Taking a break from retail for a bit to comment on a fascinating book I just finished reading: The Coddling of the American Mind:How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, copyright 2018 by Penguin Press. If you have been as perplexed as I have been about some goings on at college campuses in the last few years, the book provides some explanations.
I retired from a private college in 2001 and after that worked in a large public community college. The last year I taught in the private college, an irate parent came into my workplace and began yelling at me about a grade I had given her absentee daughter. Because the girl had not handed in a paper, I had given her an F. This had been my practice for 25 years. But what had never happened to me before was to have a parent confront me about it. I was truly startled as I couldn’t fathom why a parent was involved. Worse yet, the administration didn’t support me, but asked me to give the girl a D for her final grade rather than the F she deserved. I replied that in that case, I would raise every other student’s grade one level so that they got the same treatment she was getting. As it turned out, before I had to do that, all the other teachers failed her, so my grade was in line with the others.
But Lukianoff and Haidt introduced me to the concept of the “fragile college student,” long protected from distress by her parents. And they introduced me to the concept now held by many college administrators that the student is a consumer, not the learner that the professors assume.