by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column follows developments in higher education since a highly publicized 2015 article titled “The Coddling of the American Mind.”
In 2015, Greg Lukianoff (president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) and Jonathan Haidt (professor of ethical leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business) wrote an article for The Atlantic entitled “The Coddling of the American Mind.” In that article, the authors argued that students (college but also pre-college) increasingly react to words, books, images, and speakers with fear and anger because they’ve been taught to exaggerate danger, to let their emotions rule, and to engage in binary thinking.
It proved to be one of the most read and discussed articles ever published by the magazine.
Now Lukianoff and Haidt have expanded on that article with a book entitled The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure. …
… The root of the problem, argue Lukianoff and Haidt, is that parents, teachers, professors and college administrators have been leading young people to believe Three Great Untruths.
The first of those is, as they call it, the Untruth of Fragility. That is the idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker, and therefore young people must be protected against everything from a stray peanut to hearing any “hateful” ideas. …
… The second great untruth is that you should trust and follow your emotions. Emotions frequently get in the way of sound reasoning, but young people are often told that because they feel that something is true, then it really is true. …
… And third is the Us Versus Them Untruth—the erroneous view that the world is divided into good people and evil people. You need to side with the Good and battle the Evil.