The Coddling of the American Mind
A timely investigation into the campus assault on free speech and what it means for students, education, and our democracy.The generation now coming of age has been taught three Great Untruths: their feelings are always right; they should avoid pain and discomfort; and they should look for faults in others and not themselves. These three Great Untruths are part of a larger philosophy that sees young people as fragile creatures who must be protected and supervised by adults. But despite the good intentions of the adults who impart them, the Great Untruths are harming kids by teaching them the opposite of ancient wisdom and the opposite of modern psychological findings on grit, growth, and antifragility. The result is rising rates of depression and anxiety, along with endless stories of college campuses torn apart by moralistic divisions and mutual recriminations.This is a book about how we got here. First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt take us on a tour of the social trends stretching back to the 1980s that have produced the confusion and conflict on campus today, including the loss of unsupervised play time and the birth of social media, all during a time of rising political polarization. This is a book about how to fix the mess. The culture of “safety” and its intolerance of opposing viewpoints has left many young people anxious and unprepared for adult life, with devastating consequences for them, for their parents, for the companies that will soon hire them, and for a democracy that is already pushed to the brink of violence over its growing political divisions. Lukianoff and Haidt offer a comprehensive set of reforms that will strengthen young people and institutions, allowing us all to reap the benefits of diversity, including viewpoint diversity. This is a book for anyone who is confused by what’s happening on college campuses today, or has children, or is concerned about the growing inability of Americans to live and work and cooperate across party lines.

The Coddling of the American Mind Details

TitleThe Coddling of the American Mind
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 17th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Press
Rating
GenrePsychology, Politics, Nonfiction, Education, Philosophy, Sociology, Parenting

The Coddling of the American Mind Review

  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very narrow and small-minded book parading as a big thoughtful one. It says it is about the American Mind, but the data and the theory only support "the coddling" of a very narrow subset of the American mind: upper middle class college kids born after 1995 that got to college in 2013. As far as that group is concerned, this is really good advice. I totally agree with his three untruths--your feelings are not necessarily true, the world is not good and evil, and adversity does not make This is a very narrow and small-minded book parading as a big thoughtful one. It says it is about the American Mind, but the data and the theory only support "the coddling" of a very narrow subset of the American mind: upper middle class college kids born after 1995 that got to college in 2013. As far as that group is concerned, this is really good advice. I totally agree with his three untruths--your feelings are not necessarily true, the world is not good and evil, and adversity does not make you weak. I also agree that children need lots of free play and that social media is bad for kids and they are over-protected. There is nothing to disagree with here (even though I sometimes chafe at "when we were kids..." arguments)HOWEVER, using this group's specific problems, the authors make vast over-generalizations. The few anecdotes highlighted are meant to be examples of a deeper problem, but to me, they are the sum total of the problem. Left leaning students are behaving very badly toward conservative speakers. At most, there are 10 or so highly publicized events that seem to play on a loop among conservatives and intellectual dark web types. And there are no defenses to these behaviors, but it hardly represents our nation. And they provide no data whatsoever that it does. It's too soon to even tell that the next generation will be like this one.And for people who seem to care a lot about both sides arguments, they seem to leave out a lot of counter-examples. Here are a few: 1. They talk about the metoo movement once in the beginning. Is that not a product of this "call out" generation? None of us "old" women had the "balls" to speak truth to power like these young women do. Good for them.2. And the Parkland teens and all the ways in which this generation is more compassionate and engaged than we were. My generation (I'm 40) thought it was cool not to care about anything. My middle school kid stays up after school making protest signs and watching political debates. Is that not progress?3. The authors also focuses on one particular subset of an entire generation (left-leaning, and mostly women and LGBT or Trans students asking for safe spaces). They leave out that Gamergate and the trolls and the alt right are also made up of this generation. Why not talk about them at all? Seriously. They are literally the same age and except for one aside in the entire book that "the right does it too" there are no examples at all of the right doing the thing they are decrying. It seemed like a half-assed "both sides" argument without support.4. Do you know how many books I've read written by old people decrying the hippie generation of the 60s (Alan Bloome's Closing of the American Mind is an example)? Bloome was talking about Haidt and Luianoff. Boy do they grow up fast. 5. It makes me sad that more people will read this book than will read books highlighting actual big problems like inequality. The authors give a nod to the fact that inequality should definitely be remedied, but they would rather you do it the right way and not call it "social justice." Again, I agree with all the parenting advice and the cognitive behavior advice, but this is not a self-help book. It's meant as a polemic and it strikes at the wrong target.
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  • Ariella
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and will be recommending it to at least half the people I know. Its insights into the various developments over the past couple generations(parenting, social media, identity politics) weave a fascinating (if often dispiriting) and comprehensive picture of how we got to the current political climate, particularly on campus. The book is challenging in many respects, while remaining accessible and engaging. I’ll be thinking about it for a lon I was lucky enough to read an advance copy of this book, and will be recommending it to at least half the people I know. Its insights into the various developments over the past couple generations(parenting, social media, identity politics) weave a fascinating (if often dispiriting) and comprehensive picture of how we got to the current political climate, particularly on campus. The book is challenging in many respects, while remaining accessible and engaging. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time to come, and hope others will, too.
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  • Caitlin
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for the free advance copy!!This was an excellent and informative read. If you've ever wondered and worried about the worrying trend of people being publically shamed and harassed to the point that they've lost their reputations, careers and sometimes even physical safety just for expressing an unpopular opinion, this book is an absolute must read. It's actually bipartisan and takes a long scathing look at worrying trends from the left as well as the right Thank you to Goodreads and the publisher for the free advance copy!!This was an excellent and informative read. If you've ever wondered and worried about the worrying trend of people being publically shamed and harassed to the point that they've lost their reputations, careers and sometimes even physical safety just for expressing an unpopular opinion, this book is an absolute must read. It's actually bipartisan and takes a long scathing look at worrying trends from the left as well as the right and really delves deep into how and why these problems exist, why they're getting so much worse and how we can try to fix them.I can't recommend this one enough. Its thoroughly researched and backed up not just by social science data, but often hard science. I feel thoroughly more informed for having read it and it was honestly a pretty smooth read.Five thought-provoking stars.
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  • Kirsten Hawkes
    January 1, 1970
    I have long been alarmed by the over-the-top political correctness on university campuses. I was routinely offended by ideas I disagreed with at university, but frankly, an important part of a university education is learning to deal with multiple opposing viewpoints. In "The Coddling of the American Mind", the authors take a devastating look at the dumbing-down of debate on US campuses and look further at how it not only debases the students' educations but also feeds mental illness. This is no I have long been alarmed by the over-the-top political correctness on university campuses. I was routinely offended by ideas I disagreed with at university, but frankly, an important part of a university education is learning to deal with multiple opposing viewpoints. In "The Coddling of the American Mind", the authors take a devastating look at the dumbing-down of debate on US campuses and look further at how it not only debases the students' educations but also feeds mental illness. This is not just an American issue; Canadian universities are on this path, too.
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  • Clare Mansell
    January 1, 1970
    A fascinating read which I'm so glad I picked up. Very important lessons about our growing and expansive culture of safetyism and how it is crippling a generation.
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