The mind positively curdles at what we are doing to prepare kids to cope with the reality that is versus the sheltered life of home, and college.
This time, in England, we have two universities vying for the “Seriously???” Award of the year.
At Leeds Trinity University, we have a memo to staff urging them strongly against the use of capital letters, and advising against the “overuse of words ‘do’ and ‘don’t,’” as this may well frighten the little dears, leading to anxiety, which can lead to academic failure.
It also urged the staff to “be explicit about any inexplicitness” in their requirements regarding assignments, so as not to lead to confusion. Heaven forefend that a confused student might want to actually ask a question of the professor to clarify any confusion. And if the chancellor’s office uses such stupid terminology as “explicit and explicitness” rather than stating “say exactly what you want so there is no confusion,” I’m not surprised the students are cringing.
The vice chancellor said the university was “committed to supporting students to be ‘the very best they can be.’” Yes, well, being the best you can be surely encompasses rising above teenage angst by encouraging self-confidence in the face of reality. We have to teach these kids, to paraphrase a wonderful thought from the movie “Children of a Lesser God,” that if you speak or act in good conscience, you won’t shrivel up in a little ball to be blown away by a puff of wind.
Meanwhile, the University of Manchester’s student union voted to ban clapping and cheering at certain events so as to avoid upsetting those with anxiety. The kids now have to “jazz wave.”
I completely understand that there are those of us who don’t like the sound of thunderous applause and all the accompanying hooting and hollering. I’m not hugely thrilled with it myself, but I would be the very last person on earth to begrudge you your right to show your appreciation in such a manner at the appropriate time – a good football game, a spectacular rock concert – go ahead, clap and cheer. At the birth of your baby in the delivery room or at the funeral of the uncle you loathed all your life? Probably not. There’s a time and a place for everything.
If I don’t like it, I don’t need to go to the game, now do I? If I’m likely to be rendered unto a quivering mass of insecurity, I can assure you I will not put myself in a position where I’m likely to unravel. I’m really quite grown up about my likes and dislikes, about politeness, and fairness and honor.
Evidently this apparently archaic behavior drummed into us as children is not remotely acceptable any more.
I know some teachers and life events can be very intimidating, but let me tell you, honeys, THERE’S A VERY BIG, SCARY WORLD BEYOND THESE HALLOWED WALLS, AND YOUR DAUNTING TUTOR, OR THE VARSITY FOOTBALL MATCH, ARE POSITIVE PUSSY CATS COMPARED WITH CRANKY BOSSES, IRATE NEIGHBORS, FUMING ROAD RAGERS AND UNRULY CROWDS.
Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.