Did you know “jazz hands” are slowly replacing clapping? No, really: Clapping has been banned at a leading university in the U.K. “to avoid triggering anxiety” for students.
Lest you think this practice doesn’t exist in the U.S., I can personally vouch that it does. When I spoke at Bard College in New York last year, the students there did this exact thing with their hands whenever one of their classmates would challenge me and they wanted to show their support. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until about halfway through the talk when I just flat-out asked the students,”What on Earth are you all doing?” (I had kind of figured it out by then, but I wanted to hear them explain it.)
Ironically, just after reading the U.K. article I got text from a friend who said our local high school is doing away with class rank, valedictorian, and salutatorian. The message? It’s just too stressful for kids to lose. They can’t cope.
This attempt to shield young people from anything uncomfortable is pure madness. We are setting kids up for a lifetime of pain.
The ability to cope with the myriad of changes and challenges that will occur throughout their lives, and the ability to form lasting bonds with people despite the inevitable conflict it brings, is crucial. Who’s modeling for kids how to cope with setbacks and adversity? Who’s educating them on strategies for how to make their way in the world?
No one. That’s who.
I’m currently reading Make Your Bed, by Adm. William H. McRaven, which is based on a popular graduation speech the author gave at the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. In that speech, McRaven listed 10 life lessons from basic SEAL training. No. 4 is this: If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward. “There were many a student,” he wrote, “who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. … Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.”
Similar to McRaven’s book is Jordan Peterson’s wildly popular book 12 Rules for Life. Rule No. 5 is: “Do not let children do anything that makes you dislike them,” in which he essentially tells parents not to rescue their children from hardship. “Children are damaged when those charged after their care, afraid of any conflict or upset, no longer dare to correct them and leave them without guidance. I can recognize such children on the street. They are doughy and unfocused and vague. They are leaden and dull instead of golden and bright. They are uncarved blocks, trapped in a perpetual state of waiting-to-be.”
While I’m grateful for writers such as Peterson and McRaven, who have a solid grasp on how to cope in a world that is often cruel and difficult, I’m terribly sad that it takes reading their work to learn what parents and educators should have taught their children all along.
This snowflake culture is killing our kids.