Book Review of “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure”

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There can be little doubt that students entering our colleges and universities for the past several years are traveling to the beat of a different drum. For the most part, many of these young men and women are developmentally challenged in several ways. Their stunted growth is the result of their parent’s upbringing; the students have been coddled by their parents, trained to fear anyone outside of their immediate circles, prohibited from engaging in creative thinking, stopped from normal play activities, subjected to increased study activities following a typical school day (even at the kindergarten level), denied opportunities to explore their neighborhoods without adult supervision (lest they are kidnapped), and the list goes on.

The authors explore the negative impact of obsessive “screen time” (I-phones, computers, etc.) use and the pitfalls of social media where (especially girls) are instantly judged and scored.

All of these factors have to lead to record increases in reported cases of high anxiety, depression, impatience, intolerance, fragility, and a willingness to harshly judge others who they unreasonably deem to be threatening. These so-called “I-gen” teenagers formulate a culture where it is a  “us against them” mentality—there is no middle ground. Speakers at their colleges who express ideologies different from these students are attacked and forced off of college campuses. Members of their group are “called out” and shunned if they deviate from the perspectives of the group. Even liberal professors who write or say something that even slightly hints at a philosophy different from the group are attacked. Administrators often take the coddled students side out of fear—indeed, some college officials regard students as customers and design cushy and exotic surroundings for students—colleges are in the money business—officials also live in constant fear of lawsuits.

Authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt write a book that defines the issues and problems of the I-gen and offer possible solutions. Great book.

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