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Coddled Children Grow up Self-Disruptive

September 19, 2018 | By | 1 Reply More
Coddled Children Grow up Self-Disruptive

In The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, Attorney Greg Lukianoff (founder of FIRE) and moral psyhchologist Jonathan Haidt address America’s mushrooming inability to engage in productive civil discourse. Increasing numbers of people are claiming that they cannot cope with ideas that challenge their own world view. They sometimes claim that ideas that challenge their own ideas are “not safe.” In dozens of well-publicized cases, rather than work to counteract “bad” ideas with better ideas, they work to muzzle speaker by disrupting presentations or even running the purportedly offensive speakers off campus.

There is a related and growing problem. We cannot talk with each other at all regarding many many important issues. We shout each other down and use the heckler’s veto. These maladies are especially prominent on some American college campuses, but these problems are also rapidly spreading to the country at large, including corporate America.

Consider this 2016 example featuring the students of Yale having a “discussion” with Professor Nicholas Christakis:

You would never guess it from this video alone, but this mass-meltdown was triggered after child development specialist Erika Christakis (wife of Nicholas), sent this email to students.?This incident at Yale is one of many illustrations offered by Haidt and Lukianoff as evidence of a disturbing trend. ?Here’s another egregious example involving?Dean Mary Spellman at Claremont McKenna College who was run out of her college after committing the sin of writing this email to a student. ?More detail here.?

The authors offer this as the genesis of the overall problem:

In years past, administrators were motivated to create campus speech codes in order to curtail what they deemed to be racist or sexist speech. Increasingly, however, the rationale for speech codes and speaker disinvitations was becoming medicalized: Students claimed that certain kinds of speech—and even the content of some books and courses—interfered with their ability to function. They wanted protection from material that they believed could jeopardize their mental health by “triggering” them, or making them “feel unsafe.”

The solution offered by Lukianoff and Haidt is to take a moment to stop to recognize what they call the “Three Bad Ideas.”

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Three Important Questions to Ask

January 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

Michael Mulligan, head of Thatcher School, presents the three most important question we can ask teenagers. Excellent questions, and we should ask these to adults too:

Who tells us who we are?
Where do we want to go with our lives?
How do we want to get there?

Question one is important because forces are lined up (internet, television, movies, advertising, just for starters) that tell us who we are is not about how hard we work, how curious we are, or how much we are willing to make a positive difference to others and to our world in distress. No, these forces say: You are what you wear, what you buy, how thin or buff you are, how many like you (on Facebook or anything else) – or for the elite college bound crowd – where you go to college. When we focus on the wrong things, we create these conditions for monumental cynicism in our kids. Our children need to learn that they are important not for reasons of appearance but for reasons of substance.

Question two is important because if we believe that the only thing that matters is college and job status then how can we not end up frustrated, angry, and lonely? Where we want to go with our lives is intrinsically linked to the question of what leads us to fulfillment and happiness? For most of us the answer is passion. We all know we are in the right jobs when how long we work at something is driven by interest and not only about earning a paycheck. The truth is that we are all going to have to work hard to succeed in life, and if that is the case, let’s us at least try to work hard on things that matter and that we care about.

Question three may be the most important because how we get anywhere is as critical as where we end up. Kids cheat in school because they think grades are more important than what they learn. They take short-cuts because they believe the longer, harder path has no value or because they are afraid of stumbling or of being seen as someone who stumbles. They are mean or cruel or uncaring often because they do not like themselves; they feel they cannot make the grade that will earn them a spot at That College. They begin to see others as competitors for those spots – not as fellow-journeyers. Diminished self-respect skulks alongside little respect for others. No one wins.

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The stress children put on a marriage

May 18, 2016 | By | Reply More

The happily ever after trope goes something like this: ?Love, marriage, children, happiness. ? However, that is not what the statistics show. ?“Parents often become more distant and businesslike with each other as they attend to the details of parenting.” ?The source of this sad passage is “Decades of Studies Show What Happens to Marriages After Having Kids,” in Fortune Magazine. The statistics show that having children drives a married couple?apart more than it brings them more closely together:

The irony is that even as the marital satisfaction of new parents declines, the likelihood of them?divorcing also declines. So, having children may make you miserable, but you’ll be miserable together.

Worse still, this decrease in marital satisfaction likely leads to a change in?general?happiness, because the biggest?predictor of overall life satisfaction?is one’s satisfaction with their spouse.

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On raising children

June 22, 2015 | By | Reply More

Eric Barker’s advice has been excellent – on point, succinct and loaded with links to research.

His recent post on how to raise children is no exception. Here’s an excerpt advocating for mealtime conversations:

A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems.Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.

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Early Racism

October 21, 2014 | By | Reply More
Early Racism

They were marched into the classroom, single file, and lined up along the blackboard to face the roomful of white faces. It would be sheerest invention to say I remember everything about that day. The only things I recall had to do with questions about how my own situation was about to change.

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Scouts and Honor and Fair

Scouts and Honor and Fair

My relationship with the Boy Scouts of America was not the most pleasant.? I was an oddity, to be sure.? I think I was at one time the only—only—second class scout to be a patrol leader. Second class.? For those who may not have been through the quasi-military organization, the way it was structured in […]

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Schadenfreude run amok

November 11, 2012 | By | Reply More

Jimmy Kimmel’s idea was simple. Convince your small child that you ate all of his or her Halloween candy while they were sleeping, and videotape their reaction.

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The risks of pee wee football

June 24, 2012 | By | Reply More
The risks of pee wee football

It turns out that’s playing pee wee football comes with some risk of concussions. Until recently, many people assumed that those little bodies couldn’t muster blows hard enough to cause concussions. New research data is now in.

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The provocative cover of Time Magazine

May 10, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
The provocative cover of Time Magazine

I was surprised to see the cover of the most recent Time Magazine: an attractive young woman breast-feeding her 3-year old boy, who is standing on a chair to reach her breast, wearing army fatigues. I’m not shocked or disturbed in the least by the breastfeeding. There is nothing wrong with public breast-feeding. The subject of the main article, Attachment Parenting, does intrigue me, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

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