Sticks and Stones . . . and Trigger Warnings

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Why do we educate? To meet a demand? What kind of demand are we addressing? I’ve been thinking about what it means to educate as opposed to teach. And then as I read, yes, The Atlantic, there was an article  related to my ruminations. In “The Coddling of the American Mind,” Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt address the limitations that are being heaped on professors as they work to provide students with reliable and unabridged content in their classrooms. This is really a tangled and complex subject to discuss and cannot fully be addressed in a single blog post, but the core of the issue, to me, is this: Anyone able to access higher education (i.e., they have graduated from high school) is presumed to be old enough and academically experienced enough to engage in open discussion and debate in relation to specific subject matter that is voluntarily received (i.e., attending college is optional, not compulsory).

Even the required core courses can be dropped and taken another time or online if a student does not like the professor, classmates, or topics. So, is it really necessary, even logical, to put the onus on the professors to offer Trigger Warnings to students in case an individual has experienced some form of trauma that may or may not be triggered by a reading, discussion, or even word that no one not related closely to said student could possibly predict? Can the individual even know ahead of time that something may trigger him/her? If the student does know that they cannot tolerate certain subject matter, shouldn’t they be obligated to ask the professor the overall trajectory of the course’s subject matter? Isn’t that what the first day and the syllabus are for?

Now, for those who think in terms of difficult schedules and the student’s inability to simply drop or change classes without their entire academic or work schedule being dismantled or seriously affected, I ask: Isn’t life littered with such inconveniences and dilemmas? What happens if someone breaks their leg and their job entails moving around quite a bit?  Does this mean the employers change the nature of the job or the employee figures out how to do the job, take a leave of absence, or go on disability? The latter of course.

So, if a student cannot tolerate, for any reason, the nature of the subject matter in a course, the course does not need to change, the student must regroup and figure out how to work with the need for change. Like an employee, the student can always approach the professor or the Chair or the Dean and discuss possible alternatives. BUT if the alternatives change the nature of the learning outcomes for that course, the student then is not actually engaging in that class. This then means the student must meet their objectives for core coursework or major concentration by changing classes, period. The student must acknowledge that there is more personal work to be done before they can fully engage in their academic ambitions.

There is no law or rule that says one cannot return to school when more mature, secure, or confident. After all, putting education on your terms is not about treating learning like a commodity or creating a rigid protocol on what you are willing to encounter, but acknowledging that you have limitations to overcome and strengths to draw from and taking the responsibility to make the changes and adjustments needed rather than forcing very carefully considered and scheduled materials to be altered.

Thank You to The Seeds 4 Life for Posting My Small “Seed”


dried-dill-seed-flower-2esopczFor some time now, I’ve followed theseeds4life.com so that I can receive regular doses of inspiration and encouragement. I look forward to opening my email and finding a new quote and commentary that may very well apply to a challenge or success in my life at that moment. Being that the spirit of this site has offered me so much, I opted to submit a quotation and commentary of my ow. And it was accepted!!!!

OK, this is part shameless self promotion, but it is also a desire to let others know about this site. It’s not just noise. It’s rthwhile philosophies of living from a quite varied selection of people. Below is what was accepted and posted. The copyright to my contribution lies with The Seeds 4 Life, so if you choose to share my words, please acknowledge both myself and the site.

Please do consider sharing your own inspirations with me and with theseeds4life.com

The below looks so much better on the “seeds” site in which there has been added a lovely image of fall foliage a small gazebo overlooking a lake so I’ve opted to insert a photo to emulate the overall mood.

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Quote I Chose to Submit: Autumn Is a Second Spring When Every Leaf Is a Flower – Albert Camus
Posted by: Patricia Hamill in All Seeds, Change October 4, 2015

The end of a season or the end of a project or celebration is not a time for sadness, but simply a time to rejuvenate so you can gather energy to burst into action once again.
The radiant warmth of the fall colors should uplift us and remind us that even the end of cycle of productivity and growth is not the precursor to death, but the doorway to a well-earned rest that then gives way to an explosion of awakenings and births.
The radiant warmth of the fall leaves, the flowers of the “second spring,” represent our own opportunities to burn brightly even when we thought that our time of productivity has ended or become tired. Brightness and beauty don’t exist only when life is blooming and reviving or when ideas are fresh; they can also burn brilliantly as we find the joy and satisfaction in completing a job or meeting a goal.
Let whatever your “Fall” is become a Second Spring that decorates the world in rich hues and looks forward to a clean white slate.