What happens when an entire generation becomes unable or unwilling to engage in ideas they deem uncomfortable or inappropriate? What happens when educators perpetuate that same reluctance by “protecting” their students from disruptive debate? You get a docile public friendly to totalitarian control. So argues author Jonathan Haidt in The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.
Just as Allan Bloom’s seminal 1987 work The Closing of the American Mind sounded an alarm that America’s universities, by teaching moral relativism, were creating a generation incapable of exercising the kind of critical judgement essential to democracy, so Haidt and co-author Greg Lukianoff illuminate the destructive consequences of what they call ‘safetyism’—the prevailing campus culture of today that stifles free inquiry by criminalizing unpopular ideas. The book examines three ‘Great Untruths’ that it says now govern higher education: The untruth of fragility (“what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker”); the untruth of emotional reasoning (“always trust your feelings”); and the untruth of us-versus-them (“life is a battle between good people and evil people”).
Join us on May 21 as Jonathan Haidt deconstructs these and other falsehoods and makes his anti-coddling case.