Last week, Robby Soave contrasted the safe space of his mother’s nursery school to the “safe spaces” demanded by today’s college students:
My mother is a nursery school teacher. Her classroom is a place for children between one and two years of age — adorable little tykes who are learning how to crawl, how to walk, and eventually, how to talk. Coloring materials, Play-Doh, playful tunes, bubbles, and nap time are a few of the components of her room: a veritable “safe space” for the kids entrusted to her expert care.
The safe space she created, as described by [New York Times op-ed writer Judith] Shulevitz, sounds familiar to me:
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.
It’s my mother’s classroom!
To say that the 18-year-olds at Brown who sought refuge from ideas that offended them are behaving like toddlers is actually to insult the toddlers — who don’t attend daycare by choice, and who routinely demonstrate more intellectual courage than these students seem capable of. (Anyone who has ever observed a child tackling blocks for the first time, or taking a chance on the slide, knows what I mean.)
As their students mature, my mother and her co-workers encourage the children to forego high chairs and upgrade from diapers to “big kid” toilets. If only American college administrators and professors did the same with their students.