Tuesday, 19 May 2015


Roy Rogers' horse, of course, of course. Or an old friend of Del Boy. Or the latest thing in the academic world.

I'm starting to see this more and more. The new meaning is, disturbing material that causes excessive stress (which could lead to flashbacks, PTSD or an asthma attack).

It seems that pretty much anything can be triggering, and increasingly, American universites are trying to remove triggering material from their syllabus. Or at least, giving students warning that such material might be coming up.

We certainly didn't have this when I was at college. No-one warned me before we learned about Bessel Functions, or Quantum Field Theory. When our lecturer derived Euler's equation, we gave him a round of applause, no-one rolled around with breathing problems.

The whole point of university is to expose students to strange new concepts and difficult ideas, and I'm here to tell you that there's nothing more difficult than listening to Professor Dirac on Quantum Electrodynamics; he was a superb theoretician, but really not good at lecturing.

The thing is, you protect children, no problem. But there comes a time when you have to let children fend for themselves, it's called "growing up", and it happens ... well, it happens for different people at different ages. But officially, it happens at age 18, and people at university are, therefore, not children.

Even if it were possible to make a list of all possible triggering words, and put careful trigger warnings before letting university students see the text, that isn't going to help them when they leave university. As soon as they read a newspaper or watch television, it's going to be full of sex, violence, war, disease, disasters and catastrophes.

I hope this doesn't happen here. But I think it will.

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