We’d been hearing good things over the weekend about Wellesley High School English teacher David McCullough, Jr.’s faculty speech to the Class of 2012 last Friday. Here it is, in its entirety, courtesy of Mr. McCullough:
Dr. Wong, Dr. Keough, Mrs. Novogroski, Ms. Curran, members of the board of education, family and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen of the Wellesley High School class of 2012, for the privilege of speaking to you this afternoon, I am honored and grateful. Thank you.
So here we are… commencement… life’s great forward-looking ceremony. (And don’t say, “What about weddings?” Weddings are one-sided and insufficiently effective. Weddings are bride-centric pageantry. Other than conceding to a list of unreasonable demands, the groom just stands there. No stately, hey-everybody-look-at-me procession. No being given away. No identity-changing pronouncement. And can you imagine a television show dedicated to watching guys try on tuxedos? Their fathers sitting there misty-eyed with joy and disbelief, their brothers lurking in the corner muttering with envy. Left to men, weddings would be, after limits-testing procrastination, spontaneous, almost inadvertent… during halftime… on the way to the refrigerator. And then there’s the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. A winning percentage like that’ll get you last place in the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles do better than weddings.)
But this ceremony… commencement… a commencement works every time. From this day forward… truly… in sickness and in health, through financial fiascos, through midlife crises and passably attractive sales reps at trade shows in Cincinnati, through diminishing tolerance for annoyingness, through every difference, irreconcilable and otherwise, you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, ‘til death do you part.
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No, commencement is life’s great ceremonial beginning, with its own attendant and highly appropriate symbolism. Fitting, for example, for this auspicious rite of passage, is where we find ourselves this afternoon, the venue. Normally, I avoid clichés like the plague, wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole, but here we are on a literal level playing field. That matters. That says something. And your ceremonial costume… shapeless, uniform, one-size-fits-all. Whether male or female, tall or short, scholar or slacker, spray-tanned prom queen or intergalactic X-Box assassin, each of you is dressed, you’ll notice, exactly the same. And your diploma… but for your name, exactly the same.
All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special.
You are not special. You are not exceptional.
Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.
Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! [Editor’s upgrade: Or The Swellesley Report!] And now you’ve conquered high school… and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building…
But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.
The empirical evidence is everywhere, numbers even an English teacher can’t ignore. Newton, Natick, Nee… I am allowed to say Needham, yes? …that has to be two thousand high school graduates right there, give or take, and that’s just the neighborhood Ns. Across the country no fewer than 3.2 million seniors are graduating about now from more than 37,000 high schools. That’s 37,000 valedictorians… 37,000 class presidents… 92,000 harmonizing altos… 340,000 swaggering jocks… 2,185,967 pairs of Uggs. But why limit ourselves to high school? After all, you’re leaving it. So think about this: even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. Imagine standing somewhere over there on Washington Street on Marathon Monday and watching sixty-eight hundred yous go running by. And consider for a moment the bigger picture: your planet, I’ll remind you, is not the center of its solar system, your solar system is not the center of its galaxy, your galaxy is not the center of the universe. In fact, astrophysicists assure us the universe has no center; therefore, you cannot be it. Neither can Donald Trump… which someone should tell him… although that hair is quite a phenomenon.
“But, Dave,” you cry, “Walt Whitman tells me I’m my own version of perfection! Epictetus tells me I have the spark of Zeus!” And I don’t disagree. So that makes 6.8 billion examples of perfection, 6.8 billion sparks of Zeus. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless. In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another–which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement. We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole. No longer is it how you play the game, no longer is it even whether you win or lose, or learn or grow, or enjoy yourself doing it… Now it’s “So what does this get me?” As a consequence, we cheapen worthy endeavors, and building a Guatemalan medical clinic becomes more about the application to Bowdoin than the well-being of Guatemalans. It’s an epidemic — and in its way, not even dear old Wellesley High is immune… one of the best of the 37,000 nationwide, Wellesley High School… where good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C, and the midlevel curriculum is called Advanced College Placement. And I hope you caught me when I said “one of the best.” I said “one of the best” so we can feel better about ourselves, so we can bask in a little easy distinction, however vague and unverifiable, and count ourselves among the elite, whoever they might be, and enjoy a perceived leg up on the perceived competition. But the phrase defies logic. By definition there can be only one best. You’re it or you’re not.
If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning. You’ve learned, too, I hope, as Sophocles assured us, that wisdom is the chief element of happiness. (Second is ice cream… just an fyi) I also hope you’ve learned enough to recognize how little you know… how little you know now… at the moment… for today is just the beginning. It’s where you go from here that matters.
As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance. Don’t bother with work you don’t believe in any more than you would a spouse you’re not crazy about, lest you too find yourself on the wrong side of a Baltimore Orioles comparison. Resist the easy comforts of complacency, the specious glitter of materialism, the narcotic paralysis of self-satisfaction. Be worthy of your advantages. And read… read all the time… read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life. Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer; and as surely as there are commencements there are cessations, and you’ll be in no condition to enjoy the ceremony attendant to that eventuality no matter how delightful the afternoon.
The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness–quite an active verb, “pursuit”–which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. Locally, someone… I forget who… from time to time encourages young scholars to carpe the heck out of the diem. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands. (Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression–because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once… but because YLOO doesn’t have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn’t matter.)
None of this day-seizing, though, this YLOOing, should be interpreted as license for self-indulgence. Like accolades ought to be, the fulfilled life is a consequence, a gratifying byproduct. It’s what happens when you’re thinking about more important things. Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you. Go to Paris to be in Paris, not to cross it off your list and congratulate yourself for being worldly. Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.
Because everyone is.
Congratulations. Good luck. Make for yourselves, please, for your sake and for ours, extraordinary lives.
Adriana Campos says
One of my new favorite quotes: “Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.”
This speech will speak volumes to those with open minds, unfortunately there is contradictory man who doesn’t seem to be able to grasp the message being offered by this truly gifted educator. Contradictory man must have been one who needed to be the gift to the world-look at me-when in all actuality, who needs him. Reminds me of a game he probably endured over time -SIMPLE SIMON…well Simon, reread the words and look at the big picture…then again, maybe that’s your problem, no pictures were illustrated for you to follow along.
Mike Goemaat says
Easily the best teacher I ever had at WHS. Great speech, wish I could’ve seen it in person. Did anyone videotape this?
jon v says
This should be read at every graduation. I printed this speech and will have my own children read it
That’s one special teacher…
One of the best speeches I’ve ever read, and easily the best commencement address. As I said in another forum, I would give my left nut to have written this.
That would be a truly selfless act. clearly this speech hit you in a special place.
Thank you, Mr. McCullough, for these relevant and important truths. The most important life lesson is that turning the focus off of oneself is the only path to happiness. Your advice is similar to the address that David Foster Wallace wrote in 2005 when he addressed graduates of Kenyon College.
truth. well worth listening to if you are a human and have twenty two minutes to spare
Love it! Suldog pointed me over here and I think I’m not going to have to point others here as well. Too good not to share (first and foremost with my kids – even though they’re all already out of high school!) Thank you!
Wait… This isn’t David McCullough the Pulitzer prize winning historian is it???
it’s his son
His son whose father taught him well. Very well indeed…
I was wondering about that myself. Are you SURE it is?
Wellesley Media says
Check online tomorrow on our onDemand site. The whole graduation ceremony will be up at http://www.wellesleymedia.org/ondemand. The speech from David McCullough Jr. starts around 51:38 minutes into the program.
Kathy Maiden says
Fabulous…..had a touch of Steve Job’s Stanford address on doing what you love….but way more.
Michael Martin says
Finally, someone who has peered beneath the tinsel of the
PC crows and the glitter of a pampering education system!
May your tribe increase, Mr. McCullough!
“As you commence, then, and before you scatter to the winds, I urge you to do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.”
I am still learning this lesson.
Your words have truly touched me. Thank you.
Undoing all “they’ve” done in on ten minuet speech. My faith in the world may have been restored. I hope Mr McCullough realizes the significance and impact of this speech.
Paul Properzio says
I thought your speech to the WHS graduates was magnificent! Told it like it is with terrific reference, especially to the Greek and Roman classics. I teach Latin, Greek, and the Myth Tradition: From Homer to Gilgamesh to Vergil at Boston Latin Academy, another great school to which I have been commuting for 15 years. Maximas Gratias Tibi!
Very good. And some very funny lines. Three cliches in a sentence about not using cliches. Funny stuff.
And very inspiring.
I’m sending this to my kids, who graduated high school years ago.
Yeah, I caught that too. Hilarious! That it had to have been intentional makes it even more so.
R W Bristol says
Truly “the most” inspiring commencement address I have ever read!
Mr. McCullough, I applaud you for giving these modern day students a reality check as well as true guidance on how to live their lives to the fullest. The points you have made are Biblical, sound advice that has proven true throughout the ages. Thank you for pulling back the veil of self-importance to reveal the true meaning of how life should be lived ~ you have given them a gift. I truly hope they/we heed your advice! Life is not a dress rehearsal.
What a load of contradictory crap. If you climb a mountain or go to Paris for yourself, then how is that “selfless”? If you’re “selfless”, then why would you climb a mountain or go to Paris for yourself?
If you live for the accolades of others, then you have self-esteem problems, but devoting your life to selflessness for the other 6.8 billion people of the world seems a most desparate attempt to gain self-value through the opinions of others.
@geoih, you accurately represent those to whom we are selfless regardless of getting any satisfaction for doing so…and doing so because it’s the right thing to do. You missed the point of the whole thing…it wasn’t about you…it was about what you could be for others. I hope you get that figured out before you are in a position to make a contribution to life…cause it is waaaay bigger than you. That’s my prayer for you.
Brett W says
Evidently this offends you for some reason… LOOK OUT THAT MIRROR IS HEADED RIGHT FOR YOU!!!!
Shhhhhh. It’s ok. You’re not like everybody else. You truly ARE special. No need to get in a tizzy.
. . . and sometimes the writing of comments on a website is nothing more than desperate attempt to gain some attention for one’s self-perceived superior intellect. Has, possibly, Mr. McCullough stepped on your tender little ego and crushed your much-loved “King of Swatball” trophy?
joe smith says
Really? From the whole speech, this is what you could come up with? When people are looking for ‘bad’ they most certainly will find bad….However, despite your pursuit of that, I wish you the best…
Nothing about this is contradictory. Sorry you are having problems understanding it.
Obviously, you are one that doesn’t “get it” and you probably think the world revolves around you. Sorry pal… like Mr. McCullough said, you are not the center of the universe, but I bet you’ve been so high on something that you thought you were.
Bzzt! Sorry, you misunderstood the point, but thank you for participating in the conversation.
Here’s your participation trophy.
Mr. McCullough, somehow you’ve managed to articulate the essentials. There are lessons for us all, no matter our age, in your address and I’m grateful you see life as it is and have the ability and courage to say so..
Haha! What a great teacher. Loved every minute of this speech. I think every graduate should hear or read this speech.
Anthony Muralt says
Well though out and well said. Hopefully, Mr. McCullough’s words resonate with the graduates AND their parents.
I’m stunned by the magnitude of this speach. If you reached the students with this then there may be hope for our nation after all.
As a college professor I want to say thank you for preparing your students for the road ahead, and for having the courage to be truthful. This speech is the best graduation gift you could have given them. I hope they take it to heart.
Awesome. We need more truth-telling speeches like this. We must ask ourselves, if it stepped on our toes, then why did it? Thank you for speaking truth into our lives. For once someone told us what we need to hear and not necessarily what we wanted to hear. Amen. Amen.
This is wonderful. I’m going to print it out and save it for both of my boys (now only 10 months and 3 years old). As the years pass, I feel that it will only become more appropriate – a good reminder for this Mom not to coddle her boys, and a great lesson for those boys regarding how to get the most out of life.
Mr McCullough gave a fabulous speech. I would guess he’s a wonderful teacher.
Thank You! Spot on, and entertaining as well!
Kudos Mr. Mccullough on a truly amazing and thought provoking commencement address! I hope that some of the students ‘got it’ although I’m sure it flew right over many (and their parent’s) heads. I appreciated your comments and will share it with many. Thank you.
Riki Redente Strosser, Esq.
Steve T says
While I can’t agree that selflessness is always the right strategy, you are 100% correct about everyone being “special.” Your speech was both entertaining and enlightening. I find my current crop of college freshmen to have too much self esteem and not enough self motivation. That usually changes some time around the Financial Accounting midterm exam.
Your command of the language is extraordinary. Your speech should be required reading for all creative writing classes. The world needs more teachers with your intellect and attitudes.
Dan Mitchell says
Absolutely outstanding!! People who criticize this totally missed the message
David Berger says
I had taught for 40 years when I finally met my Waterloo. I was told to give better grades and to not fail certain students. I lasted there just the one year. At graduation I was surprised there were 6 Valedictorians and that GPA’s were all well above 4.0. I taught the real algebra but most of the students who failed all teats said they they had always relied on homework to save them. So I assigned homework and graded it and returned it to them. I had never graded homework before. (Just checked for being turned in.) Then I collected the homework and gave them a 10 question quiz over the same problems.. They rushed to my desk with the same request. (I need to see how I did it.)
Isn’t that the truth? I taught HS English/Expository Writing for several years before going into the private sector – long before unions, long before “self-esteem” curriculums, and I’ll bet that few students and/or teachers today could even diagram a sentence or compose a cogent Letter to the Editor! But, they are very good at “two thumb typing” which has encouraged and rewarded more talking than listening!
very inspirational and funny. well done.
K Graham says
After reading this I had to fight the urge to stand up an applaud! Amazing insights and rationality in a world gone mad among the “me generation”. You can be damn sure I’ll be sharing Mr. McCullough’s words with my own children and students. We have become an extrinsically motivated society and as a result have lost our intrinsic motivation to excel. When we do something for the love of the thing and not for the rewards we may receive as a result of our performance, we will ALWAYS achieve greater rewards and success in its execution.
Jenny K says
Cindy W. says
I wish I could Mr. McCullough a standing ovation.
Evelyn Begin says
Paul Properzio says
David, I think your speech is fabulous and noteworthy. It obviously made a huge impression on the WHS graduates. These students, like all of today’s teens, need to be challenged and because WHS students are entitled, they need to make their own way in the world. I especially like your classical Greek and Roman references in the speech. I teach Latin, Greek, and The Myth Tradition at Boston Latin Academy. Paul
Awesome speech…this generation expects it all because of who they are..but you have to work hard in life to be someone special, its not handed to you…
It’s funny, because this generation is the one selflessly working hard to make sure you get to enjoy wonderful social security and medicaid/care benefits that will be long gone before we get our chance to collect. Your generation is the one that expects everything to be handed to them because of some sense of entitlement, not ours.
this speech was very special.
make that very very special.
Mark B says
I couldn’t agree more. I have shared the same sentiment with young people I have come into contact with…not in this exact manner, but the same message nonetheless.
actually, I’m kinda surprised he wasn’t fired for being non-PC.
maybe a new day is dawning?
And if this man is the son of the historian, author and narrator of such PBS gems as “The American Experience” and Ken Burns’ “The Civil War,” then the apple has not fallen far from one truly magnificent tree.
I needed to add to this commentary but I have nothing new or noteworthy to add except that this speech is the one lesson all gradutes of all schools should be taught.
If you do nothing else in life you have earned your trophy for a Life well Lived!
L. wALKER says
I liked this speech. I agree with Kendaddy. Our younger generation is much
too spoiled and lazy. I have used a few young boys to help me with yard work
and I have had to show them how. Too many idle hands. Young people observe
your parents and elderly for actions and advice. Be thankful, obedient and willing.
Absolutely amazing! This is definitely the best assessment of this generation that I have read yet. I am printing and giving to my 15 year old son to read and decipher with his paperback Webster dictionary. I hope that he takes something away from it.
Jon Godson says
As a high school teacher, I can say that the only thing wrong with that address is that it was given to students as they were leaving high school, not entering. I can also say that if I said those same words to my students, I would be fired.
Yes! Some students, as a teacher, I see need that speech a lot earlier than high school.
What is wrong with you people? This man shows that he had absolutely no respect whatsoever for his pupils. And maybe you don’t either, and believe the tired old line the younger generation is “pampered”, “has it easy”, or is too “self-important”. Just so you know, at one point people probably said all of that about your generation, as well. Every generation has unique challenges, and a more human reaction would be empathy rather than the judgemental attitude you all exhibit.
As far as I can tell, the only person with too much self-importance is the man who had the gall to get up and speak these words. Getting through high school is, for many, a psychological minefield. It would be nice if they were allowed to celebrate that for a moment before they went off for the rest of their lives, which will be full of people trying to knock them down (apparently you all among them). The fact that you all support this man’s decision to get up and verbally harangue a bunch of 18 year olds in a self-indulgent rant is disgusting.
Nope. You’re totally wrong.
You are a moron!
El Tiburon says
You are the epitome of everything wrong with this county. But then again, society needs people like you as a guide post for the rest of us.
Josef Carlin says
Precisely the point. They got their participation trophies and now they demand respect? What exactly has the average high school student done to earn the respect of teachers?
Whats the matter tomh? Truth hurt your liberal sensitivities? Gasp – a teacher telling it like it is, and not like the fluffy fake world you lockstep progressive union fakers lie to your students about on a daily basis? Yup, your world that this teacher NAILED is going to fall totally part this November, as it began in Wisconsin this week; when the hammer falls on the 8th, I shall remember your idiot comment read here, and laugh. Need a tissue, or a diaper dear?
I Read Good says
Reading comprehension fail, Tomh.
WHAAAAAA!!! You’re exactly the kind of person he is trying to save these kids from. Suck it up. Telling kids they are special for doing what they are supposed to do will not help them in the real world.
Did you really read the entire text of that address? And you still think Mr McCullough disrespected anyone?
This quote tells me all I or anyone else needs to know about you: “Getting through high school is, for many, a psychological minefield”. Only some barely adult, think they know it all, self-important, moron would use terminology such as this.
Grow up, but until you do, please STFU. You are only making yourself look stupid.
On the contrary, I think the speech was brilliant…look how it encouraged THINKING, analysis, conclusions that only the aggressive try and the timid seek solace. I graduated from a tough Prep School, and while we were lauded for coming [this] far we were encouraged to reach for the stars, not the celebrity kind, rather the ideas that have yet to be proven right or wrong, and [WE] have the ability to make the choice of making history, not for ourselves, but for humanity. I have two big hands clapping, and this magnificent oration should be widely disseminated.
@ tomh- you couldnt be more wrong. when you quit trying to be the center of your universe and become selfless instead of self absorbed (read fb, twitter fanatics) you finally understand what it means to live life. You also stop wanting things and start wanting to do things.
Marilyn S. says
If you think High School is a psychological minefield, just wait until you get an office job! Life doesn’t get easier after graduation; it gets much, much harder.
You need to read this, because you absolutely fail to get the message: Life ain’t about you.
I guess the truth hurts, heh? It’s about time someone told the truth. Especially in a left wing onclave like Wellesley. Of course all of the liberals shouting and cursing Mr. McCullough are the same ones that have been brainwashed over the years in our government schools.
Larry W says
Loved every word of it. Darn if I could have used that speech myself. If you read the entire speech you will see it had more balance than the highlights, but he was clear, your not all that important. The wisdom in that speech probably will surpass all the knowledge these kids will get when they go to college. His closing was great
“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.”
Tomh, This was a brilliant, non coddling, non indulgent commencement speech and NOT filled with the usual empty idiotic cliches, but filled with truth and substance to get them thinking. I only wish that we had had that my commencement 20 odd years ago. The teacher wasn’t trying to ‘knock them down’ or even belittle them. He was drawing attention to a fact. No ONE is special if ALL are assumed special. Of course high can be a terrible time, but that’s precisely why he is saying ‘you are not special’, that these kids – all of the graduating kids, past, present and future – are not the center of the universe to be pampered and boosted, filled with unrealistic expectations of life to be followed by bitter disappointment when the golden words of some pretty speech are dashed against the rocks of reality. To constantly hail mediocrity does nothing for anyone. Obviously, the child is special to the parent, but in the grander scheme of life and the world, they are not. (I love his quip about “carpe diem”. People parrot that without truly understanding it)
Pull your head out of the sand. Life AFTER high school is tougher and the cost of failure is more dear.
This man provided a service to anyone of his students willing to actually listen. I only hope he had the same passion and attituted for the 3 or 4 years (9-12 or 10-12) while they were attending school.
It’s only a pyschological minefield because partly it’s always been that way! Adolescence is a period of change and it isn’t always easy, but it sure is necessary – but since when should everything be easy? These children raising children have been glorifying little johnny’s soccer playing and little suzie’s first ballet lesson way too long! And, what has it produced? A huge generation where lying is acceptable, achievement is just turning in the paper without any recognition of its content or lack thereof, laziness is rewarded and entitlement is demanded! And, the curriculum of HS is much easier now than it was 30 – 40 years ago as well, so while we totally “dumb down” the population, they are out occupying for free tuition to elongate their childhoods, free homes, cars and latte cards!
Picking a brand of coffee, is “for many, a psychological minefield”. We Americans have become a nation of self-important, entitled whiners because of the belief that our “feelings” are more important than our knowledge and skills.
I for one, am glad there ARE teachers who can address it forthrightly.
What did the pupils do to earn their elder’s respect ? Respect is something that is earned and maintained. It is not something that is dispensed just because you exist, or because you do what is expected of you. You think that getting through school is some kind of minefield? I would counter that school is like a walk in the park, compared to life after school. Dave is right, we are not “special”. I respect him for having the courage to speak the truth.
So speaketh the loser.
I’d say he gave them the ultimate respect (hyperbole apology) because he told them the truth and put their lives into perspective. And don’t think they won’t celebrate because if they are like most of my seniors in my classes they aren’t listening anyway.
I thought the speech very timely and effective.
C. Strasburger says
Seriously, Tom? Are you really that daft, or are you one of the mindless liberals he was referring to that tell children how special they are, that they are all winners, when they’re not?
Have you seen the occupy stupid thing as of late?
I’m sure your parents are very proud…..good grief…. Its really no wonder that we’ve raised a generation of morons…..
Your an idiot. I feel sorry for you. You can’t understand what he is saying, and that is a tragedy. It was said in the report that he got a standing ovation for this speech, By the graduates and the rest of the audience. This speech spoke good to them, and you still say that this man got up there and “verbally harangue” these kid. And the worst part is that you think it was “self-indulgent”.
Yeah, sorry, Tom, but I’m from the younger generation. He’s right. When there are parents these days calling into their grown childrens’ place of employment for them? Ridiculous. Like your reaction. Take care. And remember: You’re special.
How old are you, Tomh? I’ll bet you’re under 25. And I’ll also bet you didn’t read the entire speech, and if you did, clearly can’t appreciate the message he was sending. I’ll also be you didn’t do well in school. How am I doing so far?
tomh doesn’t get it…too funny!
Oh, please. The only people who could possibly get offended by this man’s speech would be the very same self-centered brats that he’s so rightly criticizing. The truth hurts. Grow up and deal with it.
You’ve quite obviously missed the entire point.
Your attitude belies your own upbringing as a “special” child.
“…if everyone is special, then no one is.” It is a deeply profound statement that should have eye-opening consequences for every little girl whose mother named her Cheyenne because it would somehow make her unique, to every Little Leaguer who never knew what the final score was so as not to hurt the loser’s feelings, to every twenty-something who dragged their immaturity and inability to cope with real life deeper into their adulthood because they were never allowed to learn as children that there are winners AND losers in life, it is for these misguided souls for whom this message is intended.
If McCullogh’s message hurt your feelings then the message hit its target.
Liam O'Sruitheain says
Oh, boo hoo hoo ! Cry me a river !
Teenagers NEED to be harangued. They are, in a collective sense, spoiled and arrogant little thugs. They need to be disabused of their common belief that the world owes them everything. Sure, that is a generalization. They are not all bad. Yet, it is a generalization that is justified by reality.
You miss the ENTIRE point! Completely! The arrow did not even come close to the target, but sailed of over the hedge. Yours is an EPIC fail to understand! There is a profound genius in this, because, in the present day, our youth seem to have been taught that it is not the goodness of the work, but rather what attention that work may garner. The idea of personal exceptional-ism has been drilled out of our youth, as has the understanding that one must fight, tooth and nail, to reach the top of the food chain.
Here is a question, then, if the author is full of hooey: When you are in your dotage, and seeking the last vestiges of social interact, would you rather place your hopes upon one who offers a few minutes of time because it is the right thing to do, or because of an expected reward.
If you cannot understand this, then you are already lost…
TomH – it’s obvious that you were cossetted, doted upon, had your bottom wiped and told you could be and do anything you want…and you believed them. And you’re still wrong. This teacher is absolutely right. Dr. Spock had no children and his notion of raising kids doesn’t work.
As Mr. McCullough insists, you’re nothing special. You’re no better than the rest of us and it that makes you cry, I’m sure you’ll run out and vote for a Democrat just to get even. The truth is, you cannot be anything you want to be in life, no matter how hard you try or how bad you want it. You can only be the best you. Instead of wasting time trying to improve in your weak areas, devote that energy to improving what you already do well. If you can’t sing – don’t try out for American Idol. If you are a computer geek, take every course you can so you can be an authority. If you want to be special, be humble. Put others first – that’s special.
This is a great time for our young people to hear this message. Maybe they will learn not to listen to the sound bites and will pay attention to the motives of others. America needs to toughen up. You can be gay, but don’t be fey.
You’re part of the problem. Honesty is more important than niceness.
yOU TOTALLY MISSED THE POINT READ IT AGAIN. IT WAS WONDERFUL, DEEP AND FULL OF LOVE FOR HIS STUDENTS
I think you might have missed the point.
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy…you missed the point, dude. The teacher was trying his best to encourage the kids not to sit on their butts expecting the world to come to them…they have been told for the last 12 to 14 years they are exceptional, they are marvelous, they are the best and the brightest…he’s trying to provide them a dose of reality; perhaps, you should try the same thing…
I’m afraid it is exactly because of people like you, Tommy, that the country is in the condition it is currently. We have become “expectors” rather than “inspectors”…we expect everyone to recognize how wonderful we are rather than inspecting the world around us and finding where we can make a difference.
These kids will grow into adults that are either an asset to society or a debit…we have enough debits.
John McCumber says
I hereby nominate Tomh to be the commencement speaker for next year’s graduates of the Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good.
Mark E. says
This guy is real, and spoke the truth. If they can’t take it, then too bad. Welcome to the real world!
I suggest, tomh, that you re-read the speech again and again, until it’s truth finally sinks into that overly-thick skull of yours…speaking of self-indulgent.
@tomh, I don’t disagree with you that high school is a psychological minefield these days. But why is that? By and large, our educators and parents have “lost the bubble” on what those formative years should be about. Why else have we fallen to a rank somewhere in the high teens for quality of education of our young people. Mr McCullough was spot on with his remarks and even engendered a quiet prayer that I myself might live up to his admonition to “live only once”.
As another commenter suggested, these words should be proclaimed to students as they enter high school … and, IMHO, again as they depart.
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy, aren’t we a little toxically full of ourselves. Bless your heart!
Try not to confuse respect with fawning. It is very likely that every generation experienced a level of fawning at their HS graduation, yet none so far has risen to the “It is you that will save the world” level of sophistry that is so typical of these events.
If these kids are so brittle as your misplaced “empathy” suggests they could soon end up, like you, to consider a small dose of reality to be an unbearable crucible.
Don’t sweat it it’s likely most of the kids weren’t paying much attention anyway.
Your break is over. Get back to the fry machine.
Tom, I get the idea you didn’t read his whole speech, but rather had these thoughts in response to what you think his speech is about. Your comments are in complete disagreement with any understanding whatsoever of what this man said. Read the WHOLE thing, then comment again, OK?
You are exactly the type of person this man is trying to warn against. Verbally harangue….how the hell did you come away with that implication. He is challenging them to be better people and to live a full, meaningful life. It is a shame that you can’t see that.
You have absolutely no clue. I am so sorry for you.
blah blah blah. You’re probably too ignorant to read the whole thing. It ‘s not disrespectful to give advice. You sound as if you’re part of the problem…
Widow's Son says
Sorry Tom. The above speech is a little dose of reality. Something for which the up and coming children in this country are [largely] woefully unprepared.
Their understanding of accountability and what it takes to actually do something with yourself is horrendously skewed. The above was a GREAT was to tell them that existence is only that. It’s what you actually DO during it that matters and is deserving of notice. Action is key and accomplishment is the praise you have EARNED. Breathing should not warrant a pat on the back.
Dave S says
Tom H. You must be joking right. You winked when you wrote this; did you not?
Rick Caston says
Oh stop whining tomh, compared to generations past they are indeed pampered. But not to worry, the pampering will continue once they get to those liberal bastions called college where the indoctrination process into the liberal ideology will resume by the left wing, socialist, Marxist or Communist professors who are free to spill their drivel unabated by a travesty called tenure. Take a deep breath and relax tomh, the never ending stream of future OWS participants will not be affected by this honorable man’s speech.
Yours is a comment indicative of the present day self-absorbed, mollycoddled and sheltered, multi-cultured, yet oblivious “Everyone’s a Hero” generation. Perhaps if you had attended this school & heard these stark words of wisdom at your high school commencement, you wouldn’t now be posting such an outraged response. (Or, more probably, just sat there and cried.)
Awww -did you get your feelings hurt? Small piece of advice ( which is cheap and free, but…) Criticize the culture with the passion you showed in criticizing this speech and you do may well do OK.
What a courageous speech! It was far from a harangue; it was a tough love call to arms. A little challenge to seek out a future better than the one before is not only welcome, it used to be what we wanted for our kids. Don’t settle for being losers watching reality show losers (who are at least making a paycheck).
We used to have a conspiracy of the parents – my family had the same hopes and standards as the family next door, and so on. That can’t be assumed now. Common sense isn’t common anymore. Please, be the best you can be. Follow the footsteps of a Columbus or a King, and build a body of work based on character and action. After all, if we are all created in the image of God, doesn’t that means we were created to be creative? Overcome the psycho-babble and be a citizen worthy of your family name and your country’s name.
By the way, God bless the teachers – I would be very surprised if most of them did not want to shake Mr. McCullough’s hand afterwards. If the school administrators knew what Mr. McCullough was going to say beforehand, God bless them, too. If not, and they were offended by his speech, well…there’s always homeschooling.
@tomh – Really? Return to your life of mediocrity and leave well enough alone to those who would council our up and coming citizens to live with courage.
Ken Lewis says
You need to get in touch with reality, my friend. These are hard words that need to be said. Politically incorrect? Yes. But worthy of utterance? Indubitably. Our world and our nation are disintegrating because too few have the courage to speak this truth.
Mark Haldane says
I am sorry that the fantastic and uplifting message was over your head. It was not haranguing or a rant. It is simple logic that if everyone has the same place in society, no one is special. My great-aunt was a teacher in Wellesley. I believe should would have approved of the message. If these privileged children are too pampered to hear that doing something besides taking in oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is required to stand out and they should aspire to serve others, then the world they are about to enter is going to be rude awakening. Telling the truth and believing your audience is mature enough to understand it shows the greatest respect one can have for the students and their families. I would bet that most of the students at Wellesley have a better understanding of the address than you do. This may be the greatest graduation speech I have ever read (and they number in the hundreds).
John Smith says
LOL Was your kid there ? Maybe you shouldn’t coddle you kid so much & train it to face life & all its problems. Sounds like your feelings are hurt, but life is tough. This society has produced a generation of freeking self centered wimps who thinks the ones who produce owe them a living, example OWS. So get off your high horse & do your part to tell these pants on the ground little twirps that life ain’t fair, so MAN UP.
JP Jones says
Based on your comments, his remarks are for you too. Today’s high school graduates have at best an eighth grade education. Many of them that plan to attend College will have to take some of their High School classes again, just to grasp what they were so easily “passed” on. Look at your parent’s report card; what was a failing grade for them is at worse a C- for today’s students. I bet you and those students think you all have accomplished something or anything in your life too, but David was absolutely right. His words need to be spoken time and again in their ears and in the ears of many whining Americans that think they are special and should receive some reward for their mediocre attempts. Too many people today think they are special, you’ll know you are special when it’s inscribed in the history books “with prolonged contemplation” after you die. Mediocrity ascends to the highest levels; receiving a Nobel Prize for something you haven’t done, cheapens that award and all others.
The purpose of education (K-12) is to teach you how to learn; to provide for you a brief exposure to the variety of man’s endeavors so you can understand that you don’t yet know anything and create in you the desire to discover more on your own. Today’s young are selfish, they are motivated by “what’s in it for me”, instead of “how can I truly help mankind, visiting (providing for) their needs”.
My only concern with what David said, was that he left the common misconception regarding the “pursuit of Happiness” to open interpretation. The” Founding Fathers” were well educated, intelligent men. They understood that “pursuit of Happiness” refers to pursuit of GOD, HIS will, and HIS way, since the word happy was first used and defined (Koine’d) in the Bible over 3,900 years ago. That’s why it was used in the Preamble of the Constitution that way, with a capital H, just like the capital P in “divine Providence”, referring to the watchful eye of the GOD of creation. David’s focus was on the word pursuit, and I understand, but I would have used another reference to illustrate the point.
Notwithstanding the previous exception, David’s address was noteworthy and should be considered for inclusion in history as a means of awakening small closed minds.
you completely missed the point, and, it is evident you are projecting that your own life is full of blaming others for the shortcomings you have, are, and will continue to experience.
there is no hope for people like you, and i do wish you luck. you’ll need it, since you don’t have the moxie to blame yourself.
I wish Barack Obama was sitting there!
This is just a wonderfully crafted speech. Wish I could have heard him speak it. I think this speech should be required reading for every graduate!!
I LOVED it!!!! Those that didn’t get it, read it again, print it and wait a few years and read it then. I am printing it and reading it to my now 7 year old son someday. I want to say when he’s 10, but that might be too soon and he might not get it. I’ll have to wait and see but I will know when the time is right.
This is a wonderful speech and I’m going to share it with all of my siblings, nieces and nephews and anyone who will take the time to read it. In fact, I know of two people that graduated this year and I bet the speeches they heard didn’t compare to this one!!!
“If you’ve learned anything in your years here I hope it’s that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning.” Hahahahahahahahaha. Dream on.
Unfortunately, this speech is long-winded and smacks of the professor’s own self indulgence. While I agree that EVERY generation of high school graduates should not expect life’s greatest moments to be handed to them on a platter, this presentation of that sentiment is overly critical and presumptuous. I mean just how pretentious is it to have the backbone of this whole thing be “You are not special”? Don’t get me wrong, I think plenty of what McCullough has to say here is important and insightful. It’s just the nature of how he phrases it. I don’t believe in sugar-coating the pill, but damn these kids just got through 12 years of a most tedious and contradictory education system only to flop out like a fish out of water in a severely damaged and bleak economy, probably going on to accumulate a lifetime of debt from an equally tedious higher learning institution.
The “exhilaration of learning” doesn’t do much for you when you have to scrape for rent because you’ve acquired a useless degree or have just been laid off due to a feeble economy.
McCullogh’s generation created the current one; how can these kids be held accountable for their own technology-induced attention disorders or perceived “selfish” behaviors?
If you want to give them a reality check, don’t lead off by saying “fuck you,” but rather “I’m sorry, but this is what it’s like out there.”
Words of truth that are spoken fearlessly, confidently and with a dash of humor are rare gems in today’s world of gaudy accolades. This was positively a refreshing, stand-up-and-cheer with a dash of “Finally!”, read.
EYE DICTATE says
The only think that I don’t like about his speech was the relevance to the Baltimore Orioles. He should have used the Kansas City Royals as an example of not being special.
Marilyn S. says
I finished reading your speech and wanted to cheer!!! Your speech should be framed and hung in every high school throughout America. It should be required reading for all entering freshmen as well as for all exiting seniors.
Bravo, sir!!!!! Bravo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish we could clone you and put you in each and every classroom in America!
All these comments…2 boo hoos. Not bad. I remember asking my oldest, when he would struggle with homework and wonder what all the fuss was about grades, “do I get paid more money if you get an A, or will you get into a better college, get a better career, and make more moeny if you get that A?”. He realized it wasn’t about the accolades, but about the future. Thank you, Mr. McCullough, for taking a sharp witty pin, and pricking the self importance of today’s high school graduates. If Facebook is any indicatior of a typical teen’s writing skills, I shudder with fear…
This is a very good message to all those from every generation who think the world revolves around them and owes them something because they’re special.
This man is extremely intelligent-he should write a book (or 2 or 3)
John Vrabel says
Its my birthday today! 6.8 million divided by 365 is… Who cares anyway. I love you all
After fighting my urge to stand up and applaud this speech…I decided it might be best to print a copy for each of our children…including the recent high school grad! What an outstanding message for all ages to ponder.
I’m knocking on the door to 60 years of age and that speech inspired me! It’s about time someone told young folks real and valid truth. Totally amazing speech, sir! Thank you.
Barbara Booey says
These kids (and many of their doting parents) have been and will continue to celebrate these kids achievements every day of their lives. It is refreshing that on at least one of them, they will receive their come-uppance and a dose of what the world they are entering will be like. It’s clear you subscribe to the “everyone’s a winner” way of thinking, but it’s a shame you don’t realize that this simply does our nation’s kids a disservice and places our country further behind the 8 ball in the big scheme of things.
While what he says is basically true, as a matter of decorum, he comes across as a smug, self-righteous, self-indulgent jerk. In a flash of irony, his desire to distinguish himself as a malcontent and seer during a high school commencement speech reeks of the narcissism and self-absorption he claims to be railing against. From a pragmatic point of view, those most in need of his advice are least likely to absorb it in this context, and the ones who will embrace his argument are those who already well understand it. He’s preaching when he should be congratulating.
Another quick point: the cliche he repeats throughout, “if you’re special, then nobody is,” mistakes what “special” means in the same unfortunate way narcissists mistake it: “special” does not mean “superior,” it means “different,” “individual,” “unique.” It does not mean “better,” or “best.” For those who don’t organize all human endeavor according to winning and losing, the word “special” is not much of a threat.
I graduated in 1976. this was a fantastic message, and in 20 years, they will understand it.
Just have to say that i LOVE this speech, and having just graduated myself I don’t see anything wrong with it as so many else do. It is coming from a genuine place and what is wrong with that??
L. Allen says
AMEN! This should be told to every high school student AND their parents.
Ted C says
I wish to God someone had given me this speech when I graduated from High School. The accolades from family, the shallow awards, and the glowing speech we heard about the best days of our lives – and the endless opportunities and acheivements that would inevitably fall into our laps – led to a desperate, uncomfortable decade as I wondered what was wrong with me and why things didn’t just all go my way. I had to learn the truths in this excellent speech the hard way. It could have saved me the better part of a decade figuring these things out because no one had the guts to me.
B. Hart says
Love it! especially the inspiring ending!
“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special.”
Duncan Rogers says
As a graduate of WHS long ago, I applaud this speech. Well said.
Alice Maxwell says
At last we see the mood in the country beginning to change! Hurrah!
The constant crisis being reported is getting into the fixated American minds. Life is not a bowl of cherries and our children are not the future if they are not ready to work for it!
Oh, Dave McCullough, you are a jewel and you are a great teacher. I hope your stu dents respond better thah their parents ever did! Come to think of it, you aimed at them too!
“(W)here good is no longer good enough, where a B is the new C,” I believe is a typo….it should read “….where C is the new B,….”
Mr. Mccullough’s last sentence is the only one that we should focus on – if we see everyone as special and unique we cannot help but love fully and place others before one self..
Mari Owen says
This is probably the first honest speech they have ever heard. As a graduation gift, their parents should copy it off and give it to them for a graduation present. Better yet, make lots of copies and paper their bedroom with it!
I am sorry, but my comment to this teacher would be: “Stick your “Your Not Special” speech in your ear!” I know this dude thinks he’s giving people a reality check, however, I also know a lot of Primary and Secondary Education teachers who only encourage students to succeed when they can potentially boost the teacher’s career…..This guy should have directed this speech at the other teachers and NOT the students…This guy should have been encouraging the students to go out and be awesome members of society and be proud of their accomplishments in school and college…and NOT telling them that they are in no way special……I am tired of hearing about teachers being proud of only a select group of students….the “Jocks” if you will….granted they should be proud of their achievements, but this does NOT mean the teacher stops focusing on ALL the students and not just the Jocks……Talk about descrimination…..
Amen! I have worked with “maladjusted youth” for 21 years and my wife is a public school teacher. We are the parents of two small children and agree that the liberal run schools are the source of a lot of this attitude. Kids are told that their poop doesn’t stink and they believe it. Throw in their parents attitudes – not valuing education, etc. and they are doomed to fail. But don’t worry – the dems will give them welfare, food stamps and everything else to buy their votes and keep them on the dole. They are being bought with our money and kept poor. This is not the America our founding fathers had in mind! The Obamination must be stopped in November!!
Absolutely outstanding! We need more of this sort of thinking and fewer “participation trophies”. The students in McCullough’s classes are very fortunate.
Is there anyway you can corral obama, the liberal media, arrogant/stupid hollywood and the majority of idoits in DC, oh and all the stuckup harvard professors ad give them this speech. Maybe they’d learn somthing……maybe not!
teach 5 says
Brilliant…such wonderful insight to today’s graduates!
My favorite line: “The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.”
Well done, Mr. McCullough. Keep inspiring us all!
Craig Gilkison says
An excellent speech. He negleglected one point though. Wellesley HS grads aren’t special, Weston HS grads are.
@tomh will undoubtably have a couple of 30 year old kids living on his couch. Either that or he’ll be paying for their lodging elsewhere. And he also thinks everyone should get a ribbon for showing up. That is stupid thinking, and the #1 reason the U.S. is the 8th most powerful nation on the planet instead of #1, which most of them still believe. lol
teach 5 says
Brilliant…such insight for today’s graduates! One of my favorite quotes:”The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.”
Well done, Mr. McCullough! Please continue teaching and inspiring us all!
Judy Serritella says
Beautiful! Needs to be on the front page of every newspaper in America.
Great speech, but the Orioles are in first place this year…
Carole Hendrix says
Amazing. Just when you see our culture in a hole (and digging) your faith is renewed by someone thoughtful and articulate and right and in a position to have an impact
It was a different and a pretty good speech until he ruined it at the end:
“Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them. And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special”
Advocating that people be selfless means that people should always do things for everyone else, and nothing for one’s self. This is hardly realistic. unless one is very rich.
You should do things in your self interests, because if you do not, then you have to depend on others to act in your self interests, and you will become a burden to them. He is wrong about not being special, it is just that we need to earn that accolade. What he failed to say is that we are each unique, but we need to work and parlay our uniqueness into our pursuit of happiness. We need to act in our own self interests because if we do and earn more than we need for ourselves, then we can help others. If we are selfless then we will be poor and dependent on others for charity. I would recommend that the speaker try reading Ayn Rand, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, De Toqueville, Henry Hazlitt, Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, and others who understand freedom, how it is achieved and how it is retained.
I hear what you’re saying, but I feel it’s a rather kindergarten view of what “selfless” means. Of course you have to take care of yourself to be a functional human being, but anyone who has ever involved themselves in even the simplest open-hearted generosity knows that really being selfles _is_ taking care of yourself.
I’m sorry, tomh, I respectfully disagree. I believe that removing the wool from over the eyes of the young adults shows the utmost respect. He respects them enough to share what he believes to be the truth. And in much of what he says, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s hard to deny that today’s youth has a warped sense of accomplishment. And I say this as a younger adult, myself. Knowing that I, too, at times don’t have proper perspective. He delivered a wake-up call to an impressionable and knowledge-thirsty group of students, many of whom aren’t properly prepared to deal with lives “full of people trying to knock them down.” Because of how many of them have been raised, they are soft and ill-equipped to properly deal with such adversity. At the same time, he encourages them to dream big and reach for excellence — to not allow those standing in their way or trying to knock them down prevent them from achieving brilliance. It’s time for us to show enough love and respect to properly prepare the next generation for hardships — not to terrify them but to empower them with the knowledge that they can rise above if they know it’s out there and they have experience dealing with it. Life is not easy. To me, excessive coddling is doing a disservice to the very people we are trying to protect. I’m not saying we should guide without love and compassion. Positive reinforcement is a huge part of the solution. But young people must be aware of the potential pitfalls of life. Without warning, they won’t know how to recognize, sidestep or overpower them.
Congrats on a link from the NYDaily News!
retired teacher says
Congratulations 1000 plus times!!!!!!
I can’t count the number of commencement speeches I have heard, and this is by far
the absolute best. Wonderful, simply WONDERFUL!!!!
Your students are very fortunate to have had a teacher like you.
I pray those who disagree, will “get it” someday.
That speech was more about a guy trying to show off his uber-cleverness with the English language than about motivating students to take charge of their future. His speech was like a bland tasting wedding cake buried in a pile of fancy frosting. About 80% of what he said was just verbal bling.
His whole speech could have been:
“You’ve had it easy up till now with your parents feeding, clothing, housing and caring for you. Soon this will all change and you’ll need to change to meet that challenge. College will be harder than this and real life harder than college. If you skip college, you will face the same or greater hardships but get paid less. The only way I know to avoid all this is to get a liberal arts degree, a teaching credential and become a tenured teacher like me. Then you can talk about life without having to actually live it.”
You didn’t do well in your public oration classes, did you?
I’m so sorry that you are such a bitter person. Maybe if you had heard this speech at your graduation you would be a happier person today.
B WHite says
My nephew’s life ambition is to live in his parent’s basement for the rest of his life. Ideally, he would have a refrigerator, a microwave and have whatever food and drink he needs delivered to his lair, have his parents pay for them and NEVER leave. He’s 22 years-old and I believe he defines what a ‘useless eater’ is. But, who am I to judge? I think the single word that defines a whole generation is ‘whatever’.
Dr Kuni Beasley says
Dave – You can speak at mine.