I recently came across an article in the New York Times that left me slack-jawed.
It seems there is a growing movement at major universities across the country to require “trigger alerts” to warn students that the academic materials they’re about to ingest may upset them. World History classes, for instance, might come with a caution about subject matter relating to death, destruction, enslavement and torture.
Examples given by the Times are more specific: Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn contains racist themes; books and classes on Greek Mythology and ancient works of art may display sexually explicit pictures, drawings and statues.
Students who support these academic admonitions say some people, rape victims or war veterans for example, might find some materials to be particularly traumatic. That’s possible but you can’t whitewash the lessons learned from painful experience and research for the sake of the few who have more personal issues to deal with.
Somewhat surprisingly, to me at least, the people most opposed to the idea seem to be the teachers at these schools. According to the Times:
The debate has left many academics fuming, saying that professors should be trusted to use common sense and that being provocative is part of their mandate. Trigger warnings, they say, suggest a certain fragility of mind that higher learning is meant to challenge, not embrace.
I think our chickens have come home to roost.
Some years ago we stopped keeping score of little league and youth soccer games so as not to distinguish winners from losers.
Some schools don’t allow teachers to use red ink in grading papers because it might be too stressful for our children to be told their work was less than perfect.
We hand out trophies to everybody or nobody and a decade or two ago schools began passing out those “My child is an honor student at Foonman Elementary” bumper stickers to every kid in the school because we didn’t want to hurt the non-honor roll students’ feelings.
Those kids are now in college and they expect to be protected.
God help them when they are forced to live in the real world.