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Lukianoff, G. & Haidt, J. (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure. Westminster, MD: Penguin Random House, LLC.

Review by Morgan Snyder, Orbis Education/Misericordia University, morgan.snyder@absn.misericordia.edu

“This is a book about education and wisdom. If we can educate the next generation more wisely, they will be stronger, richer, more virtuous, and even safer” (Lukianoff & Haidt, 2018, p. 269). So ends The Coddling of the American Mind, which stems from a 2015 article by authors Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, providing readers with an argument that today’s young people – whom some call iGens or Generation Z – are being harmed (perhaps unknowingly) by well-intentioned parenting, teaching, and advising. Throughout the text, they strive to explain what caused this change in college-aged students between the years 2013 and 2017 by revealing three “untruths” that are being stamped into the minds of children and young adults:

  1. The Untruth of Fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
  2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning: Always trust your feelings.
  3. The Untruth of Us vs. Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.  

Along with these three untruths, Lukianoff and Haidt provide six explanations of what they think is causing this environment of fragility in our youth: the rising political polarization of our nation; rising levels of anxiety and depression among youth; changes in parenting practices; the loss of free play in children; the growth of campus bureaucracy; and a faulty view of justice. In combining these three untruths, six explanatory threads, and a multitude of real-world examples, Lukianoff and Haidt work to explain what happened to this generation and what we as a society can do to fix the problem for current and future generations.

This book is a must-read for any individual working in higher education. It provides an objective explanation of what our current students have experienced and how they see the world. It speaks to the core value of empowerment, in that as advisors, we need to work even harder to “motivate, encourage, and support students and the greater educational community to recognize their potential, meet challenges, and respect individuality (NACADA Core Values, 2017)”.

References:

Lukianoff, G. & Haidt, J. (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure. Westminster, MD: Penguin Random House, LLC.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA academic advising core competencies model. Retrieved from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreCompetencies.aspx.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. (2017). NACADA core values of academic advising. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Pillars/CoreValues.aspx

 

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