From the saying what needs to be said department: teacher tells graduating students "you’re not special "
A straight-talking English teacher at Wellesley High School set out to
take students down a notch in his speech to the class of 2012, by
telling them they’re nothing special.
“You are not special. You are not exceptional,” David McCullough Jr.
told graduating seniors from the affluent Massachusetts town last
The teacher's controversial advice caught the nation's eye, in an age
where many believe today's youth suffer from a sense of self-importance.
"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."
Driving the point home, he added, "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."
He continued to tell it like it is. Americans have come to appreciate
accolades more than genuine achievement, he said, and will compromise
standards in order to secure a higher spot on the social totem pole.
"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.
In the quest for accomplishment, everything gets watered down. A 'B' is
the new 'C.' Midlevel courses are the new advanced placement, the
The reaction to MuCullough’s blunt advice was overwhelmingly positive,
both from students at the receiving end of the reality check and people
who saw the speech as it circulated the Internet this week.
"For once someone told us what we need to hear and not necessarily what
we wanted to hear," said one commenter on The Swellesley Report.
"Undoing all 'they've' done in on 10-minute speech. My faith in the world may have been restored," another commenter said.
McCullough, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, explained his provocative words on Fox News Wednesday.
He said kids need independence. They need to struggle and stumble to
make it in today's difficult, competitive world. But too often parents
are there to throw the pillows on the floor.
"So many of the adults around them — the behavior of the adults around
them — gives them this sort of inflated sense of themselves. And I
thought they needed a little context, a little perspective," McCullough
told Fox News. "To send them off into the world with an inflated sense
of themselves is doing them no favors."
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