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#EIE19: Celebrated Author Dr. Jonathan Haidt to Speak to the Coddling of the American Mind

• Patricia Levesque


Today’s students are growing up in an ever-increasing polarizing climate, and many are ill-equipped to have classroom discussions about differing ideas and to resolve interpersonal conflict.

This November, I hope you’ll join us at the 12th annual National Summit on Education Reform to hear from Dr. Jonathan Haidt, author of the bestselling The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, with Greg Lukianoff. Ideas that challenge conventional thinking are one of Dr. Haidt’s fortes, serving as a critically important guide to those of us who work in education and public policy.

I can’t wait to hear his message about how to help today’s students become the critical thinkers and resilient leaders we urgently need. Join more than 1,000 education advocates at #EIE19 on November 20-21 in San Diego, California, to hear from Dr. Haidt and other inspiring speakers.

Our Q&A with Dr. Jonathan Haidt

ExcelinEd: How can your research on morality help children succeed? 
JH: We live in an age of outrage, our national scene is consumed with outrage. Outrage makes it impossible to think clearly, find the truth or get along with those who are not “on your team.” I hope that my research on morality will help students to be less judgmental, less partisan and more open to learning from others.
ExcelinEd: What inspired you to write The Coddling of the American Mind?
JH: The arrival of a new moral culture on some college campuses, around 2015 – a culture of fragility, anxiety and offense-taking. I saw it happening, and my friend Greg Lukianoff came to me with a diagnosis: Schools were somehow teaching many students to commit the exact same cognitive distortions Greg had learned to stop doing when he was treated for depression with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

ExcelinEd: If you could immediately change one thing about America’s education system, what would it be?
JH: A policy in all 50 states mandating that phones and other devices are locked away when students arrive at school and not returned until they leave in the afternoon, paired with very strong encouragement to parents to not allow their kids to create social media accounts until they are in high school.

ExcelinEd: What keeps you going and fuels you along a path to help all children?
JH: Panic. I see the tidal wave of depression, anxiety and self-harm that has engulfed Gen Z, and so I think we must move quickly to try to prevent the next generation from suffering the same fate.

ExcelinEd: What is the one takeaway you want National Summit on Education Reform attendees to walk away with after they hear from you?
JH: That students are not fragile, but we keep treating them as though they are fragile. Instead, students at all levels need more time for unsupervised play and exploration, along with procedures to ensure they do not spend that time on their phones.

About the author

Patricia Levesque @levesquepat

Patricia is the Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Contact Patricia at