Annaleigh Curtis on trigger warnings and unusual phobias

Really super-thoughtful and interesting.

I wouldn’t expect the world to give me grasshopper trigger warnings. How could I? But if something like 1 in 5 or 1 in 3 students also had a grasshopper phobia, it would be a whole lot more reasonable to expect others to know this and take it into account. It takes work to build a classroom—or a society—where everyone can participate meaningfully. Part of that work is taking into account your students’ life experiences, to the extent that you can know what they are. Whenever I meet someone new and expect that we might be in a situation together where we’ll encounter a grasshopper, I give them a sort of reverse trigger warning. I tell them that I have this phobia, and that I might suddenly start acting weird, running away or suddenly stopping in my tracks. I try to prepare them for my own erratic behavior. We can’t expect this of trauma survivors, but we can work on the assumption that any college classroom contains a few of them. Providing basic trigger warnings about sexual assault, given that knowledge, is the minimally decent thing to do in creating an environment where everyone can succeed.

Read the whole thing.

One thought on “Annaleigh Curtis on trigger warnings and unusual phobias

  1. Said this on the blog itself:

    I don’t think it is, though.

    Your camp counsellor demonstrated a failure of empathy in a specific, interpersonal context where a small accommodation would’ve had a disproportionately positive impact. Most importantly, this accommodation (presumably) wouldn’t have had any (potentially) deleterious impacts on your development or on the wider development of the other campers.

    Not so for trigger warnings. The illiberal tendency of honouring any and all potential triggers with warnings has exerted a chilling effect on pedagogical freedom. I personally know educates who cannot (or will not) teach certain curricula because of upsetting the student population.

    So, no, it’s as if your camp counselor not only respected your phobia, but then took that accommodation to its logical conclusion and prevented not only other students from encountering grasshoppers – but even so much as studying them.

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