Trying to make feelings rule over external reality

John Rosemond

Rosemond’s Pithy Philosophical Snippet of the Week: Crazy is believing that feelings – yours and other’s – define and should therefore govern external reality.

It is one thing to say, “Randolph really covets Humbert’s jacket and wishes it was his.” It is quite another to say, “Because Randolph covets Humbert’s jacket and wishes it was his, Humbert should not be allowed to wear said jacket where Randolph might see him wearing it.”

The former is a statement of fact, however subjective, concerning Randolph. The person making the latter statement, however, obviously thinks feelings – in this case, Randolph’s – should govern some external reality. That’s just crazy.

Apparently, Randolph’s jacket and jackets like it have caused the adults who run Woodchurch High School in Northwest England to go temporarily insane – we hope, at least, that it is temporary.

Said WHS adults – administrators, teachers, and who knows whom else – have banned students from wearing certain expensive jackets to school because that causes other students who cannot afford them to feel bad (i.e., to experience feelings of covetousness and jealousy); as such, say WHS administrators, wearing the jackets in question is a form of bullying.

No kidding. Wearing an expensive jacket that other kids’ parents can’t afford is the equivalent of purposefully tripping another kid, thus causing him to fall down a flight of stairs, breaking several bones.

Perhaps Brexit has something to do with it, but the Brits seem to be having difficulty separating feelings from facts these days.

Another example involves journalism professors at Leeds Trinity University in West Yorkshire, England. Said profs have been instructed to not use the word “don’t” in class lest student snowflakes be caused debilitating anxiety, be unable to complete assignments, fail, become homeless, and bring on the Apocalypse. The same, by the way, goes for professors using capital letters for emphasis (e.g., YGBKM!). I love British humor, but I’m worried they may be losing it.

In fact, this sort of madness has been building in England since the founding of Summerhill School in 1921. On its website, Summerhill is described as “a democratic, self-governing school in which the adults and children have equal status … each child being able take their own path in life and following their own interests to develop into the person that they personally feel that they are meant to be. This leads to an inner self-confidence and real acceptance of themselves as individuals.” Isn’t that just lovely? Meaningless, inane, and stupid, but lovely nonetheless.

In the late 1960s – from which all current forms of madness in America derive – Summerhill was held up as the ideal to which American education should aspire. One expression of this was the so-called “open classroom/school” where the student was a bold explorer and the teacher was a mere facilitator. In first grade, my son attended an open school. After nine months of bold exploring and being facilitated, he didn’t even know his ABCs.

Here’s what I’d like to point out to the folks at Woodchurch High: If you ban clothes that cost more than, say, 200 euros (or pounds, as the case may soon be) then certain students begin coveting items of clothing that cost more than 150 euros/pounds and those will need to be banned. The logical end of this is that WHC bans clothing altogether.

Eventually, it becomes Woodchurch Home for Permanently Deranged Former High School Administrators. That tragedy could be averted by simply mandating that all students wear uniforms. But that’s commonsense, which is de facto banned at WHC.

As for Leeds Trinity University, the solution to young adults who cannot tolerate the word “don’t” or acronyms is to send them to Summerhill where they may or may not learn their ABCs but their feelings concerning themselves will always be affirmed … which is why they can’t tolerate the word “don’t” in the first place.

We can only hope that this madness will cease when Brexit is finally resolved.

[Family psychologist John Rosemond, who lives in Asheville, N.C., is a newspaper columnist, public speaker, and author on parenting. His weekly parenting column is syndicated in approximately 225 newspapers, and he has authored 15 books on the subject. Contact him at,] Copyright 2018, John K. Rosemond