Tag Archives: Education

Lessons Learnt

Review – The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

The state of the youth in America is hardly a new preoccupation, and as long as we have seen the future, some have predicted chaos and doom following on the heels of the next generation. Continue reading

Hot Water and Higher Education

There’s meant to be something somewhat seedy about the profit motive. Perhaps this is why, in the case of education, many of us recoil in horror as soon as the prospect is introduced. This is an irrational response, but it’s not entirely unreasonable. Education is something which makes politicians misty-eyed. It makes their voices quaver. Our leaders describe with great emotion the need for the next generation to do better, to have more, to go without less. Continue reading

How to Become Interesting at Short Notice

If you, like me, are about to start at a university this month – and what a university – you will probably be thinking about a few things.

Worrying is probably more accurate – seriously fretting, becoming afeared. Continue reading

Review – The Uses and Abuses of History (2008) by Margaret MacMillan

History is more than a collection of dates and facts, kings and queens, battles and wars. It is also a guide for how we see the world, a shaping influence in the construction of our own worldview. Added to that, and increasingly seen in places like Russia, where media and writing of all kinds – everything that constitutes the nation’s intellectual life – can be conscripted into the creation of sinister political machinery, it can be a powerful tool. Even a weapon. Continue reading

Too Quick on the Trigger

I do not begrudge you the ability to precede anything you write, say or do with a warning. That is your right, and I would not want to take it away from you even if I could.

But there is, of course, a disparity of some magnitude between prefacing your own words with a cautionary notice – in this case a ‘trigger warning’, a practice which has gained some campaigning traction of late, especially in higher education – and demanding that others do the same. And there is an even greater gulf between doing so in a private capacity and wishing for universities and other public bodies to institute similar arrangements as a matter of policy. Such measures, especially when some advocates start to argue for their establishment out of civilised necessity, begin to resemble censorship on the sly. While it does not ostensibly interfere with the individual’s freedom of speech – a vital and inalienable right as that is – attaching warnings to undesirable material, those writings and works which contain unwanted aspects, could lead to the driving away of potential readers or viewers. Forcibly impeding the free dissemination of ideas is still censorious, even if the hat worn while doing so is one of kindness and concern. Continue reading

All’s Fair in Love and War? Review – The Pity of War (1998) by Niall Ferguson

One aspect of this book which has attracted a great deal of attention is its apparent novelty. Much has been made by reviewers of its gleeful rejection of received wisdom, as well as the confidence and vigour with which the historian who wrote it, Niall Ferguson, puts forward his controversial case. Ferguson, though now a respected and well-known figure within the academic community with several tenured professorships to his name, was only in his early thirties when the book was first published. His energy both in composition and argument was startling to many at that time. The arguments contained within this book are still hardly accepted by the mainstream; and they do not constitute a widely adopted interpretation – even now – of the course of the First World War and its causes. With the centenary of the First World War beginning last year, and a tranche of new work on the subject finding publication, it is perhaps pertinent to review this particularly fascinating book about how, more than one hundred years ago, the civilised world went to war and promptly set about tearing itself apart. Continue reading

Universities Must Stay Their Trigger-Fingers‏

As an A2 student who has spent over a year planning my progression to higher education, university is never far from my mind. When reading about the sorts of campus censorship – no-platformings and trigger warnings and safe spaces away from critical ideas and interpretations – which seem increasingly prevalent at British and American universities of late, my first thought is often one of irritation. Continue reading