OK with a discussion of X, Y, and Z, and may proceed accordingly. This means that my course may contain a discussion of X, Y, and Z that is not limited to what the easily-startled by X, Y, or Z find acceptable. They either got the warning that X, Y, or Z was coming, and vacated, or they’ve forfeited their right to complain that the course contains X, Y, and Z.

  71. WLB August 17, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

    OK, I’ve finally read it. Here’s one part that got me:

    “Jeannie Suk’s New Yorker essay described the difficulties of teaching rape law in the age of trigger warnings. Some students, she wrote, have pressured their professors to avoid teaching the subject in order to protect themselves and their classmates from potential distress.”

    So “my” own feelings about rape are more important than training a new generation of lawyers to go to bat for rape survivors? Has our culture really reached this nadir of narcissism?

    Sorry. That’s not directly related to the mission of this blog, but I had to point it out.

  72. Similo August 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    I’m usually right there with you (despite feeling like you don’t address the real dangers that children in impoverished and crime-stricken areas face) but not on this one. This is just not a result of helicopters.
    As a white woman, Lenore, you are privileged to not have to face the micro-aggressions whose recognition you criticize. It’s not “just PC” to recognize that others have suffered traumas whose impact you can’t understand; it is exercising empathy, courtesy and humility. Asking people to consider others’ feelings, and offer more information to allow people to prepare for reliving trauma is a good thing overall.

  73. ChicagoDad August 17, 2015 at 9:54 pm #

    I think participation awards are just fine for preschoolers and kindergarteners. At that age kids are usually motivated by being involved, learning something new and being told they did a good job. A certificate, ribbon or small plastic trophy for good participation is just fine.

    Between 1st and 3rd grade their motivations change. Kids really start to really see differences in quality of work or accomplishment on the field, and they start to be motivated by achievement rather than participation/acknowledgement. Participation awards undermine the learning process after 2nd grade because they undermine the credibility of the rules, process and accomplishment.

    So, for most kids, I’m for participation awards up to about age 5 or 6, and I’m against them after age 8. Inbetween is a judgement call, depending on the program and the kids.

  74. Similo August 17, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

    @Donald To use your analogy, trigger warnings are not about having said woman avoid elevators. They’re more akin to elevator doors not looking exactly like doors to a stairwell and allowing her to mentally prepare for riding in one, or to avoid if she so chooses. It’s not our job to force people to “get over” their trauma before they’re ready.
    As to other parts of the piece, given the types of ignorant comments made by some of my colleagues back in law school, warning on a crim law syllabus of the day rape law is discussed is completely reasonable. I agree that asking that rape law not be taught is ridiculous, but so is asking that evolution not be taught. I don’t think all Christians are oversensitive because a cohort of them makes ridiculous requests. Neither should the experience of trauma victims be disregarded because one request went too far.

  75. ChicagoDad August 17, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

    I may be soft on participation awards, but I don’t understand the campus coddling of today. My college’s (unofficial) motto was aut fieri fortior aut mori and the college program sought out ways to challenge your sensibilities, often in the most offensive means possible. And I turned out mostly fine….well serviceable at least.

  76. Buffy August 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    I find it pretty hard to believe that reading Twain, or Shakespeare, studying history, or exchanging perfectly normal pleasantries (where are you from? what’s your nationality?) with other people causes the reliving of trauma.

  77. Hush August 17, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

    Try this again.. on the correct post..

    As someone who has suffered from PTSD, I have to say I don’t really need trigger warnings. Yes, I occasionally get triggered, but at this point I occasionally just get lost for an hour or two in my thoughts or have trouble sleeping or write huge long rants in a notepad that I delete the next day.. I get triggered by things related to what happened and by things that are relatively unrelated. Even talks of “sibling relationships” can trigger me. I don’t think that anyone would think something as benign as “sibling relationships” would be a triggering topic, but, for me, it is.

    Someone triggered badly enough to not function properly / feel that unsafe (would she go barricade herself int he bathroom or something? — not teasing or making light, it’s something I’ve done!) after the word “violate” is perhaps just not ready yet for college and needs more intense counseling or more time to process and come to peace.

    I think that part of the issue is the non-acceptance of people freaking a bit out in public and freaking out in private, too… Why are human emotions.. crying, anger, fear, anxiety, obsessive thinking (especially from someone with PTSD all someone needs to say is “I’ve suffering traumas” but that is a bit taboo, itself).. such a problem that someone can’t express them over something that upsets them? Especially if they have PTSD? I’ll tell what I think. I think the majority in this culture do not want to deal with human suffering. In real life, on paper, or online… But over-sanitizing history, college courses, and news etc. is not related, entirely, in my view, to mollycoddling/hover-parenting. It’s also, I think, related to the deeper cultural flaw of people/parents/culture who don’t accept negative feelings for what they are without shaming children/people for having negative emotions or blaming people for having them.. Kids are often hit, shamed, bullied, or otherwise harmed in our culture if they show “defiance” or “irregularity”, and both often mean emotions. No wonder people are trying to avoid emotions..

  78. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    Would the people complaining that the very notion of “trigger warnings” offends them, also be offended because a food product is labeled “may contain peanuts, or was produced using machinery that also processes peanuts”? After all, most people can eat peanuts without any difficulty at all. Anyone can’t should just learn to deal… real life contains peanuts, amirite?

  79. ChicagoDad August 17, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    @James, When US food and agricultural regulators, like the FDA or USDA, require labels for peanuts and peanut dust, it is to caution consumers who might suffer significant harm from ingesting tiny quantities of peanuts. But suppose they required a label on apple juice that says “may contain arsenic”, when arsenic is routinely found in safe levels in fruit juices due to the natural uptake of minerals in the soil. Pretty much all apple juice ever (including organic) has had tiny amounts of arsenic in it. The FDA could require that a laundry list of scary-sounding, but ultimately innocuous-in-small-quantities, minerals be listed on the labels of fruit juices because they are naturally found in fruits grown in ordinary dirt. The result would be fear among consumers, intimidation of fruit growers and juice makers, and an awful mess.

    I’m comfortable with trigger warnings for college courses that are reasonably expected to be disturbing (crime scene forensics, genocide, history and theory of mimes and clowns), just as peanut dust can reasonably be seen as dangerous to a significant number of people. When campuses compel instructors and professors to issue trigger warnings for topics and readings that would ordinarily fall under intellectual debate, discourse and learning, it sends the message that these things are harmful and disturbing in and of themselves; just like the arsenic in apple juice.

  80. Kimberly August 17, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    @ James:

    “They either got the warning that X, Y, or Z was coming, and vacated, or they’ve forfeited their right to complain that the course contains X, Y, and Z.”

    I suggest that you read up on Title IX and how it is being currently implemented on college campuses.

  81. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    “But suppose they required a label on apple juice that says “may contain arsenic”, when arsenic is routinely found in safe levels in fruit juices due to the natural uptake of minerals in the soil.”

    That would be stupid. But also off-topic… nobody’s talking about government requiring anything.

  82. James Pollock August 17, 2015 at 11:10 pm #

    “I suggest that you read up on Title IX and how it is being currently implemented on college campuses.”

    At some point, I’ve mentioned that I kept my job as a college instructor after starting law school, haven’t I?

  83. ChicagoDad August 17, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

    @James, at some point one’s trigger warnings and syllabus will be indistinguishable from one another, especially if it is better to give people more information rather than less.

  84. Kimberly August 17, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    @ James

    Wow, that’s rather narcissistic, don’t you think?

    I mean, you’re a lawyer and a college instructor who knows everything about what it takes to work in those two professions, AND you can retain every comment ever made to each of the blogs posted on this site?

    I am definitely in the presence of an omnipotent being.

  85. Jenny Islander August 18, 2015 at 12:15 am #

    As a beneficiary of trigger warnings, I went around and around about this with some ivy-covered type over at The Mary Sue. How, I asked repeatedly, is a general note “There is a graphic rape scene in the material that has to be read for the October 19 session, please proceed accordingly” limiting anybody in any way? I, the survivor of rape, can choose to use the PTSD coping mechanisms I learned in therapy in order to steel myself to read and discuss it; I can choose to find an abstract summary of that chapter and steel myself to attend a discussion with people who read it unfiltered; I can choose to skip the October 19 session after calculating what that might do to my grade. The professor can be reasonably certain that everybody who is there is ready to discuss the material without having to hear anybody’s personal details. The other students don’t have to deal with somebody having a flashback in front of them while they’re trying to attend class (and I don’t have to scrape myself together after yet another ride on the dissociation slalom). Win-win. But according to the ivy-encrusted person I was talking to, taking 10 minutes to look up “Most common PTSD triggers”* was JUST LIKE forcing un to do therapy for me and having graphic rape scenes thrown in my face completely without warning while I was trying to get stuff done was the world telling me to “Toughen up, buttercup.” “Research,” un snapped. Apparently it was my job to preread every single book for every single course, while somehow magically being 100 percent ready to trip over a trigger on every page, because a short note from somebody who had presumably already read them was such an awful burden to bear and the end of higher education and whatever.

    For that matter, how is “Content note: The works in this course were written in an atmosphere in which casual, blatant racism toward African-Americans was the norm; you have been forewarned” not a good idea? The “But HOW did people in the ROMANTIC OLDEN DAYS talk like THAT oh SHOCK HORROR” types can be shut down with, “That was covered in the syllabus; let’s go on please.”

    *Just like warnings for common allergens, warnings for common PTSD triggers won’t help the people who have uncommon ones, but they will help a lot of people.

  86. Warren August 18, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    How about colleges just have one trigger warning on their applications.

    You are applying at an institution of higher learning. Your opinions, feelings, logic and sensitivities will be challenged. If for whatever you cannot handle this, stay home and let those that can, do.

  87. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 12:29 am #

    “Wow, that’s rather narcissistic, don’t you think?”

    Pointing out, in response to your suggestion that I might want to read Title IX, and familiarize myself with how it’s implemented on college campuses, that I have more than a passing familiarity with both, is “narcissistic”? Are you lamenting the dismissive tone you decided to take?

    “I mean, you’re a lawyer”
    Not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV.

    “I am definitely in the presence of an omnipotent being.”
    Well, yes, but… I only claim “minor deity”. Got the business cards, but they wouldn’t let me put it on the door. Academics have a sense of humor, but administrators do not.

    “at some point one’s trigger warnings and syllabus will be indistinguishable from one another”
    I fail to see the problem with this; the syllabus should reflect what’s in the course.

  88. Lihtox August 18, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    Sarah is right about microaggressions, I think, and very nicely brings it into a free-range context! In isolation they are trivial, and you can’t call someone out over one without looking like an over-reacting jerk. But they add up. Think about those parents who aren’t comfortable hiring male babysitters, parents who act nervous if a man shows up at a playground, or busybodies who give you the evil eye if you leave your kids in the car for a minute.

    The term’s a little weird, granted—aggression sounds intentional and microaggressions needn’t be—but the concept comes up around here all the time.

  89. Madeline August 18, 2015 at 12:38 am #

    As someone who has actually had an innocent remark trigger a violent emotional response to past trauma, I absolutely loathe the idea that you can warn for them.

    The idea that a rape victim may be upset by a rape scene is not a trigger, that is common freaking sense. Triggers are things that only make sense in context.

    A rape victim triggered by the smell of chlorine because she was raped in a pool, a veteran of Afghanistan who can’t leave his house on trash day because the Taliban hid IEDs in bags of trash, a woman who becomes hysterical at the smell of Fruit Loops because that’s what she was eating when her father dropped dead of a brain aneurysm right in front of her. . . . those are triggers. You can’t put warnings on those because they make no sense out of context.

    My own personal trigger came out of a line from Thor 2, where Loki asks for his dagger. I’m not going to go into the particular trauma but it had nothing to do with daggers or cutting or stabbing. I very nearly threw my TV out of the window. I could never have imagined I would react to that line with such violent rage but I did. And you know what? I still love that movie. I still watch it. Because one of the treatments for past trauma is exposure therapy. You get to what upsets you, realize the world didn’t end and you handle it a little better next time.

  90. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 1:13 am #

    It’s not that complicated. Decent people avoid harming other people. Polite people avoid offending other people. College campuses are not always full of decent, polite people… but it’s a goal.

  91. Kimberly August 18, 2015 at 1:42 am #

    No James, the comment was narcissistic because you called me out for not remembering a comment you may or may not have made, at some unspecific point in time, with the underlying suggestion that I was somehow making an ignorant statement.

    Is it possible that you MAY have mentioned that you continued to work as a college professor while attending law school? Sure. But the way you stated it implied that I should have retained every comment you have ever made. That’s rather impractical, yes? And maybe, if you are truly honest with yourself, a little narcissistic?

    Did you intend it that way? I’d be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Possibly. IF your follow-up statement didn’t completely rewrite your original statement and change its context. A simple “I didn’t mean it to sound the way it was written” would have totally sufficed.

  92. sexhysteria August 18, 2015 at 1:43 am #

    I’m offended!

  93. Jenny Islander August 18, 2015 at 3:47 am #

    @Warren: I’m not talking sensitivities, OK? I’m not talking about somebody huwting my widdle fee-fees. Have you ever seen somebody in the midst of a PTSD flashback? This is a measurable, recordable, physical condition of the brain in which the mechanism that normally files the fight-or-flight off of bad experiences over time does not function. The memory may replay in full Sensurround to the point that the person having the flashback is actually mentally there, even if “there” is 20 years ago on the other side of the country. From the outside this may look like anything from a petit mal seizure to a screaming attack upon the person in front of them. Also, this is a manageable condition, not a curable one. I have gotten better but there is no getting over this.

    People’s triggers do differ. In general, however, explicit visual or auditory depictions or detailed written descriptions of the situations that most frequently cause PTSD* will very often, if presented without warning, trigger a flashback in somebody who has PTSD. Also in general, a simple forewarning in general terms (“graphic violence and gore,” “photographs of torture,” “detailed descriptions of rape”) will enable somebody who has been in therapy to forearm themselves. Grounding, centering, and orientation were the techniques I learned.

    *The latest research I have read points to a quirk in the brain structures that process memories as the underlying issue. People who have it are much more likely to get PTSD than people who don’t, given comparable stressors. Call it environmental asthma of the brain.

  94. Barak A. Pearlmutter August 18, 2015 at 5:30 am #

    TLDR: There is *asbestos* in *crayons*!!!

  95. jmi August 18, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    @chicagodad “theory of mimes and clowns.” Hysterical! though for some reason I do think that there is a nearly universal fear of clowns. 🙂

    As an instructor, my problem with trigger warnings or perhaps just the suggestion that students can choose to opt-out of content stems from this: Oftentimes, students with no triggers will choose to opt out of the content, lesson, etc and then expect that they will not be held accountable for the material from that lesson. And, as young people sometimes do, they can rile their peers up into a frenzy of indignation that they were exposed to such content. And, the flip side is that students can also feel uncomfortable not participating because they feel singled out should they leave the classroom — at which point, you have also violated their sense of safety.

    I am not saying trigger warnings are without value — if a student reviewed the syllabus and comes to me to let me know that they may have a problem with some content due to a past trauma that they are working through then I will always make an accommodation for them.

    When I was in school, we debated the idea that an individual’s rights stop at the nose of the next person. I buy that a community has the responsibility to protect it’s most vulnerable members. But does that mean reducing everything to it’s lowest common denominator?

  96. hineata August 18, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    Am not quite sure that primary schools anyway are the soft, gentle places that people appear to think they are. Just today I had to sort out several fights, and separate various individuals. And that was just one 20 minute spell ☺. It’s a jungle out there, people :-).

    As to ‘microaggressions’ I agree with the commentator who said it’s the follow-up question that’s the irritant. The first one, “Where do you come from?” should be pretty harmless….

    I admit to being a bit naughty in that I tend to think of ‘Kiwis’ as those who speak with Kiwi accents, and all others as being foreigners, whereas plenty of Kiwi citizens were born overseas, but are now absolutely legit New Zealanders. Because, though, the accent is foreign, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale to ask the person’s country of origin, as part of polite conversation. Am sure the same thing happens in America. Where I do get cross is when, say, people who look Chinese, or Indian, or Samoan, but are obviously, from their accent, either born in NZ or have been here since early childhood, are asked by others (usually white) where they ‘come from ‘. Have several times heard English immigrants question Kiwi-born non-whites in this manner, which is a/ ignorant, and b/ pretty ironically hilarious. Fortunately, most Kiwi-born people of any stripe have a good sense of humour, but yes, it gets pretty irritating :-).

    Geez, what a rant! Must have been triggered by something. …Why didn’t you warn me, Lenore? 🙂

  97. hineata August 18, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    To the rest of the article, though, it does sound a bit/a lot ridiculous. How do you get an education if you’re allowed to avoid things? I doubt the rest of the world worries about triggers for Uni. …just asked Boy about warnings, and he shrugged and then pointed out that you can withdraw from a course any time you want. That seems to have been the extent of his understanding about trigger warnings.

    I repeat, though, that I really don’t think school is a soft option. My days are spent insisting kids do many things they don’t ‘feel like’ doing. …usually with a statement along the lines of “Life is tough, get on with it!” , “Where do you think you are, your bedroom? ” , or “Well, I don’t feel like putting up with your moaning, you have 5 seconds to get out there or you’ve made the choice to visit the principal at morning tea!” And then there’s the aforementioned aggression on the playground. Kids are tough little blighted, and if they can survive school they can survive anything.

  98. Diana Green August 18, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    “HONEY! LET’S SHRINK – WRAP THE KIDS!”

  99. Warren August 18, 2015 at 7:57 am #

    Jenny,
    Sorry but be it PTSD or whatever the condition causing one’s episodes or flashbacks, it is not the world’s problem. It is the issue of that individual and they should not expect the rest of the world, school or place of employment to tip toe around it.

    If you cannot handle the entire course content, then you don’t belong in that course. Why should anyone that opts out of certain material, still get credit for the course, as someone that covered all the material?

    Now in the working world, do we start with a full disclosure ruling then. That all professionals have to inform their clients, patients and customers of all the material they refused to study, and why they refused? That would be the fair thing to do. That way people can make an educated choice in who gets their business.

  100. Buffy August 18, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    @James, I know I’m talking to a wall, but just in case your social skills are as bad as they appear, let me lay it out for you. Sometimes commenters just aren’t talking to you. They are commenting on the story, or responding to a different poster (hard for you to believe, I know). Often, they prefer not to have their comment broken down line by line so that you can, with your all-knowing wisdom, show how their opinions and thoughts are wrong, wrong, wrong.

    More listening, less jabbering. Try that.
    Or maybe just find another website to troll. There are lots.

  101. Traci August 18, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    OR, maybe college student anxiety isn’t about their school age soccer trophies, but about the recognition (fully conscious or not) that achieving a spot in the middle class is becoming ever-more elusive, they’ll have a pile of student loans to pay off, and the viability of the planet is most definitely in question. They can see the current crop of political and corporate leaders — no wonder they’re anxious.

    Maybe there is something to what Haidt is saying, but I can also say there are more college students studying abroad — in places like Nepal and Peru, climbing mountains, kayaking in whitewater, and starting their own businesses than ever before. They’re flooding into cities too. All stuff our parents would have warned us about. “Take the safe path,” they would say. Where are the safe paths now?

  102. ChicagoDad August 18, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    @Buffy, “they prefer not to have their comment broken down line by line so that you can, with your all-knowing wisdom, show how their opinions and thoughts are wrong, wrong, wrong” couldn’t agree more! Plus, Mr. Pollock’s comments have gotten to be a bit of a bore lately.

    James, if you’re out there, stop with banal rebuttals and uninspired nit-picking. Use that brain of yours to write something original, interesting, maybe an a anecdote or two. Or don’t.

  103. BL August 18, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    “It’s not that complicated. Decent people avoid harming other people. Polite people avoid offending other people.”

    At all costs? At the expense of truth?

    No.

  104. Doug August 18, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    There seems to be a disconnect between valid trigger warnings and those that precious snowflake college students want.

    Valid trigger warnings:
    -This news report shows graphic images of bodies after a car crash.
    -This course about criminal law discusses things like murder, rape, wanton destruction.
    -Peanuts may have been used during the manufacture of this food.

    -Invalid trigger warnings:
    This class discusses the works of Shakespeare, and therefore may have gender stereotypes inconsistent with modern values.
    -This DVD of Sesame Street shows activities that children should not participate in, such as walking to a park and playing without adult supervision.
    -We will be discussing political ideologies, therefore you may encounter opinions that are opposite your own.

    There are legitimate warnings, and then there are those that deserve ridicule and scorn.

  105. Donna August 18, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    “But according to the ivy-encrusted person I was talking to, taking 10 minutes to look up “Most common PTSD triggers”* was JUST LIKE forcing un to do therapy for me”

    While I don’t agree with the way he stated it, I do agree with the sentiment. I do think you are expecting your professors to do your work for you. It is not their job to anticipate your special needs; it is your job to uncover them. The onus should be on YOU and YOU ALONE to review the syllabus and research the materials if you have an issue. College professors are not generally teaching obscure materials that nobody else in the world has read. In fact, they are generally teaching widely read and reviewed works. A world of knowledge is at your fingertips. Research the material on the syllabus yourself. Somewhere out there I can almost guarantee you is the information you are looking for. If you absolutely can’t find it after putting in a reasonable effort, set up and appointment with your professor to discuss the issue.

    I have no problem with someone needing or receiving necessary accommodations as a result of some trauma. We are not talking about life-saving skills that are being missed. A person can truly be a very good and highly successful lawyer without knowing rape law since the vast majority of lawyers don’t practice criminal law. But there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you can’t go to your criminal law professor and ask if s/he is teaching sex crimes and when. If you can’t do that, I do highly question your ability to be a lawyer.

  106. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    “No James, the comment was narcissistic because you called me out for not remembering a comment you may or may not have made, at some unspecific point in time, with the underlying suggestion that I was somehow making an ignorant statement.”

    Boy, did you misread THAT.

    Nice try to deflect the fact that you “fired the first shot”, as it were. The takeaway you should have is that if you’re going to be condescending, make sure you really do know more than the other person, first. For example, suggesting that a person with a JD might want to try reading Title IX, or that a person with a decade’s experience as a college instructor needs to familiarize himself with how college campuses are run.

    Did I correct your condescension gently? No. Have you ‘fessed up to it? No. Call it a draw.

  107. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    ” Oftentimes, students with no triggers will choose to opt out of the content, lesson, etc and then expect that they will not be held accountable for the material from that lesson.”

    Treat this as a learning opportunity. Students have always had the option of skipping class*, and they’ve always had a multitude of reasons for doing so, some good, some not so much. It’s an opportunity to teach responsibility. Yes, you can choose not to attend class. Your choice(s) will be reflected in the grade you earn. Make your decisions accordingly.

  108. Donna August 18, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    “Valid trigger warnings:
    -This course about criminal law discusses things like murder, rape, wanton destruction.”

    How is this a valid trigger warning? I understand that the material is validly triggering for some, but if you are too dumb to figure out for yourself that a course on criminal law may actually discuss crime, I highly doubt that you can even find your way out of the house to get to law school, let alone actually have sufficient scholastic achievement to get in.

    If we are going to give trigger warnings, they should at least be limited to things that are more obscure. If a common trigger warning is clearly evident, there should be no need to provide it.

    And for James, yes I am opposed to all warnings about obvious things, even on food. I know that they are not going to go away, but I am still opposed to them. I don’t think that we need to go out of our way to circumvent the natural selection process by protecting people who can’t figure out that peanut butter contains peanuts.

  109. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    ““It’s not that complicated. Decent people avoid harming other people. Polite people avoid offending other people.”

    At all costs? At the expense of truth?”

    You seem to be seeing words that I didn’t write. If you’re going to insert your own words, don’t complain to me that you don’t like them.

    Do you also object to the statement “good drivers avoid accidents”?

  110. BL August 18, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    “You seem to be seeing words that I didn’t write. If you’re going to insert your own words, don’t complain to me that you don’t like them.”

    I didn’t insert words, I asked two questions. As stated, your ‘avoid offending’ and ‘avoid harming’ statements admitted of no exceptions, so I asked if you made any.

    And no, those exceptions cannot be taken for granted given the subject matter. Campus speech police tend to act like giving offense is the ultimate crime.

  111. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 9:54 am #

    ” I do think you are expecting your professors to do your work for you. It is not their job to anticipate your special needs; it is your job to uncover them. The onus should be on YOU and YOU ALONE to review the syllabus and research the materials if you have an issue.”

    Actually, it IS the teacher’s job to anticipate barriers to learning.
    The teacher knows the subject, and, with experience, knows which areas of the course are likely to cause problems. The student doesn’t yet know this… that’s why the student is in school. This creates a split responsibility… the teacher should be aware of common problems, and should provide advance guidance. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, actual triggers are not always obvious. So someone who has one that is not clear and obvious has the responsibility to communicate this information to the teacher.

    ” I don’t think that we need to go out of our way to circumvent the natural selection process by protecting people who can’t figure out that peanut butter contains peanuts.”
    Right. But they put the warnings on things that don’t obviously contain peanuts. And sometimes, on things that would not be expected to contain peanuts.

  112. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    “I didn’t insert words, I asked two questions. As stated, your ‘avoid offending’ and ‘avoid harming’ statements admitted of no exceptions, so I asked if you made any.”

    I see. So the problem is that you don’t understand that the word “avoid” isn’t an absolute?
    (or are you imagining that the word “always” appears before “avoid”)?

    “And no, those exceptions cannot be taken for granted given the subject matter.”
    Um, OK. But they can be inferred from the lack of anything in the words that I offered that claimed absolutes. What were you expecting to accomplish, pointing out that a statement that doesn’t claim to be absolute, isn’t absolute?

    “Campus speech police tend to act like giving offense is the ultimate crime.”
    Sure they do.

  113. ChicagoDad August 18, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    Who am I:

    “Someone else’s comment”
    My trite and boring rebuttal.

    Repeat ad nauseum

    *YAWN*

  114. Warren August 18, 2015 at 10:13 am #

    James,
    What was it about “special needs”, in Donna’s comment that you didn’t understand? We all know that any teacher, instructor, professor or whatever is to present their material in the best possible way for students. It is not their job nor duty to anticipate the special needs of every student, in every class, workshop or lecture, in every semester, every year.

    You go to college or any other post secondary institution of learning, and you are an adult. It is your responsibility to adapt and overcome. It is not the school’s responsibility to sanitize the world for you.

  115. Donna August 18, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    “Actually, it IS the teacher’s job to anticipate barriers to learning.”

    No, it is the teacher’s job to anticipate general or common barriers to learning. It is your job to bring to the teacher’s attention any unique barriers to learning that are specific to you. A teacher is not required to anticipate – before even meeting any of his/her students for the semester – what person-specific barriers each one may have an address the syllabus accordingly.

    PTSD is not a common barrier to learning. True PTSD is actually pretty rare. Most people who suffer trauma do not develop PTSD. Making professors identify this very person-specific barrier to learning and then apply to the entire class all the time, is akin to having a single child receive an accommodation through an IEP and then applying that accommodation to every student in the school for every year thereafter, despite nobody needing the accommodation.

    “But they put the warnings on things that don’t obviously contain peanuts. And sometimes, on things that would not be expected to contain peanuts.”

    Right. Which is why I specifically stated that I am opposed to warnings when the contents are obvious. In all honesty, I do believe that since the full ingredients are usually listed a mere centimeter or two away from the warning all warnings except those about the item being processed in a plant that also processes peanuts are completely redundant. Nor do I know a single peanut allergic person who relies on this information.

  116. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Gee, ChicagoDad, if you can’t handle running into someone who has opinions different from your own on an Internet blog, how will you ever manage to deal with the real world?

  117. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    “No, it is the teacher’s job to anticipate general or common barriers to learning. It is your job to bring to the teacher’s attention any unique barriers to learning that are specific to you.”

    Why does this sentence start with the word “no”, when it is in more-or-less complete agreement with what I said? Unless, maybe, you didn’t actually read where I said “the teacher should be aware of common problems, and should provide advance guidance. On the other hand, as has been pointed out, actual triggers are not always obvious. So someone who has one that is not clear and obvious has the responsibility to communicate this information to the teacher.” before you decided to “correct” me?

  118. ChicagoDad August 18, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    @James, your opinions aren’t different, they’re dull.

  119. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    “Nor do I know a single peanut allergic person who relies on this information.”

    Sometimes, people who are not allergic prepare food for people who are.

  120. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    “your opinions aren’t different, they’re dull.”

    They’re apparently interesting enough that you keep coming back for more.

    WARNING:
    My opinions are my opinions..
    If you don’t enjoy reading them, you might want to consider alternatives, such as NOT reading them.
    Everything I write is preceded by my name in bold print, for your convenience.

  121. ChicagoDad August 18, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    “They’re apparently interesting enough that you keep coming back for more.”

    meh

    Your comments aren’t all that special. They are just sometimes between comments from Donna and Warren, which are a pleasure to read.

  122. Donna August 18, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    “Why does this sentence start with the word “no”, when it is in more-or-less complete agreement with what I said?”

    I guess we agree somewhat.

    However, where we disagree is crucial. I oppose defining someone’s individual mental health issue as a common problem that a teacher should have to address with a general statement to the entire class. PTSD is NOT common. It is not something a teacher should anticipate and therefore no general guidance is needed for anyone – ie no trigger warnings need to be provided. Even if the trigger at issue is the most common trigger that exists in the world of triggers, the teacher does not need to provide a warning because it is still an individual mental health issue and not a general barrier to learning.

    However, as I also specifically state, if a student does happen to suffer from PTSD and needs specific guidance as to the subject matter, they should set up an appointment with their professor to discuss the materials. Personally, I think they should be the adult that they are and try to find the answer themselves before bothering the professor with their personal struggles, but if they can’t find a sufficient answer, the professor should provide what guidance s/he can.

  123. Warren August 18, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Chicago Dad,

    Here in Ontario, there was a Grade 13. Done away with now, it was course material to prepare you for University. Most of us were either an old 17 or young 18 yr olds. Treated like adults. The assumption being that upon entry into University, we would be adults, responsible for getting an education, not having it handed to you.

    Mr. Snowden, English Lit. teacher. First day, and his first words to the class, “I am not here to deprive you of your right to fail my class.”. We knew going to University meant stress, adversity, and challenges. That was supposed to be part of the whole experience.

  124. Papilio August 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    @JulieC: Aaargh, hahaha! That made me laugh too.

    “Editor’s note: […] We acknowledge that […] not all individuals who identify as women menstruate […].”

    You think?!!

  125. Kimberly August 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    @JMI

    “When I was in school, we debated the idea that an individual’s rights stop at the nose of the next person. I buy that a community has the responsibility to protect it’s most vulnerable members. But does that mean reducing everything to it’s lowest common denominator?”

    I absolutely love that statement. It is so true and I think it is what most people are forgetting. College is tough. It forces you (sometimes) out of your comfort zone and if the professor is good, it also forces you to think outside the box and look at things a lot more critically.

    The first time my (now ex) husband put his hands on me, I gave him a pass with the warning that if he ever put his hands on me again, he would regret it. When he attacked me a second time during our divorce, he walked away with 10 staples in his head. A year later I had to take “Family and Community Violence” for my Justice Studies degree. The entire segment on domestic violence was extremely uncomfortable for me. because it seemed to highlight all the ways in which my ex had “abused” me: attempting to control what I did with my money, where I went, who I hung out with, my friends…not to mention the actual verbal and physical assaults. But it was also uncomfortable for me because as I’d read through the various cases or listen to the lectures, I kept thinking to myself: “that’s not how it was for me”.

    I felt like the course material was trying to pigeon-hole me into this stereotypical role of a meek and acquiescent wife when it reality I refused to acquiesce to his demands and continued to assert myself throughout our entire relationship and marriage.

    It never, not once, occurred to me that I could go up to the professor and let her know the material might be tough for me. I simply told myself that I needed to suck it up and grow a pair (I know, not very feminist). Was my experience tough? Sure, but did it rise to the point where the material would be unduly traumatic for me? Not even close.

    Part of becoming an adult and functioning member of society is learning to become your own advocate. Those with truly traumatic life experiences need to have the wherewithal to be able to approach their professors and lay their cards on the table and work with the professor to find the most reasonable path to learning the material with the least amount of unnecessary discomfort. Those who merely find discomfort in an unsavory subject need to learn how to suck it up and push through it.

    There is a certain amount of common sense that goes into the university life though. You can’t go to law school and not expect violence to be a part of the curriculum at some point. You can’t pursue a degree in social work and not expect to have to deal with child abuse as the subject matter. You can’t study psychology and not expect to face (insert traumatic experience here).

  126. Jenny Islander August 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    OK, for Donna and everybody else, ONE MORE TIME:

    –PTSD: NO FOREWARNING–

    Stimulus hits brain. THIS INCLUDES PRE-READING THE BOOKS. What part of “If I don’t know it’s coming, I can’t get ready” isn’t penetrating here?
    Lose anything from next half hour to next 18 hours to assorted crap that gets in the way of getting stuff done.
    Scrape self together, attempt to salvage whatever I can.

    –PTSD: FOREWARNING–

    The forewarning can be as simple as the five or six words used to describe a movie (“Saving Private Ryan: Graphic, realistic depictions of battlefield death and injury.” Oh, this isn’t one of those romanticized war movies? Thanks for the warning. There. Done. “Text includes firsthand accounts and photos of the Nanking Massacre.” Thanks! If the thing has an index you don’t even have to tell me where.)
    Warning is received.
    Assess whether information associated with stimulus is going to be valuable enough to require the reception of the stimulus.
    Plan action, including the pre-stimulus coping techniques PTSD sufferers learn in therapy, or possibly getting a scrip for one Xanax to be taken on lecture day, or maybe assessing the consequences of avoiding the stimulus and choosing to do that.
    No flashback! Yay! A productive day! Yay!

    And I am done.

  127. Warren August 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Jenny,

    There is a big difference between choosing to see a movie or not, and choosing to opt out of course material in University.

    Why should students who have opted out of material be allowed credit for the course? Plain, simple and to the point.

    Now as far as the warnings themselves, it sounds like you basically want the same type of warnings seen at the beginning of pretty much all movies and TV shows. You do realize that these were put in place, not to help full grown adults avoid touchy material, but as a guide so you can gauge what you children watch. Therefore you want adults treated like children?

    Things are getting way out of hand. People have got to start taking control of their emotions and personal issues. From the new fad of trigger warnings, to the removal of the Stars and Bars, what’s next? Oh I know, the Canadian Flag will be banned in the US, because our humiliating the US in 1812, is offensive history.

  128. Donna August 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

    Jenny Islander,

    Nobody said anything about pre-reading anything. It is really as simple as looking on the internet for information. Everyone reviews everything these days. Take your Saving Private Ryan, even back in the very early days of the internet, I was well aware of the highly graphic content of that movie before I saw a single second of it via movie reviews and hearing other people talking about it. It really is not that difficult. Especially when you are dealing with the very common and highly analyzed materials taught in most undergraduate courses. Not when there are a large number of online rape/PTSD support groups with thousands of members who can probably tell you in 5 seconds. Not when you can ask your therapist who is well aware of your issues and probably read the book when she was in undergrad.

    And if that fails, TALK TO THE TEACHER. Why is that so hard? Why is it his/her responsibility to try to guess potential triggers of random students and not your responsibility to ask about your own personal triggers?

    Maybe I have had a somehow remarkable scholastic career, but in 7 years of higher education at two different universities on opposite sides of the country, I have found every professor that I chose to engage with outside of class to be very welcoming and willing to help. For example, every one of my professors were extremely understanding when my father got seriously ill and ultimately died during my last year of law school. One agreed to give me credit even though I cut an internship short to visit him when I first found out. A former professor whose class I wasn’t even in that year sought me out to offer to sponsor me in an independent study if I found that I needed to drop a class. A professor that I thought was an absolute ogre for the 2 prior years spent hours privately tutoring me on the material I missed when I was out for two weeks. Professors WANT their students to succeed and are generally more than willing to help you out of you ask.

  129. Kimberly August 18, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Jenny, your argument almost resembles the complaints parents had after taking their young children to watch the South Park movie. I’m extremely hard pressed to come up with a single department or class in which a student going in would be completely oblivious to what it might entail.

    Even then, on the first day students are handed green sheets which list out all of the material that they are expected to study. How hard is it for someone to walk up to their professor and say “Hey, my grandmother was in Nanking during the war and I’m worried this might be too hard for me to handle.”

    If you’re willing to work with the professor to find another suitable option for the material, then there shouldn’t be a problem. If the professor is unwilling to work with you, then move up the chain of command. But no one can seriously expect professors to outline every possible “trigger”. And, as Warren so succinctly stated, expecting to not participate in a section of class with no adverse effects on your grade is completely unreasonable.

    However, for those students who feel they shouldn’t have to participate in some of the class material, a doctor’s note would be warranted. It’s the same expectation professors have if you don’t want an absence to be unexcused.

  130. Samwise August 18, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    As far as James’ complaints that genuine trauma can produce real PTSD break downs over even innocuous, every day conversations, reading material etc… If a person is truly so sensitive, they belong in therapy, not in college. When my husband was experiencing bad PTSD and associated pressure, he enrolled in in depth therapy and spent a couple months sequestering himself off from the world. When I was at the worst of my eating disorder and could not handle conversations that triggered me (along with a lot of other things), I went to rehab

    Expecting the world to rearrange itself around your personal issues is not pragmatic, and you aren’t doing yourself any favors. I am very, very glad that rather than having an entitled expectation that the world cater to my problems, I sought to solve those problems. I got some serious help, like my husband did when he got back from war. We worked really hard and developed coping mechanisms, then we went back into the real world, which continued, in fact, to be the real world. And we are far better off being a part of that world, rather than trying to build a little bubble around ourselves to avoid any challenges or adversity.

    Comparing trigger warnings to allergy warnings is asenine. A person could die if they eat something they are allergic to, and some foods are difficult to tell the ingredients of. If you are so mentally ill that you get triggered to the point of being a life threatening danger to yourself, you belong in an inpatient psych ward, not a classroom.

    And as someone said earlier, my guess is that most at students who complain about trigger warnings are those who think simply being offended or uncomfortable is terrible and abusive, as opposed to people who actually have experienced severe trauma.

  131. Donna August 18, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    “I’m extremely hard pressed to come up with a single department or class in which a student going in would be completely oblivious to what it might entail.”

    Exactly.

    I think the only real possibilities for unexpected triggers if you use common sense are really literature or cinema classes. It is very possible that a student would not know much about certain books or movies prior to taking a class. I know that I read a couple books and watched several movies in college that I had never heard of before seeing them on a syllabus. However, most of these classes focus on literature and movies that are well-known in literary or cinematography circles and not the professor’s own personal work that nobody else has ever seen. It is easy in most cases to ascertain the content prior to reading or watching with a little effort.

  132. Rook August 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    In my experience, it wasn’t that the college kids were easily traumatized, it’s that they had a chip on their shoulder and a serious attitude problem. They thrived on the power trip of “putting somebody in their place” and they loved that feeling of control. They only thing that offended them by being presented with “unpleasant” situation such as losing a game came strictly from them being a poor sport and sore loser. A lot of them also had a martyr complex and would take offense to benign things just to make a scene, and thus further their control trip while trying to manipulate people into thinking they were a saint. Some of them were fragile crybabies, and a rare few were justified in their issues.

    I do appreciate trigger warnings, and I try to provide them within a reasonable amount for works I create. “Here be bare boobies, do not proceed if you suffer nosebleeds.” (Anime joke.) I don’t go out of my way to censor myself but I also don’t go for the shock value of suddenly whipping out a mangled puppy either. I think I’ve found a happy balance with it since my readers come across as mature and responsible people rather than over-dramatic fake martyrs or those scary people with anger issues. And I use a similar method with my kid. When he was about a year old, I wouldn’t let him climb much because his coordination wasn’t very good. But the older he gets, the further I let him go or push him to do stuff. He seems pretty happy and confident so far. He even catches house spiders and has me put them outside, so he definitely isn’t fearful of creepy crawlies.

  133. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 7:59 pm #

    “As far as James’ complaints that genuine trauma can produce real PTSD break downs over even innocuous, every day conversations, reading material etc…”

    My what, now? How did this get attributed to me?

    “If a person is truly so sensitive, they belong in therapy, not in college.”
    The one and the other are not mutually exclusive.

    “Expecting the world to rearrange itself around your personal issues”
    AFAIK, nobody has asked for this, or suggested that it happen.

  134. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    “no one can seriously expect professors to outline every possible ‘trigger’.”

    Which is why nobody asks them to.

  135. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

    So many people complaining that students feel “entitled” to dictate or decide what they should learn. Well, at the university level, students are customers, and customers usually do get to decide what they get when they are buying something.

  136. hineata August 18, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    How much of the fragility is helicoptering, and how much is the straight destabilization of kids’ lives? Have been thinking about that this morning, after hearing of a particularly awful situation at a local high school.

    In one of the more ‘exciting’ classes I’m privileged to spend time with, 18 out of 20 of the students are being raised in sole parent situations or between parents. Some of those homes are very stable ones, others considerably less so. In the general population kids can’t rely on their parents staying together to raise them, let alone be together by college age. Values, as amply demonstrated by James on another thread, are whatever people feel they are….no more universal agreement on right and wrong. Many children are raised without a faith of any kind to fall back on .Jobs are increasingly difficult to come by, even for those with a work history. And to top it off we have seemingly endless articles on how ‘adult children’ are ruining the lives of their boomer parents.

    Any wonder kids and young people feel worthless sometimes, and maybe struggle a bit more than we did? Stability appears to have gone out the window….

  137. Donna August 18, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    “Well, at the university level, students are customers, and customers usually do get to decide what they get when they are buying something.”

    Rarely do customers actually get to dictate exactly what they want. They simply get to choose from the available choices. The kid destroyed the TV yesterday so I was just in Best Buy looking around and while the customer service people were great, they did make it clear that they could only sell me a TV that already exists in Best Buys’ product line. They are not going to procure a TV that Best Buy doesn’t sell for me. They are not going to build me a TV with just the features that I want. While I have a choice of several stores in which to buy a TV, and a wide array of choices for TVs within the store I choose, I am still limited by what actually exists and is available at the time I decide to buy a TV. While I will eventually buy a TV that suits my needs, it will not be a specially designed TV that contains every feature I want, presented exactly as I want with nothing extraneous that I don’t want. There will possibly even be things that I don’t like about my new TV. I might end up being completely unhappy with it, but should that happen, Best Buy is not going to redesign my TV for me; it will simply let me buy another TV. A TV that I again have to take as it exists.

  138. Warren August 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

    Yeah, this whole students are customers thing just doesn’t fly. They are not purchasing their education. They are purchasing the opportunity to be educated.

  139. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 11:17 pm #

    “Values, as amply demonstrated by James on another thread, are whatever people feel they are…”
    Yes. Not only do different people have different values, they’re malleable with time, too. For example, the once radical notions that women can do useful things besides child-rearing, and perhaps should be granted the franchise, caught on. The notion that black persons are actually people, and not merely valuable property, caught on.

    .no more universal agreement on right and wrong.”
    There has never been universal agreement on right and wrong, nor anything even close, at any point in human history (or pre-history, for that matter).

    “Many children are raised without a faith of any kind to fall back on ”
    Some intentionally so. Faith is not essential to ethical behavior.

    “Any wonder kids and young people feel worthless sometimes, and maybe struggle a bit more than we did? Stability appears to have gone out the window”
    What stability? My grandmother’s generation dealt with the Great Depression and a world war. My parents’ generation got to grow up during the Cold War, and reach adulthood during the Vietnam War. I came of age in the mid-70’s… Arab oil embargo, the fall of Teheran, and a resurgence of the Cold War. Things were pretty good in the 90’s… the rise of the Internet being the most notable theme of that particular decade. Of course, you have to ignore a bit of domestic terrorism (Waco’s Branch Davidian standoff, the Murrah building bombing) and the fact that the political divide in American reached a new peak, with Congress impeaching a President for a crime that hadn’t even occurred yet when the investigation started. The stability of the last 15 years, maybe (three wars for the U.S.)
    OK, so… that last paragraph was extremely America-centric. I’m an American. Sue me.

  140. James Pollock August 18, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    “Rarely do customers actually get to dictate exactly what they want.”
    Well, certainly yours don’t. And consumers of emergency medical services are generally in a pretty poor bargaining position, as well. And cell phone and cable television vendors get to say “take what we’re selling, or get out”. Most everybody else gets a choice.

    “They simply get to choose from the available choices.”
    They get to choose the vendor that has the choice they want. If enough of them want the same thing, it will be offered. If not enough people want the same thing, it won’t. Capitalism. It’s generally pretty reactive to market demand.

    “The kid destroyed the TV yesterday so I was just in Best Buy looking around and while the customer service people were great, they did make it clear that they could only sell me a TV that already exists in Best Buys’ product line.”
    And, of course, your only choice is to buy a TV from Best Buy.

    “They are not going to procure a TV that Best Buy doesn’t sell for me.”
    And they’re going to keep you from leaving the store without a TV.

    “They are not going to build me a TV with just the features that I want.”
    And, since the one store you were in didn’t have it, you can’t get it anywhere.

    “While I have a choice of several stores in which to buy a TV, and a wide array of choices for TVs within the store I choose”
    Did you lose track of the point you were trying to make?

    “I am still limited by what actually exists and is available at the time I decide to buy a TV.”
    No, actually, you aren’t. You can choose to delay or even completely forego buying a TV. You can have one custom made for you, to whatever specs you’d like, if you’re willing to pay a craftsman to do it for you at craftsman’s wages.. You chose not to do these things. It was your choice.

    If you go into a halal or kosher butcher, you can’t get pork chops at any price. This does not mean that you cannot buy pork chops. It means you’re in the wrong store. You need to choose more wisely. If the store you’re in won’t give you what you want… why are you buying from them?

  141. Diana Green August 19, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    I bought ATLANTIC and read the article, and plan to buy a stack and give them as holiday gifts to my friends with kids. Along with FREE RANGE KIDS, of course!

    Yesterday I took my adult son to lunch to discuss the college labeling issue. He was brought up free range, of course, and went to Montessori nursery in NYC, so he carried bowls of hot soup and handled knives at age three. And played chess, which teaches that actions have consequences.

    He wasn’t as bothered by the labels as I was, and now I can see his logic is sound. We live in a diverse country, getting “diverser” by the day. We are strewn across a giant normal curve that is far from normal at it’s extremes. But we have to accept that, and value it. We need to learn to value those who are different from us, even if they raise their kids under bell jars. Even if their kids skew the bell curve.

    There have always been “Mama’s boys” and “Daddy’s girls”. If all little girls were as curious and skeptical as ALICE IN WONDERLAND, where would the white male establishment find it’s trophy wives? Where would Men’s Clubs find servile women to supply their every need and desire? Whom would American business jocks keep below the glass ceiling?

    SNOW WHITE is one of the most popular Halloween costumes. My niece’s daughter was already being trained at age three. She wore her Snow White dress day and night, had a collection of an infinite number of Barbie dolls and didn’t speak to her own great grandmother, visiting from 3000 miles away–because her father’s mother was a “stranger”.

    The little sweetheart’s mother and her mother’s mother were raised like that, too, I guess.

    Is it wrong? No. It is not even “old fashioned”.
    but it isn’t traditional in this country, either. Because my side of the family is so full of fully actualized women we simply a perfect counter balance.

    My little grand niece is in university now. In a place that I am sure labels every imaginable trigger to protect her from everything. She will most likely meet and marry a man who will cherish her and take care of her.

    But it is a huge university. And there are students there who will use the labels, as my son did, to spot areas they might want to jump right into, without shutting their eyes and holding their noses.

  142. Samwise August 19, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    James, you are correct, I misattributed that to you, it was Jenny who was talking about PTSD meltdowns that are so severe a person literally loses their mind, and I was saying if someone is both so easily triggered, and becomes dangerous to themselves or others when triggered, they are simply not fit to be in college, they need to be in an extensive mental health program that would preclude class attendance.

    However, considering you compared people being triggered with a fatal allergic reaction, that would indicate that you share Jenny’s opinion; that you expect to have students so mentally fragile, they may kill themselves if they are triggered. So if that is what you meant by that statement, the same still applies.

    Teachers should be expected to provide a comprehensive syllabus on what a class entails, and students shuold be expected to decide for themselves if that class is appropriate for them. Teachers should not be expected to think that people knowingly are attending a class that has subject material they don’t want to hear and to have to warn kids ahead of time and give them a pass for not completing the assigned work load.

    In any event, I will say again that I don’t believe that all but a small minority of those wishing for trigger warnings are people actually suffering from anything other than a sense of entitlement and a desire to pull a power trip by dictating what others can discuss in their presense. I work at a cancer unit. My parents did foster care and I plan to do it as well, and I volunteer with at risk and abused kids. My husband is a veteran and I have participated in and volunteered with crippled vets. I have volunteered at home and aboard with former child prostitutes.

    So I happen to live a life where I interact with a lot of people who have undergone legitimately traumatizing, horrible things. Yet it isn’t those kinds of people who go on about trigger warnings, and acting like adversity in life is something to be avoided rather than overcome. I see these arguments overwhelmingly coming from middle class or wealthy people who have simply been raised to think that being uncomfortable or offended is the same thing as being victimized, people who actually WANT to play at being victims because getting attention that way is easier than actually accomplishing something in life and commanding respect and attention through their positive contributions to society.

  143. A Dad August 19, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    Where trigger warnings become a problem is when used to eliminate the speech of others.

    Some students requested that a talk by Christina Sommers required trigger warnings.

    http://twitchy.com/2015/04/16/the-new-infantilization-of-college-students-students-demand-christina-h-sommers-appearances-come-with-trigger-warnings/

    The puppy/Playdoh room for the screening of ‘American Sniper’ at the University of Michigan.

    These are not meant to protect someone – these are meant to prevent the conversion from happening to begin with.

  144. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    “However, considering you compared people being triggered with a fatal allergic reaction, that would indicate that you share Jenny’s opinion; that you expect to have students so mentally fragile, they may kill themselves if they are triggered.”

    You have inferred something that was not implied. I expect students to show up, ready to learn… but I also expect them to be adults, and to be better situated to decide if there’s somewhere else they should be… whether it be having to stay late at work, handle a family emergency, or look after their own (mental or physical) health.

    I worked for a school that had mandatory attendance… miss too many days of class, and you get dropped from it, which means taking (and paying for it) again. I had some students who consistently missed exactly the number of hours they could miss without triggering this rule. I provided the information they needed to have to make their own decision on the subject. The student is the customer. They pay for their seat in class… it is up to them to decide how (or if) to use it.

    From the other side, I sat in law school classes for four years (it takes four years if you work full-time while you’re in law school, three if you go to law school full-time.) I sat behind dozens of people who were there, in class (ABA-accreditation requires taking attendance in law school) The students were there… with their laptops open, playing solitaire, browsing the Internet, or any of a lot of other things which are obvious if you are sitting behind them.

    “Teachers should be expected to provide a comprehensive syllabus on what a class entails, and students shuold be expected to decide for themselves if that class is appropriate for them.”
    Experienced teachers know when problems, if any, are likely to surface. They should share that information. It doesn’t make any difference if you call this a “comprehensive syllabus” or a “trigger warning”.
    Some classes (law schools will get this, so can some others) will literally have the course content change during the course..

    My first-semester Con-Law class had to accommodate some Supreme Court rulings on the detention of “Enemy combatants”. My second-semester Con-Law class had to accommodate some rulings about sexual activity as a privacy issue. Are there some people who might have strong enough feelings on these topics that the notion that telling them, in advance, when they will be covered? I think so… even if the only thing we’re “protecting” them from is some discomfort that comes from their own psyche, even if the only thing we’re “protecting” them from is some embarrassment. It provides a benefit, and costs nearly nothing.

  145. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    “Where trigger warnings become a problem is when used to eliminate the speech of others.”

    They have the exact opposite effect.

    “Some students requested that a talk by Christina Sommers required trigger warnings.”
    I know nothing about this person. So… let’s assume, for a moment, that her talk should, in fact, carry a trigger warning. When the host provides such a warning, then… she is allowed to speak.

    It’s the “no trigger warning” side that infantilizes children. A trigger warning allows people to decide for themselves whether or not they want to see/hear/experience the event. No trigger warning says either “don’t worry, we’ll tone it down so nobody has a reason to complain” or “Sure, this might bother you, but we know better than you do whether you should experience it or not.”

    There is a small, but significant, number of people who are bothered by the fact that a movie about a ship sinking has a nude scene in it. What, exactly, is the harm in telling them that the movie about a sinking ship has boobies in it? The people who don’t care one way or the other about boobies, probably the largest group demographically, don’t care. A small number of fans of boobies might come to see the movie, hoping for boobies, and the group of people who don’t want to see pictures of boobies will stay away. Who is harmed by a warning “here there be boobies”?

    A small group of people (very small) actually need warnings about a fairly small number of subjects. A somewhat larger group of people don’t really need warnings, but will use them if they’re available. And the vast majority skipped entirely over the “trigger warnings” section of the syllabus to see when the midterm(s) will be.

  146. Donna August 19, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    “You can choose to delay or even completely forego buying a TV. You can have one custom made for you, to whatever specs you’d like, if you’re willing to pay a craftsman to do it for you at craftsman’s wages.. You chose not to do these things. It was your choice.”

    I can, but didn’t. Once I’ve made a choice, I am stuck with that choice. I can choose to return that choice for a different one in total, but I can’t demand that the entity that provided me with what I ultimately chose alter that choice to meet my personal specifications. Well, I can, but it is unlikely that my demands will be met.

    See nowhere in your completely pointless comment, did you provide for me to successfully demand that my chosen store must modify my chosen TV to the specs that I want. Nobody here is arguing that college students should not get to choose a college or classes offered within that college. Nobody is saying that college-aged people should not have the life option to not go to college or to delay college until a better time. Nobody is saying that a college student can’t choose to spend the money to hire private tutors to customize an education to be exactly as s/he wants.

    What we are saying is that once a person has made a choice to attend college, and made a choice to attend a specific college, and made a choice to take a specific class at that college, they have no more ability to demand that the class be modified to suit their specific wants than I have to demand that my chosen store alter my chosen TV to fit my specific wants. If they don’t like the specs of a certain class their options are basically to move to another class provider, buy a different class, buy no class or suck it up and live with their choice even if they don’t like everything about it.

  147. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    “I can, but didn’t. Once I’ve made a choice, I am stuck with that choice.”

    True enough. But you were claiming that you didn’t have any choice.

    “nowhere […] did you provide for me to successfully demand that my chosen store must modify my chosen TV to the specs that I want.”
    Because that’s not the claim I made.

    “What we are saying is that once a person has made a choice to attend college, and made a choice to attend a specific college, and made a choice to take a specific class at that college, they have no more ability to demand that the class be modified to suit their specific wants than I have to demand that my chosen store alter my chosen TV to fit my specific wants.”
    Let’s skip over the part that you’re conflating buying a good for buying a service. If you AND ENOUGH OTHER PEOPLE demand something, that demand will be met… by someone. Because that’s how capitalism works.

    Students demanding, or even just politely asking for, stuff like trigger warnings, is like a customer in the store who walks in to Burger King and asks for a Whopper, only without ketchup. It’s not at all like a customer in the store who walks in to Burger King, and asks for a roast duck l’orange.

  148. Donna August 19, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    “But you were claiming that you didn’t have any choice.”

    Nowhere did I make the claim.

    “Students demanding, or even just politely asking for, stuff like trigger warnings, is like a customer in the store who walks in to Burger King and asks for a Whopper, only without ketchup.”

    No, it is closer to a small number of customers demanding that Burger King must now only sell Whoppers with ketchup on the side because some people can’t handle ketchup on their burgers and those individuals should not have to specially order their Whoppers. My suggestion that the individual students who are affected simply talk to the teacher personally without the entire class being involved is far more like a customer ordering their own personal Whopper without ketchup.

  149. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    “No, it is closer to a small number of customers demanding that Burger King must now only sell Whoppers with ketchup on the side”

    It’s even more like a small number of customers demanding (or just politely asking) that Burger King make clear that, although a Whopper usually comes with ketchup, you can order one without. (which, of course, is something that Burger King already does, because… it’s not a big deal.)

  150. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Or, it’s even more like a bunch of customers demanding that Burger King tell people exactly what’s actually in a Whopper.

  151. Donna August 19, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    “Experienced teachers know when problems, if any, are likely to surface.”

    Experienced teachers know when problems are likely to arise with the average student’s ability to understand the material. Students outside the average are going to need to address their individual problems with the material with the professor privately. We don’t expect a teacher to have braille on the materials for every class in every year that she teaches on the off chance that one day she will have a blind student in her class. We expect the blind student to address with the teacher his specific needs if he has any.

    Likewise, experienced teachers know when emotional problems, if any, are going to arise with the average student. The average college student is not mentally ill. Mentally ill students – or even just students with an unusual sensitivity to certain things – need to address their individual sensitivities with the teacher personally and not expect the teacher to, of her own accord, solve the problem for them.

  152. Donna August 19, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    “Or, it’s even more like a bunch of customers demanding that Burger King tell people exactly what’s actually in a Whopper.”

    Actually it is more like a small number of customers extremely loudly demanding that Burger King try to guess what might affect their unusually sensitive stomachs and warn them that those things may exist in their Whopper.

  153. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    “Experienced teachers know when problems are likely to arise with the average student’s ability to understand the material.”
    Duh.

    “Students outside the average are going to need to address their individual problems with the material with the professor privately.”
    Duh.

    “We don’t expect a teacher to have braille on the materials for every class in every year that she teaches on the off chance that one day she will have a blind student in her class.”
    Duh. Unless the teacher works in a school for the blind. (duh.)

    “We expect the blind student to address with the teacher his specific needs if he has any.”
    Duh.

    “Likewise, experienced teachers know when emotional problems, if any, are going to arise with the average student.”
    Duh.

    “The average college student is not mentally ill.”
    (citation needed)

    “Mentally ill students – or even just students with an unusual sensitivity to certain things – need to address their individual sensitivities with the teacher personally”
    Depends.

    “not expect the teacher to, of her own accord, solve the problem for them.”
    Trigger warnings do not solve problems, and people who ask for (or even just make use of) trigger warnings do not expect them to solve problems. Trigger warnings are information. People make better decisions, as a general rule, when they have more information than when they have less information. People perform better analysis, in general, when they have more information than when they have less information.

  154. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 10:37 pm #

    “Actually it is more like a small number of customers extremely loudly demanding that Burger King try to guess what might affect their unusually sensitive stomachs and warn them that those things may exist in their Whopper.”

    It’s not at all like that.

    And that’s far enough off-topic.

  155. Kimberly August 19, 2015 at 11:19 pm #

    In the Army, in order to get licensed for the forklift and the 2 1/2 ton truck, we had to watch several videos of the Red Asphalt variety. Should I have been exempt from watching the videos because I would have found them disturbing?

    Also in the Army, I was ordered to set up several tents in which trauma surgeons would be working on sheep that had suffered traumatic brain injuries in a field hospital environment. Should I have been allowed to refuse a direct order because I was/am an animal rights supporter?

    So where does it all stop?

    Should a cocktail waitress be able to accept a job, then tell their boss they won’t work some of their shifts because the male review or the mud wrestling makes them uncomfortable?

    Should a medic be allowed to not treat a patient because cleaning up an incontinent patient makes them uncomfortable?

    What about the yellow card experiment? Should new recruits be allowed to hold up a card that requires the Drill Sergeants to give them a 10-minute break should they begin to feel stressed? It may seem extreme or unrelated, but some university organizations have started implementing “safe spaces” where stressed out students can go.

  156. James Pollock August 19, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    “In the Army, in order to get licensed for the forklift and the 2 1/2 ton truck, we had to watch several videos of the Red Asphalt variety.

    You should see the ones the AF has for people who are up for flightline access, or the training you get if you are training to handle ordnance. (True, AF Basic Training is totally wimpy compared to what the other services have. Rifle training totals about 6 or 7 hours, spread over two days, and then they take the rifles away and never give them back (for most) On the other hand, the AF gets most of the nukes.)

    The highlight is when the guest speaker guy comes to give the safety lecture. He was in a crash, was burned over about 65% of his body, and wants you to know how important it is to avoid FOD, because FOD can crash a plane.

    “Should I have been exempt from watching the videos because I would have found them disturbing?”
    Meh. Maybe, although not without affecting your future career.
    News of the Weird has a “classic” story about the “safety” video that is so horrible that it causes people to injure themselves recoiling from it, or from hitting their heads when they faint.

  157. Samwise August 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm #

    Honestly, James, we are never going to make any headway because you see education purely from a libertarian/capitalist perspective, whereas the rest of us see education as a distinct field that should not be treated like a regular capitalist enterprise.

    Maybe it is because I have lived abroad where college is entirely (or almost entirely) covered by the state, but I view education as something that is not the same as buying a meal at a restaurant. The point of education should be for the benefit of humanity as a whole, by training people to be able to both contribute to the world and to better navigate the world by learning more about it, and more about different topics and ideals. I think education, and being exposed to new ideas, and reading, are fundamental necessities in training a proper citizen of the world.

    I don’t view it as a commodity that should be tailored to a consumer’s ideal. I don’t view it as something to be undertaken flippantly. And I think others here feel the same way.

    For a teacher, I have to say I find it rather disturbing the way you categorize education as being something that should seek to mold itself to a consumer, and to be treated as just another purchase.

    What is most interesting about living abroad is the lack of the idea that “the customer is always right” and that customers also should expect to have things exactly how they want it when they want it. When I was a teen and college student and worked retail, I was expected to put up with all kinds of abuse from customers, and to bend over backwards to make them happy. Living abroad, clerks wouldn’t hesitate to put rude customers in their place, tell a customer they were being overly picky and unpragmatic, and they seemed to care little to none when a customer complained about a product or meal or whatever else not being exactly what they want or expect. I should also say that 9 times out of 10, the complaining customers were American tourists.

    I realize colleges are being run more and more like a business here, with too much money being spent on flashy things to make them more exciting or fun, all while professors see their wages and hours cut across the board, and more and more temporary/adjunct professors being used to avoide the benefits and pay that come with tenure. College is also becoming increasingly prohibitively expensive for students, with even many states schools being out of reach without going deeply into debt. You seem to embrace the corporate capitalism of America, and the ideal for colleges to follow that model rather than the idea as old as civilization itself that knowledge is a value unto itself that benefits mankind, not just as a way to make money.

    So we can argue back and forth all day, and it will get us no where, because you seem to think teaching should be nothing more than being a salesman, and schools as businesses selling a product, and the rest of us do not.

  158. Curious August 20, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    Hurts you? How?

  159. LVM August 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm #

    I think that asbestos- or lead-containing crayons are kind of a different category. It’s not being a helicopter parent to not want your child ingesting poisons (and kids do chew on crayons). The epidemic of lead poisoning in kids in the 70’s is not a good thing, and it’s entirely possible to raise a child free-range while also asking for all of us – adults and children – to not be exposed to poisons in our immediate environment.

    That said, I totally agree with the trigger warning nonsense and the helicoptering. I just don’t think that basic environmental protection and product safety should be in that category. Heck, I avoid asbestos and lead myself, and I’m not a kid. It’s just normal sanity.

  160. hineata August 20, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

    Um, Kimberly, not sure if you are still following this thread, but am just fascinated by the idea of operating on sheep. Was this some kind of experimental situation? Surely, because otherwise wouldn’t they just be put out of their misery and barbecued? Seriously. …

  161. Kimberly August 20, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    @hineata

    Actually, it was pretty horrifying and I’m thankful that, as a Combat Medic, I only had to set up the tents and not participate. The sheep were all shot in the head and then the surgeons would work on them. Basic animal testing methods which I have always been so against. This was 20 years ago, though.

  162. James Pollock August 20, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

    “I think education, and being exposed to new ideas, and reading, are fundamental necessities in training a proper citizen of the world.”
    Right there is a symptom of your problem… you’re confusing education and training. As my favorite instructor used to put it, roughly, “we educate people. We train animals and small children”. If society wants to invest in educating people (some do, and some do not) then it should have some say in how the process is accomplished. If the student is making the investment, then they should decide. And, of course, a free people should be able to decide for themselves what they learn, and what they don’t. Being exposed to new ideas is entirely optional. I am fairly strongly anti-conservative (which is not to say that I am a liberal, I self-identify as a centrist) but people who are conservative are free to be conservative, to reject any “new ideas” as inferior to the ones they already have, and to decline to seek them out. A substantial market exists for telling them exactly what they want to hear. I think it’s almost all wrong, but, amazingly, it seems some people disagree with me, which means they’re wrong, wrong, wrong… and yet they’re free to go on living their life thinking I’m the one who’s wrong. which they’re wrong about. Life goes on.

    “For a teacher, I have to say I find it rather disturbing the way you categorize education as being something that should seek to mold itself to a consumer, and to be treated as just another purchase. ”

    You’re free to believe that. I think you know the rest. OK, Seriously, you’re badly misunderstanding the point.
    Education is a collaborative endeavor between the teacher and the student(s). The student engages the teacher because they have some goal or goals they’d like to reach, which goals vary widely from student to student. Education isn’t a one-size fits all kind of deal. Different institutions adapt to serve the needs of their customers (the ones that don’t, don’t have customers). You won’t get the same product if you go to an elite, highly-selective school that you will in a large, state school, and vocational school is wildly different from both.

    Somewhere, there is an educator who thought I would gain something valuable by reading Ethan Frome. They were completely and totally wrong about that. There was an educator who thought I would benefit from reading Shakespeare, but only if the naughty bits were edited out first. A committee decided that all incoming Computer Science students starting in 1984 would be best served if they took all their first- and second- year computer science classes using Pascal as the computer language. Had they chosen C, instead (the vastly superior choice, and what they settled on only a few years later), I’d have a CS degree today instead of the liberal arts degree I switched to. What all these decisions have in common is the rank paternalism… “we know what’s best for you, and we’ve already decided for you.” Where else is that sort of thing acceptable? (OK, employement. But my employer gets to decide how I do things because they are paying me to do them… they are the customer.)

    Education should strive to give the student what the student wants, because that’s what’s going to happen anyway. I can offer my students the benefit of my accumulated knowledge. I can’t (and shouldn’t!) make them take it.

    “You seem to embrace the corporate capitalism of America, and the ideal for colleges to follow that model rather than the idea as old as civilization itself that knowledge is a value unto itself that benefits mankind, not just as a way to make money.”
    Boy, are you off track on this one. I suggest you find a good history that describes the extensive battle between Plato and the Philosophers, on the one hand, and the School of Rhetoric, on the other. This, more than anything else, explains how the divide between practical skills education (professional schools, like law or medicine, or such modern inventions as engineering school, business school, or even the college of science) against liberal arts on the other.

  163. James Pollock August 20, 2015 at 8:50 pm #

    “So we can argue back and forth all day, and it will get us no where, because you seem to think teaching should be nothing more than being a salesman, and schools as businesses selling a product, and the rest of us do not.”

    Kind of gutsy, claiming to speak for “the rest of us”.

    I’ve worked in both public-supported, general education schools, and private, for-profit, vocational school. Each has it’s own market and serves that market in it’s own way. The things that work for one market (that is, set of students) might be completely different from the things that work for another market (that is, set of schools). To argue that only one is correct and right and proper is simple-minded. Educate yourself.

  164. Kimberly August 20, 2015 at 10:42 pm #

    No matter how you cut it, college has been designed to be the bridge between childhood and adulthood. Schools are starting to require incoming freshman (most who will be living without their parents for the first time) to live on campus for their first year. Colleges are divided by departments so that students can pick the course load they feel will prepare them the best for their chosen career field. The general ed requirements are designed to give students a well-rounded education, allowing them to explore other areas, and to develop skills that will best serve them out in the “real world”. While on campus, students are expected to conduct themselves like responsible adults. Those that don’t face, punishments ranging from failing grades to expulsion.

    I never received a heads up when we watched “Glory” in high school, or “Soylent Green” in junior high, or “Old Yeller” in elementary school. When bad things happened, people buried their “dirty” secrets and suffered in silence. More times than not, victims were treated like they were at fault so they were reluctant to speak out. Teachers weren’t mandated reporters. Today, trauma doesn’t have the same stigma that it once had and society is getting much better at dealing with trauma. We have victim’s advocates and victim’s services in our justice system now for those that want help. Hell, therapy is practically a status symbol now.

  165. James Pollock August 20, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

    “Schools are starting to require incoming freshman (most who will be living without their parents for the first time) to live on campus for their first year.”

    This isn’t new, I had this requirement in 1984.

  166. Curious August 21, 2015 at 6:37 am #

    Has anyone had a chance to read WE BELIEVE THE CHILDREN about the roots of modern childhood and parental anxiety in the United States? Have you wondered why this is a phenomenon that is present in the USA, but not in other civilized countries?

    Richard Beck’s book has been reviewed to critical acclaim by all the biggies, including the WALL STREET JOURNAL.

    We cannot leave our fears behind until we call them by their proper names and know where they come from. Then we can.

    Check it out! It’s the DARK SIDE of American parenting–complete with cults and demons and brain washing.

  167. Samwise August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    Wow, just wow. Teaching critical thinking skills and exposing kids to a world larger than their own, and presenting them with factual information about how the world works is “training ” them? And you think kids and parents should dictate what they learn in school? Wow, the fact that you are a tea her is downright horrifying, with that level of anti intellectualism.

    You are right, people do have the right to shelter their kids from the world, to isolate and teach them that evolution is a lie from the devil, vaccinations are a conspiracy to give us autism, etc etc. They gave the right to do that by homeschooling or finding a private school that shares their ideology to restrict education to whatever remains inoffensive and unchallenging to the student. However, the idea that this should be the status quo is just mind boggling. Can you give an example of one nation or cult or other such closed society in which education was based on catering to what people want to hear rather than how the world works…and has turned out the better for it?

    Critical thinking skills are how people navigate the world in an independent, self assured.manner. and you don’t get those by rejecting new ideas. In fact, the parts of the country that feel this way are the parts of the country with the lowest ranked education ratings, and lowest educational and professional achievements. Parts of the country tey that do not operate by revising curriculum to suit cultural or ideological prejudices have the beat ranked education systems, and highest rates of educational and professional achievements. As well as having far lower rates of crime, poverty, teen pregnancy… Basically most social ills. Why would I want to abandon a highly educational successful model to cater to those who are the least successful in life? Yes, they have a right to being isolated and ignorant, but they do not have the right to make that a value that we embrace and encourage in our school systems.

    One thing you keep not addressing is that you aren’t advocating on behalf of actually needed kids, but on behalf of spoiled bullies who want to feign victimization to conteol people. Have you read the book Wonder? It is a best seller that has been widely embraced by organizations and disabled and chronically ill and disfigured children. Kids being served by these organizations love it. It is also beloved by anti bullying organizations. There is also a follow up eBook that goes well with it, “Julian’s Chapter.”

    It is about a boy, August, with a severe facial-crainal abnormality that leaves his face severely disfigured and has required he spent most of his life in hospitals getting painful surgeries or recovering from them. He is finally well enough to start school for the first time, fifth grade. As you can expect, midle school is not kind to a kid like that. But our hero does not run away, does not seek to live.in a controlled environment that caters to his pain, his trauma, which is severe. He wants to be a normal kid who can deal with life and the world and learning new, scary things. Sometimes that means he gets hurt, and he suffers. And it is awful. But in the end he is happier to really embrwve the world.

    In the other side is his bully. This is a child who suffers from anxiety and who had a history of chronic, bad nightmares. Seeing this disfigured boy makes his nightmares come back. His mother is very upset that her son is being triggered. Other parents talk to their scared children about August and help them learn to accept him and get over his frightening appearance, even though it is hard for them and upsetting. But Julian’s mother thinks kids are too young and fragile to have to be able to deal with these challenges, and her main point of contention is that her son is a victim who is being triggered by having to go to school with the other boy. The other kids slowly start to adapt to August. It is difficult and doesn’t happen overnight. But they not only become comfortable, they grow to like him. They aren’t just unafraid of him, they like him! Julian, on the other hand, is resentful of the fact he is being faced with triggering situations and expects to not have to learn to deal with them, because that is what his parents taught him. He starts bullying the boy worse and worse, trying to turn other kids againat him in the process. school, but his parents are defiant. His behavior is found out by the school, and his parents excuse it because they, he was triggered. He can’t handle it and he can’t help it. In fact, it is wrong for any of the students to be exposed to such a frightening looking child which scares the crap out of them. This is not portrayed positively, by the way.

    I wonder why it is that this book has been so embraced by kids who have some of the toughest lives and moat trauma to deal with, and their parents, when the trigger warnings are portrayed as bad things that encourage entitled bullies to attacj not just speech but people who upset them, while having to cope with difficulties in school that kids have to overcome is embraced?

  168. Samwise August 21, 2015 at 8:58 am #

    Also James, what you are suggesting is actually what is training. You are training kids to be ignorant bigots who are hostile to anything that falls outside their world view. You know that song from South Pacific, about how you aren’t born to hate, you have to be carefully taught? Well what you are suggesting is how to teach them to hate. Just like the parents in the book “Wonder.” They taught their kid that he had the right to avoid things that upset him, and if he was unexpectedly upset, he was a victim. One of their biggest points of contention is that the school did not warn parents that August would be attending, so not only were the kids frightened by him, they weren’t given forwarning about it. They taught their kid that he should have the right to not have to deal with triggering, scary things, and August was triggering and scary, so he started to bully and abuse him, because he thought of himself as August’s victim. He was trained to think that way, and it made him hate.

  169. James Pollock August 21, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    “Wow, just wow. Teaching critical thinking skills and exposing kids to a world larger than their own, and presenting them with factual information about how the world works is “training ” them?”
    WTF? Where did you get this from?

    “And you think kids and parents should dictate what they learn in school?”
    More WTF? This isn’t like anything I said, either.

    “Wow, the fact that you are a tea her is downright horrifying, with that level of anti intellectualism.”
    I’m anti-intellectual? Clearly, you have me confused with somebody else.

    Skimming the rest of the wall o’ text, it becomes obvious that you are talking about somebody else. Here’s a hint…you go on and on about what I said about “kids”… college students aren’t kids. Depending on which sector of the educational system you’re tlaking about, the students may be older than the instructor. (For example, the average age of students in the community education system (public 2-year schools, known as “junior colleges” or “community colleges”) is about 35, and average age in some parts of vocational education is even higher (because the students are drawn from mid-career adults who want to learn a new career path.) These “kids” don’t need your patronizing help to learn how to become critical thinkers.

    You need to master critical thinking and reading comprehension before you lecture others on these subjects.
    Or don’t, and continue to ramble like a fool. Your choice, really.

  170. Samwise August 21, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Another point; I work at a cancer hospital, as I said. You see all kinds of families in these situations. You see the spouses and parents who will do what it takes to support their family. They will empty their loved one’s colostomy bag, drain the pus out of their sores, find ways to deal with and support a loved one who is unable to care for themselves and whose body needs a lot of unsavory caring. They care for that loved one when they are getting brain radiation, or chemotherapy which skews their thinking and makes them difficult and frustrating to understand, communicate with.

    Then there are the spouses and parents who say they just can’t deal with it. It’s too hard. They get divorces and leave their spouse to die alone. They give their children up to be cared for by the state. They just can’t deal with it, it’s too unsavory, too disruptive to their lives. These are typically people who have been very spoiled and sheltered and not taught to deal with adversity. So they abandon their family.

    Again, of course people have the right to raise their kids that way, to be weak and selfish and ignorant and incapable of helping others or dealing with challenges. But to portray that as a positive thing, that we should respect, and allow to carry over into schools that aren’t run by fundamentalist cults?

    I will give another example, from when I lived in the Netherlands. They do not respect your fear of boobies, and think people should be given the opportunity to avoid them. There is nudity in advertising, at spas, on beaches. People regularly do not close their curtains when changing. Kids are taught compulsory sex education starting in literally kindergarden. They don’t teach them everything at once, of course, but gradually over time, with different levels of instruction as the get more mature. The kids are taught about human anatomy and sex in a realistic way. They not only see boobies, but vaginas and penises! By the way, my school in the States did the same thing. No one asked our parents for permission to show us slides of penises. This was taught as a compulsory part of health education. We weren’t allowed to opt out of it, we had tests on it that counted towards our overall grades. In the Netherlands, though, that is the standard across the board. They consider desensitizing kids to 1. the human body and 2. sexual issues is an essentia part of education. If parents don’t like this, they have to find alternative schooling options. They are not given a choice.

    And guess what? The Netherlands has the lowest rate of teen pregnancy in the world. They have the lowest rate of abortion in the world. They have one of the lowest rates of STDs and sexual assaults in the world. Kids actually wait until LATER than American teens to have sex for the first time, and most of them report that their first sexual experience was positive, and something they did with someone they loved after a lot of serious thought in the matter.

    They have had a problem with some (not most, a small minority) of immigrants from restrictive Muslim cultures in which they were taught that they should not have to be exposed to such things against their will. This has created a problem with these immigrants beating up gays or women who aren’t covered up, vandalizing or burning down establishments that allow nudity, etc.

    So I ask you again, James, why should I stop endorsing what is the most successful method of creating a society in which kids are well adjusted, responsible, and empathetic, and instead embrace your methods, methods that cause people to hit a gay couple with a tire iron because they have been trained to think they have a right to not be offended or uncomfortable?

  171. James Pollock August 21, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    “Also James, what you are suggesting is actually what is training.”

    Training is when you use conditioning to produce a desired behavior. Like teaching a dog to bark at the door when it needs to empty its bladder.

    “What I’m suggesting” is that adults should be given information, so that they may exercise their own judgment about how they want to proceed. I’m not sure how the idea of treating people (note: adult people. College students, with rare exceptions, are adults) as if they’re capable of making their own decisions about their lives, morphed into whatever it was that you were ranting about, but it has, and that’s left you arguing with yourself. .

  172. James Pollock August 21, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    BTW, you’re aware that the example you give (Netherlands sex-ed) is an example of “my way” of educating, right? The students are given information to help them make a decision about themselves. I’ll take your glowing support of the results as vindication that “my way” of educating is clearly better, and walk away, after dropping the mic.

  173. Samwise August 21, 2015 at 3:30 pm #

    “Youu’re confusing education and training. As my favorite instructor used to put it, roughly, “we educate people. We train animals and small children”. If society wants to invest in educating people (some do, and some do not) then it should have some say in how the process is accomplished. If the student is making the investment, then they should decide. And, of course, a free people should be able to decide for themselves what they learn, and what they don’t. Being exposed to new ideas is entirely optional.”

    No, I am not confusing you with someone else. This is you saying that teaching kids critical thinking and exposing them to new things is “training” them, because that is what o advocate and what you here describe as training.

    Also…how is this endorsing the Dutch model in which kids and parents do not have the freedom of what to learn in school, but are in fact forced to learn sexual education whether their parents don’t like it or not? Unless of course they opt out of schooling entirely and are home schooled. You said kids should be allowed to opt out of lessons they and/or their parents are uncomfortable with. You said You also say being exposed to new things is optional when over there it isn’t. They don’t force people to cover up nudity because others don’t want to exposed to it, inclyou’re confusing education and training. As my favorite instructor used to put it, roughly, “we educate people. We train animals and small children”. If society wants to invest in educating people (some do, and some do not) then it should have some say in how the process is accomplished. If the student is making the investment, then they should decide. And, of course, a free people should be able to decide for themselves what they learn, and what they don’t. Being exposed to new ideas is somethinf they refuse to treat aa a eighr and protect people from. They force everyone else to deal with nudity and don’t care that people are being exposed to things they don’t like.

    I describe the Dutch model which is the exact opposite of your postition, in that they reject people having a “right” to dictate their lessons plans or be protected from new, uncomfortable things. You then claim that this is what you endorse and their model actually proves you right. How is their having the exact opposite philosophy to you and succeeding proving you right? You said you do NOT approve of educating people if they don’t want to be educated, even if they are in an educational setting where that is the entire point.

  174. Samwise August 21, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    “BTW, you’re aware that the example you give (Netherlands sex-ed) is an example of “my way” of educating, right? The students are given information to help them make a decision about themselves. I’ll take your glowing support of the results as vindication that “my way” of educating is clearly better, and walk away, after dropping the mic.”

    That isn’t what you advocated. You advocated people being allowed to select *what* information they receive, so that they can feel personally validated, regardless of of their lack of information results in them being ignorant and incapable of making informed decisions.

    Telling someone “we are going to learn about X, if you don’t want to learn about X, you are free to skip this part of the coursework” is not educating them. It is allowing them to opt out of education, even if that education would have been instrumental in them making informed decisions… Rather than decisions made out of ignorance because they opted out of the part of class that would have provided them with an actual well rounded education and not cherry picked selections that suit their delicate sensibilities.

    You are a teacher, filled with arrogance, yet you don’t know the difference between information and not knowledge? Telling a person “this is what we are learning today, but you don’t have to do it” is information, but it isn’t knowledge that actually educates them and makes them better informed. All it is is informing them they have the right to forgot knowledge and NOT be educated.

  175. James Pollock August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    “No, I am not confusing you with someone else. This is you saying that teaching kids critical thinking and exposing them to new things is “training” them, because that is what o advocate and what you here describe as training. ”

    I see that you just are not very good at this “critical thinking” you keep talking about. Training is what you do to dogs, because you don’t want them peeing on the carpet. Ditto very small children children. We educate people. Not sure what “critical thinking” has to do with it. Tell me more about “what I advocate”, as I am clearly unfamiliar with it. Dogs are not people. Neither are very small children (yet.) (Note for the humorless… this is humor.) Once they become people, they are no longer suitable candidates for “training”.

    And… the topic under discussion is what we should give to college students. College students are adults, and the ones that aren’t have earned the right to be considered adults.. Not sure why you continue to insist on bringing children into the discussion.

    “Also…how is this endorsing the Dutch model in which kids and parents do not have the freedom of what to learn in school, but are in fact forced to learn sexual education whether their parents don’t like it or not?”
    All right, one more time for those poor at critical thinking, more slowly this time.
    Whether or not to engage in sexual behavior is a thoroughly personal decision, and the right answer for one person may or may not be the right answer for another. Ultimately, it is a decision that each person must make for themself. It is better to make a decision with more information than with less information. Decisions made with less information are more likely to be poor or lead to unsatisfactory results. So… the Dutch (by your account) provide more information to the students before they make this important decision. The Dutch populace (by your account) are better served by this choice. To repeat, again for the benefit of the slow, in the Dutch model, they give more information to people, so they can decide for themselves what they want to do. Some choose one way, some another, but all make informed choices.
    So, how does apply to the subject at hand? What I advocate (note: Please substitute this for whatever fantasy it is you keep attributing to me) is that university students should get more information, in advance, to assist their decision-making process.
    See if you can follow along. The pieces are “adults”, “personal decision”, “more information” and “in advance”. Nothing about children. Nothing about training. Nothing about refusing to teach critical thinking (you supplied all three to the discussion.)

    ” You said kids should be allowed to opt out of lessons they and/or their parents are uncomfortable with.”
    No, I didn’t. Nothing about kids. And, having already pointed this out twice, I don’t this time will work, either.

    “You said You also say being exposed to new things is optional when over there it isn’t.”
    You then go on to quote what I ACTUALLY said, which is “If society wants to invest in educating people (some do, and some do not) then it should have some say in how the process is accomplished.”
    If this is an example of the critical thinking skills you were taught in school, that school failed you.

    “I describe the Dutch model which is the exact opposite of your postition”
    No, you describe the Dutch model which is in complete accord of my position, as was pointed out to you previously. It is in opposition to the argument that’s in your head, with my name on it, but which has actually nothing to do with me. Helpful hint for future use: When you have to tell people what they’re advocating because they don’t know what you’re talking about, this *may* be a sign that you are not, in fact, accurately describing what they advocate. Bonus helpful hint: When they point out that what you’re telling them they’re advocating isn’t even close to what they’re advocating, telling them they’re wrong about what they’re advocating is rarely, if ever, the correct approach.

    “You said you do NOT approve of educating people if they don’t want to be educated”
    Nope. I’m saying it can’t be done, and trying to do it is a waste of time, only worthwhile if the effort is providing benefit or at least possible benefit to others. Take, for example, my effort to educate YOU, here, and now. You’re not interested, and you’re not learning anything.

    “That isn’t what you advocated.”
    It’s EXACTLY what I advocated.
    http://www.freerangekids.com/from-baby-knee-pads-to-trigger-warnings-how-helicoptered-kids-become-hypersensitive-college-students/#comment-381597

    “You advocated people being allowed to select *what* information they receive, so that they can feel personally validated, regardless of of their lack of information results in them being ignorant and incapable of making informed decisions.”
    No, I pointed out that some people will choose to be ignorant, and will make bad decisions because of it, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Describing what is, and advocating for it… two different things.

    “Telling someone “we are going to learn about X, if you don’t want to learn about X, you are free to skip this part of the coursework” is not educating them. It is allowing them to opt out of education, even if that education would have been instrumental in them making informed decisions…”
    It’s their choice to make. Just like if they have to miss class because they have to work late, or because their kid’s sick, or they’re sick, or their car’s broken down, or any of thousands of other reasons why a college student might not be in class. They’re adults, capable of deciding for themselves if they need to be somewhere else, for whatever reason. My job is to provide them with the information they need to make this decision… not make it for them.

    “You are a teacher”
    I’m an IT administrator. I used to be an instructor.

    “you don’t know the difference between information and not knowledge?”
    Sure I do. “information” is what I have. “not knowledge” is what you have.

    “Telling a person “this is what we are learning today, but you don’t have to do it” is information”
    Once again, you seem to have confused my position with someone else’s. In my class, if you miss time, for whatever reason, you are responsible for making up what you missed. This is part of the information I provided to my students at the beginning of class so they could decide if my class was the right one for them. Gee, it’s almost like providing people information they need to make decisions is something I advocate or something.

    “it isn’t knowledge that actually educates them and makes them better informed.”
    Actually, it is. You just literally argued that giving people information doesn’t make them informed. Not a positive reflection on your education.

    “All it is is informing them they have the right to forgot knowledge and NOT be educated.”
    Yes. Better to learn that at the start of the class, when they can still drop the class and get their money back, and the seat can be given to someone who values what is being offered.

  176. Robbin August 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    Great article

  177. julie5050 August 21, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    There is also a rise in college age students who are suffering from Dunning-Kruger effect. It is a cognitive condition where people cannot self evaluate and feel they are special and better at everything than everybody else.

  178. Donny August 27, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    Microaggressions are not about a person being attacked, so much as they are about the aggressor not being an ass. It isn’t a knee jerk stance against perceived slights. It is a cultural shift towards not accepting racism, sexism, or any discrimination even in an innocent or “micro” form. It is the difference between the language older people would use (perhaps saying “those people,” or “them” when talking about a minority for example, or perhaps not being cognoscente that not all families can afford to take a vacation, or can go out to eat, and yes even asking someone where are you from in bad context). Look at it this way, instead of calling it a microaggression call it being a jerk. Kids today don’t let you get away with being jerk on racial, gender, and economic issues. Essentially this so called trend, it isn’t a trend it is here to stay, is in fact the younger generation not accepting an older mindset. It is about not accepting casual discrimination, intended or not. Good pop culture examples would be Sheldon’s mom from the Big Bang Theory (http://bigbangtheory.wikia.com/wiki/Mary_Cooper) as compared to the website Yo Is This Racist (http://yoisthisracist.com/)..

  179. Josh August 28, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    There is a really bizarre conflation going on here. Trigger warnings are intended to help victims of serious trauma know there is a potential for re-activating that trauma in the text they’re presented with. Then they can make an informed choice about whether or not to read it.

    A rape victim who doesn’t want to read a first-person account of a rape for class isn’t being thin-skinned, helicopter-parented, or whatever. She (or he) has experienced real trauma, and it isn’t anyone else’s place to tell them how to feel about the trauma.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with kneepads, helmets, or the pussification of America, or whatever nonsense you’re on about. It certainly has nothing to do with censoring topics for everyone because some namby-pamby kid doesn’t want to talk about it.

    It’s about whether you have the right to plunge someone back into trauma they’ve experienced without so much as a heads-up.

  180. Puzzled August 30, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    >“Some students requested that a talk by Christina Sommers required trigger warnings.”
    I> know nothing about this person. So… let’s assume, for a moment, that her talk should, in fact, carry a trigger >warning. When the host provides such a warning, then… she is allowed to speak.

    The purpose of demanding these warnings, and providing a “safe room” was not at all about protecting those with PTSD who might be impacted by the speech. The purpose was to send a message that her views, because they are not in line with the Gawker/Tumblr style of feminism, are not acceptable, dangerous, and should not be taken seriously. That’s why it was shutting down free speech.