NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Is it really too traumatizing for college students to read "The Great Gatsby?"
That's the idea behind the "trigger warnings" professors are putting on some books -- including "Gatsby" -- as well as articles and movies their students are expected to study. The idea is to shield young people from ideas they might find disturbing. But that in itself is disturbing, says Lenore Skenazy, president of the new nonprofit, "Let Grow," whose mission is "Creating resilience by overthrowing overprotection."
"Teaching kids to avoid all words, conversations and ideas they don't agree with is not doing anyone any favors. When we treat young people as remarkably fragile we actually MAKE them so." To help a rising generation of high school students consider the value of free speech in all its glorious discomfort, Let Grow is sponsoring a "THINK FOR YOURSELF" essay contest.
All high school students are eligible. The deadline is January 15, 2018. First prize is a $2,500 scholarship. Two second prizes are $1,000 each. Essay prompts include:
1. Christopher Hitchens once asked: "To whom would you delegate the task of deciding for you what you could read? Do you know anyone...to whom you would give this job?" Do you? Why or why not?
2. Write about a time you or someone you knew didn't speak up, or almost didn't, for fear your idea might be unpopular. What did you learn from this and would you do the same thing again?
3. What makes you think free speech is important, even in high school?
4. Please write a thank you note to the jerk you listened to... and learned something from (though perhaps that didn't happen right away).
Another question asks whether the "Sticks and stone may break my bones..." chant should be discarded or revived on playgrounds today.
Too often today, students on college campuses report they feel like they are "walking on eggshells," for fear of offending their fellow students, even accidentally. Let Grow believes that the more that students get used to talking, debating, and opening their minds, the more they grow intellectually and personally.
Let Grow's founding members include Daniel Shuchman, who is also chairman the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and New York University Professor Jonathan Haidt, author of "The Righteous Mind."
SOURCE Let Grow