Colleges may not celebrate Christmas, but they have no shortage of snowflakes. “A few years ago, Boston College psychology professor emeritus Peter Gray was invited by the head of counseling services at a major university to a conference on ‘the decline in resilience among students,’” Lenore Skenazy and Jonathan Haidt write in the latest issue of Reason magazine. “The organizer said that emergency counseling calls had doubled in the last five years.”
“What’s more, callers were seeking help coping with everyday problems, such as arguments with a roommate. Two students had dialed in because they’d found a mouse in their apartment. They also called the police, who came and set a mousetrap. And that’s not to mention the sensitivity around grades. To some students, a B is the end of the world. (To some parents, too.)”
Haidt teaches at NYU’s Stern School of Business. Skenazy is the president of the Let Grow Foundation.
They trace the lack of resilience to the cradle, as it were, and trace it right through the “Everyone gets a prize” phenomenon and beyond. Unfortunately, they find, sheltering children from actual competition and any type of adversity has ramifications that go well beyond women’s studies courses.
“A Johns Hopkins study this summer found that the typical 19-year-old is as sedentary as a 65-year-old,” they write. “The Army is worried that its recruits don’t know how to skip or do somersaults.”