I enjoyed Sam Hooper’s piece about the increasingly aggressive phenomenon of ‘safe space’ students. I think there is value in exploring where this social attitude came from in further detail. I believe that the recent desire of students to turn the adult world into their personal comfort zone is a direct consequence of a school system that over emphasises left- wing values. The ‘no one should ever lose’ mentality must be eradicated from schools in order to combat this insidious social attitude and create resilient adults.
One of the main fallacies I hear from those of a left-wing persuasion is the fact that competition means ‘someone loses.’ Obviously this is true, if a company makes an inferior product, and another company makes a better product, the former company receives less sales ergo profit and can be said to have lost. The latter company, who produced a better product, is said to have ‘won’ and that’s bad because someone else (the purveyor of shoddy products) is put out of business. Left-wingers don’t see this as a good but people who believe in markets are okay with this. This is how markets are meant to work and usually left-wing commentators forget that the consumer also always ‘wins’ too, by being able to purchase a superior/better value product.
This thinking has permeated the education system for decades. For years, children have been artificially insulated from any form of loss or emotional upset. The common practice of everyone getting a prize for taking part in sports regardless of how good they are, or how much effort they have put in. The reasoning being that no one’s feelings should get hurt. Whilst I appreciate that adults want their children to have happy childhoods, this has been taken way too far. It is not just the job of parents and educators to make children’s lives as happy as possible. It is the job of parents and educators to make their children into adults who can thrive in the adult world.
The rise of students who cannot exist outside of a ‘safe space’ shows that parents and educators have failed in many respects. Children should be exposed to competition and tests, offered incentives for doing well in them and working hard because that builds resilient adults who are ready for a world where not everyone gets a part in a blockbuster movie or a book deal. In trying to create a world where children are never subjected to rejection or losing, they are unprepared for an adult world where so much of life is about how you deal with rejection, loss, grief and disappointment and avoiding it is impossible. This is, after all, precisely what school is for; a place to fail when the stakes are low.
Left-wing anti-competition dogma, may very well remove mild temporary stress from children’s lives but it also robs them of the chance to develop the vital resilience they need to navigate the adult world. What is a job interview if not a competition? There’s no second or third place, there’s the person who gets the job – the winner – and everyone else is a loser with no prizes for taking part and often, no explanation for why you lost. This anti-competition attitude, which is pervasive in schools, prepares children for the world their parents and teachers wish existed rather than the world as it is.
Is it any wonder then that these students, now university aged, want to turn the adult world into an extension of their own personal comfort zones? We shouldn’t be surprised that students are shallow, virtue signalling social justice warriors who are threatened by any view that challenges their own. This is exactly the type of student conventional left-wing educationalists always wanted and it is tragic. But don’t worry! When they are no longer cushioned by their student unions, these individuals are in for a short, sharp shock of entering the adult world and it’ll do them a world of good.
For Conservatives For Liberty, March 2016.