Do You Agree With The Message? High School Teacher Tells Graduating Class “You’re Nothing Special”

June 11, 2012  |  

One thing is true, Americans have a bad rap internationally for being self-absorbed individuals. Maybe that’s why English teacher David McCullough Jr . decided to take a different approach to a commencement speech he delivered to the graduating high school class of an affluent Massachusetts town.

“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped,” McCullough said in his speech. “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. … But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not.”

This may come off as harsh and uninspiring but McCullough’s speech reflected on his observations that students were motivated by awards and prizes, rather than pure enrichment. “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 the Guatemalans,” he said.

His last words emphasized his point that students should enjoy the pure journey of life and invest in social service free of selfish ambitions.

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.

What do you think of the teacher’s speech? Are we pampering our children and inflating their egos a little too much these days?

You can read the full speech here

 

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