High School Teacher Gives Tough Love Graduation Speech: Are You Exceptional or Just Like Everyone Else?

News 2012/06/11 13:00:00
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Usually, graduation speeches encourage grads to charge into the world with their chins held high, that diploma proudly tucked under their arm. You've graduated college; you're exceptional; it's time to make something of yourself. But that's not exactly how David McCullough Jr.'s speech went when the English teacher spoke at Wellesley High's commencement this year. On the contrary. He told graduates they're just like everyone else, and the controversial message immediately went viral.

McCullough said, "You are not special. You are not exceptional ... 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 ... You've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble wrapped ... We have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement ... The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you're not special. Because everyone is." What do you think of the tough love speech?

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  • El Prez 2012/06/11 17:21:45
    I'm exceptional!
    El Prez
    Because I have spent the better part of my life making sure that I am exceptional. However, by the standards set by Mr. McCullough, I am not unique. Unique is rare, exceptional is more easily attained. The later day inclination to give trophys for participation, praise all miltary personel as heros and in general dilute real achievment and heroism, has created something of a feeling of special priviledge among some of our youth. The "tough love" speech might be useful so long as the message of carrying on to find your exceptional character is contained within. He was trying to wake them to the truth and that is always good.

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  • Lina Blub 2012/06/26 18:40:38
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Lina Blub
    only a few can be special for this world, but we can be special for those who love us :3
  • jackolantyrn356 2012/06/21 13:47:48
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    The grsade point is 4.5 or 4.6 in all solid subjects now that is exceptional. What ever else grade points are all Run of the Mill. Doesn't mean you can't make it, but you better get started and make a few business contacts. Not all are Edic=sons or Teslas or for that matter Marilyn Monroes.
  • Yars the Great 2012/06/15 11:52:11
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Yars the Great
    He may have been a bit cynical and probably could have said it better than he did, but he isn't setting them up for disappointment by laying it straight out to them. The sad reality is that most of those kids are going to become just like everyone else despite their dreams or future goals. Before enrolling at a University, I was interviewed by a few different enrollment advisers and they all told me the same thing. " We have to say this to all students, there's a good possibility that you will never do anything with the degree that you earn". And most people I know who graduated college wound up working dead end jobs and I'm still at the job I've been working the past nine years making chump change. Too much encouragement can lead to disappointment and even though he sounded a bit harsh, he was straight forward with them which could possibly prevent them from being disappointed by keeping a realistic approach on life.
  • C-ZAR™ of the PHÆT 2012/06/15 04:29:50
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    C-ZAR™ of the PHÆT
    Can't hate on him for keeping it REAL, you gotta respect that.
  • Sister Jean 2012/06/14 21:51:59
    I'm exceptional!
    Sister Jean
    God made us each special
  • a7xwckd 2012/06/14 02:01:29
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Not too different really. So yeah, I'm not exceptional.
  • Red 2012/06/13 16:04:03
  • Bowman 2012/06/13 14:50:18
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    I'm exceptionally smart, but not driven, therefore with no goals in mind, I'm just like the average guy. I think highly of myself but am not motivated to change the world, just the laundry.
  • Tennessee3501 2012/06/13 14:25:50
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    I saw portions of his speech on television. By making his speech and his pronouncements so unique, he gave the most famous graduation speech of 2012! It has gone viral on You Tube.
  • Nabael 2012/06/13 08:01:26
    I'm exceptional!
    I can actually claim this, as I am about to graduate with a BA in premed with a 3.9, and got accepted into three med schools :D.
    Just sayin...
  • Tenness... Nabael 2012/06/13 14:27:35
    Congratulations! You have a bright future!
  • Miko Mikomiko 2012/06/13 06:41:55
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Miko Mikomiko
    Oh life, why do you have to be so cruel
  • polkastria 2012/06/13 05:51:01
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    And I think the man had a real point to make to that graduating class.. I don't understand why people are up in arms over this.. I've watched it and read the entire speech and I don't see a problem with it at all.
  • Adrint 2012/06/13 03:36:05
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    We are pampering kids way too much these days.
  • mzemma 2012/06/13 02:33:27
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    personally, I think it was a "rude awakening" speech but the kids won't get it.. it is too late... they are already to pampered and expect everything to be handed to them...making them lack common sense and drive to achieve..... anything. They are perpetual moochers and probably live at home until they are forty.. letting mommy and daddy support them. Thank the universe I am as old as I am... because it appears to me that human beings are digressing rather than progressing.... crazy
  • Charles R. Anderson 2012/06/13 02:28:20
    I'm exceptional!
    Charles R. Anderson
    Individuals are complex and highly differentiated. We are all unique, though perhaps some are not unique in particularly productive and useful ways. The argument that we should not strive for easy recognition, but should instead read and try to understand, think for ourselves, and we should experience for ourselves, was all good. But he contradicted this as he made the standard appeal to selflessness. If we really wish to improve the lives of others, we first have to value our own life and improve it. This is anything but selfless. If we are learn to love others, we must first learn to love ourselves. This is not selfless. We have to develop and explore our own unique nature, before we can really appreciate the unique nature of others. This is not selfless.

    I give this speaker high marks on many things he says, yet he also misses the point on some key issues.
  • alun.palmer 2012/06/13 01:42:03
    I'm exceptional!
    This speech is sort of de-motivational, IMHO.

    As for me, I'm in the upper quartile of IQ, speak 3 languages with varying levels of proficiency and have a Bachelor's degree in a hard subject from a good college, albeit I graduated by the skin of my teeth. Just how far above average do you have to be for you to be exceptional? Sure, there are a lot of people smarter than me, but there are a whole lot more than that who aren't. Does that make me exceptional?
  • Lizzy alun.pa... 2012/06/13 08:51:23
    What college in the UK did you gain your Degree ?
  • Ozymandias 2012/06/13 01:26:00
  • hasher 2012/06/13 00:59:48
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    i think he is being realistic about people. we had a speaker similiar to that at my sons graduation. he said theres nothin wrong with working an ordinary job that your attitude has a lot to do withhow you will do in life. some people have the attitude if you pay me more i will do more work but thats not how life works.
  • alun.pa... hasher 2012/06/13 01:45:27
    I remember my college graduation clearly, or at least the speech by Lord Pilkington. He said that he got where he was by marrying the boss's daughter, and advised us to do the same! How's that for honesty? I wonder if he was sober when he said it?
  • Katherine 2012/06/13 00:54:10
    I'm exceptional!
    Sounds like more communist drivel. "We're all exactly the same" classless society, blah.
  • Sue Deenim 2012/06/13 00:21:41
    I'm exceptional!
    Sue Deenim
    It depends on who you are trying to prove your worth to. I am exceptional to my family and friends. When I worked, I was an exceptional employee. Part of my religion is to try to treat others exceptionally. I think we are all exceptional to some and to those that don't see us as exceptional, who cares. Our lives are about those who are exceptional to us and who think we are too.
  • RJeffreySavlov 2012/06/12 23:53:32
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    The typical " I'm special attitude is what has made this country a population of wimps with an attitude.
  • konalimu RJeffre... 2012/06/13 15:26:54
    You are sooo right on the topic. Have confidence is one thing we all should have, however, the pervasiveness of I am the best, I am special, I am it... kinda nauseating.

    when the mass believes one is "exceptional", then comes the " entitlement" sentiment.
    I am " special", therefore I should have this and that...
  • PonToki 2012/06/12 22:08:14
    I'm exceptional!
    Regardless of that guy's speech, there's only one me. I don't usually brag, but I am my own person and I'm quite the hard worker. I'm not gonna let some speech ruin my opinion of myself. If everybody thought they were just like others life would be a lot less interesting and I doubt people would be as motivated to succeed.
  • Farbiger 2012/06/12 21:42:30 (edited)
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    I don't think I've done anything extraordinary that most teens around my age have done. Some of us, if not all, wish to be exceptional, but the sad truth is unless you get off your arse and apply yourself with all you have and possibly more, you've kind of just wasted your potential, no?

    Now if I managed to cure some type of disease or found all the answers to life or something, I'll probably hold my head a little higher, but until that happens I'm just like everybody else... Maybe a little funnier than some, or just delusional. XD
  • Michael 2012/06/12 21:35:41
    I'm exceptional!
    Obviously, he has risen in a field he knows nothing about, that is academia!
  • Mark 2012/06/12 21:33:05
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    To use that tired ole cliche, he is telling it like it is.
    One school telling their kids they aren't exceptional. Thousands of schools telling their charges they ARE exceptional. Bit of an oxymoron going on.
  • sockpuppet 2012/06/12 21:22:24
    I'm exceptional!
    Taken a lot of lumps over the years, but I'm better than most at some things, worse than most at others. On balance, I figure I'm well ahead of the power curve. :O)
  • The One 2012/06/12 21:08:24
    I'm exceptional!
    The One
    I am not in high school anymore!!!
  • prosperhappily 2012/06/12 20:25:42
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Exceptional is not something you're born with. It's something you earn.
    If you think you're exceptional & you haven't done anything extraordinary, you're probably just spoiled.
  • sockpuppet prosper... 2012/06/12 21:23:59
    That was a very good answer! "Quote of the Day" material.
  • prosper... sockpuppet 2012/06/12 21:28:51
    Thank you very much!
  • Reuben Rennick 2012/06/12 20:19:06
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Reuben Rennick
    I've heard stranger graduation speeches before though.ive heard stranger graduation speeches
  • Mog of War 2012/06/12 19:55:06
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Mog of War
    I'm not special because everyone is special. I have things I'm exceptional at and just as many things I'm sub-par at. The man in this speech gave a wonderful statement, which should no doubt stick with all who listened. And thanks to Youtube, people will be able to remember it for the future. I find the quote mining of this guy's speech to be a tad on the side of poor ethos. "Usually, graduation speeches encourage grads to charge into the world with their chins held high," and this speech is no exception. I also would like to point out, that this was a commencement speech for a HIGH SCHOOL, not a college.
  • Margaret Jacobson 2012/06/12 19:54:45
    I'm exceptional!
    Margaret Jacobson
    I am exceptional in ONE thing only.............I believe that nothing is truly FREE !! EVERYTHING COSTS SOMETHING TO SOMEONE, SOMEHOW, SOMEWHERE
  • HarleyCharley 2012/06/12 19:48:21
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    but I work my ass off to get ahead...
  • Red HarleyC... 2012/06/13 16:10:34
  • jere.chievres 2012/06/12 18:59:43
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    I am pretty average, but had two very successful careers and no longer need to vwork. There are VERY FEW EXCEPTIONAL PERSONS. This guy is correct.
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