Trigger Warnings: The internet is full of them

A great friend of mine recently sent me this article from The Atlantic.  While the article was published almost a year ago, it still rings true today and more than frightens me.  The article, “The Coddling of the American Mind” speaks of the fact that college students are progressively demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like, “in the name of emotional well-being.”

As educators is it our responsibility to teach students that the rest of the world is not constantly looking out for their well-being?  By becoming overly vigilant and accepting of this movement are we not perpetuating the problem of a culture that becomes offended by everything and thus demanding more coddling?  As the authors of the article put it, “The thin argument “I’m offended” becomes an unbeatable trump card. This leads to what Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at this magazine, calls the “offendedness sweepstakes,” in which opposing parties use claims of offense as cudgels. In the process, the bar for what we consider unacceptable speech is lowered further and further.”

In the world of EdTech, this issue has the potential to become an educational nightmare.  At what point do we put an end to this?  Once we can’t use Google because it triggers negative emotions from childhood searches? Once the internet is off-limits because it is full of harmful words?  Once schools can’t read Huckleberry Finn because learning about the past is too tragic?  Oh, that already happened…

My friend Sara ended our conversation with this fitting quote from Tolkien,

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Let’s please be careful of this slope we are sliding down.  At the very least, could we stop waxing the slide?

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