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

SodaHead 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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Top Opinion

  • El Prez 2012/06/11 17:21:45
    I'm exceptional!
    El Prez
    +10
    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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Opinions

  • JackoClubs 2012/06/12 00:17:48 (edited)
    I'm exceptional!
    JackoClubs
    +1
    ...because I think he's right. Behold

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?...
  • lolitalovely 2012/06/12 00:12:06
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    lolitalovely
    +1
    I had junioritis all this year and I'm expecting a bad case of senioritis, so yes, I am like everyone. I'm not like everyone else though. I'm in the top 10% of my class.
  • MattIsTheGeekInPink 2012/06/12 00:06:15
    I'm exceptional!
    MattIsTheGeekInPink
    I work damn hard to be exceptional. I keep my grades up, I do extra credit, I'm in honors and AP classes, I don't party, I don't have sex, I don't drink or do drugs.
  • SOUL4REAL MattIsT... 2012/06/12 01:53:29
    SOUL4REAL
    +1
    How many other people are doing the same as you?
  • Anna MattIsT... 2012/06/12 04:42:54
    Anna
    +1
    I'm not looking down o you for this, what you're doing is great, but I can think of 10+ people off the top of my head who also fit this description.
  • Common ... MattIsT... 2012/06/12 04:53:46
    Common Sense Conservative
    Wow, you are boring. And just like millions of others.
  • Redneck 2012/06/12 00:02:26
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Redneck
    +4
    I have my talents, but so do everyone else. That speach is EXACTLY what every high school and college graduate needs to hear.
  • SquirmMaster 2012/06/11 23:53:40
    I'm exceptional!
    SquirmMaster
    I am better than a lot. My intelligence surpasses my peers and some adults. Sometimes they are so jealous that they get annoyed by my facts I tell them all the time. :P

    I am pretty unique too.
  • Redneck SquirmM... 2012/06/12 00:04:39
    Redneck
    Just make sure you're not an intelligent idiot. You know, the kind of person who is uber smart but has no social skills and can't function in society. Also, a little humility is an admirable trait.
  • The Inc... Redneck 2012/06/12 01:41:08
    The Incurable Pessimist
    I don't consider people without tact intelligent.
    Intelligent is eons higher than smart, this guy may be book smart but I wouldnt ever deem him intelligent.
  • Redneck The Inc... 2012/06/12 02:37:37
    Redneck
    There you go. That's a good way of putting it. Book smart, but dumb as a sack of hammers. :)
  • SquirmM... Redneck 2012/06/12 02:44:49
    SquirmMaster
    ...
  • Common ... SquirmM... 2012/06/12 04:54:34
    Common Sense Conservative
    Sounds like about 10 other people I know.
  • notokand 2012/06/11 23:51:05
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    notokand
    +1
    Except I'm not. I'm one in a million, which means there's only 7,000 other people like me!
  • Lucy 2012/06/11 23:48:30
    I'm exceptional!
    Lucy
    +1
    Pretty soon these graduates will have to face the real world. The last words they should hear from their teacher is how great they are. Who is this guy any way?
  • Common ... Lucy 2012/06/12 04:55:50
    Common Sense Conservative
    A very smart man.
  • The Inc... Common ... 2012/06/12 05:42:09
    The Incurable Pessimist
    Not necessarily.
    A honest and straightforward , ^NO frills attached man that's for sure.
  • Common ... The Inc... 2012/06/12 06:19:54
    Common Sense Conservative
    Brilliant actually!!!
  • Nameless 2012/06/11 23:47:05
    I'm exceptional!
    Nameless
    Well, I was exceptional (graduated from high school at 15) but I am referring more to my elder daughter. She worked over 20 hours a week, volunteered for several charities, took care of her younger sister when I was very ill, helped her dad, and graduated from high school with a weighted 5.98 gpa (AP and Honors classes). She did all of that while dealing with severe reactive hypoglycemia (nearly dying once) and having four reconstructive knee surgeries (2 on each leg) from 7th grade to her senior year in high school. If this teacher had said such garbage about my daughter, he would have had a very angry mother with whom to deal.
  • The Inc... Nameless 2012/06/12 01:43:55
    The Incurable Pessimist
    +1
    You have a hefty bias though. Also, unnecessary anger gets you nowhere. I'm sure your daughter would be smart to take the teachers words into account but ultimately let it not break her down.
  • Nameless The Inc... 2012/06/12 10:39:12 (edited)
    Nameless
    She's a PhD candidate now (got a full scholarship all the way through college/graduate/PhD). She's held her own and has never allowed a teacher's words to "break her down."

    I allowed her to fight most of her battles when she was growing up. I think that the teacher who gave that lecture should have given it to the parents years before and not loaded it on the students. Many parents are the ones who need to hear that and blaming the students for their parents failures as parents is just not right... I do agree with him in what he said, for the most part, but it was directed at the wrong people. Parents need to be told to teach their children how to think logically, how to present their arguments with conviction but respectfully, how to be secure in themselves - and not falsely thinking they are all that and then some...

    Our school district wanted to advance our daughter by 2 grades when she was in 2nd grade - and we declined. Why? Because we wanted our daughter to understand that sometimes things in life are rough and you just have to deal with it. We told her that she would probably be bored quite often - even being in the gifted program - but it was her responsibility to help other kids and to find ways to expand her learning. We were extremely poor but took her to...



    She's a PhD candidate now (got a full scholarship all the way through college/graduate/PhD). She's held her own and has never allowed a teacher's words to "break her down."

    I allowed her to fight most of her battles when she was growing up. I think that the teacher who gave that lecture should have given it to the parents years before and not loaded it on the students. Many parents are the ones who need to hear that and blaming the students for their parents failures as parents is just not right... I do agree with him in what he said, for the most part, but it was directed at the wrong people. Parents need to be told to teach their children how to think logically, how to present their arguments with conviction but respectfully, how to be secure in themselves - and not falsely thinking they are all that and then some...

    Our school district wanted to advance our daughter by 2 grades when she was in 2nd grade - and we declined. Why? Because we wanted our daughter to understand that sometimes things in life are rough and you just have to deal with it. We told her that she would probably be bored quite often - even being in the gifted program - but it was her responsibility to help other kids and to find ways to expand her learning. We were extremely poor but took her to places that would excite her and challenge her. We made her take responsibility for her actions - always. That included when she failed to turn in her homework (stuffed in her desk and we then discovered she has ADD) and got a "D" on her report card when in the 4th grade. The teacher wanted to take the papers and grade them and then give her a grade based on those homework papers - but we wanted her to learn a lesson. We worked together to help her with her ADD. She never got another "D."

    My point is that in this kind of situation, the kids were not the ones who should have had this lecture. It was seriously misdirected. Parents should have to sit through this speech at the beginning of every school year.

    Oh, and as far as anger goes... If my "anger" managed to make that teacher do what he should have done and directed that speech to parents before those young people graduated from high school and were on their way to real life - then the speech would have been completely unnecessary. He, then, could have been encouraging those students instead of berating them.
    (more)
  • Anna Nameless 2012/06/12 04:46:54 (edited)
    Anna
    +1
    You and your daughter are the exceptions. The thing about exceptions is they're rare. The guy's speech holds true for about 99.999...% of people out there.
  • Common ... Nameless 2012/06/12 04:56:57
    Common Sense Conservative
    And she's with about 7000 others
  • Nameless Common ... 2012/06/12 10:41:02
    Nameless
    7,000 is still pretty special when it's out of so many. And, you know what? I take a great amount of pride for raising such an outstanding person. A great amount of pride...
  • Common ... Nameless 2012/06/12 21:21:56
    Common Sense Conservative
    Good for you.
  • Maci 2012/06/11 23:45:18
  • Cameron Kirchhoff 2012/06/11 23:42:56 (edited)
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Cameron Kirchhoff
    +1
    I'm not really much of a speech giver. However, here is the speech that I would have show to the kids:

  • SOUL4REAL Cameron... 2012/06/12 01:50:02
    SOUL4REAL
    The statement made in this cartoon is the truth,if you are perfect what is there to look forward to? Life would be over for human beings if the were perfect but since we are not perfect we have alot to look forward too! Great Message!!
  • lurch 2012/06/11 23:35:24 (edited)
    I'm exceptional!
    lurch
    +1
    Checked the wrong box. I meant "Like everyone else.'

    Finally, someone speaks the truth to the graduates instead of filtered content. It's about time these students heard the honest answer as to what lies ahead. It beats high expectations, only to face disappointment. They need to know that success requires them to work their A$$ off - it won't be handed to them on a gold-plated platter by Mom and Dad.
  • Nameless lurch 2012/06/11 23:49:04
    Nameless
    We handed nothing to our daughter. She earned every accolade she got. Every single one. She is still earning them - and deserves the recognition she receives.
  • The Inc... Nameless 2012/06/12 01:45:31
    The Incurable Pessimist
    Stop preaching about it here. The students I have encountered have everything handed to them on a silver platter...it makes me mad which motivates me to try harder.
  • Calvin Harris ✌ 2012/06/11 23:35:08
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Calvin Harris ✌
    I'm so boring. :|
  • TKramar 2012/06/11 23:26:09
    I'm exceptional!
    TKramar
    I'm more intelligent than my "peers". Not that anyone really cares about that, except to be resentful and fearful at the same time.
  • Redneck TKramar 2012/06/12 00:08:42
    Redneck
    +1
    Okay, how do you apply this superior intelligence to bettering yourself and/or society? There are a lot of smart people out there who never amounted to anything because they were just flat lazy or had no social skills and couldn't function in society.
  • TKramar Redneck 2012/06/12 06:16:59
    TKramar
    Why should I benefit anyone but myself?
  • Redneck TKramar 2012/06/12 13:25:55
    Redneck
    That's the nature of working for someone else, they expect you to benefit them. your wife will expect you to benefit her, and your kids will dang sure expect you to benefit them. Also, we should always be on the look out for opportunities to help our fellow man.
  • TKramar Redneck 2012/06/12 14:24:56
    TKramar
    I'm certainly not having kids, and not particularly interested in having a wife either.

    I'm working for my own benefit, not for anyone else's.
  • Wulfdane 2012/06/11 23:21:00 (edited)
    I'm exceptional!
    Wulfdane
    These brats will learn what the OWS parasites have had to learn, you have to *work* for what you want.

    There are no free rides in the real world.

    Our Liberal public schools have created another generation of parasites, even lazier than the last.
  • Maci Wulfdane 2012/06/11 23:48:33
  • JohnT 2012/06/11 23:19:26
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    JohnT
    +2
    I thought it was a great speech. There is nothing wrong with giving a reality speech, less chance for disappointment when someones first boss tells them they have improvements to make to be a better team member. They won't take it so bad, and will strive to be special.

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