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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  • foobar 2012/06/11 16:48:09
    I'm exceptional!
    I was raised to use common sense, to observe my surroundings, to adapt, to be accountable for my actions, to be honest with myself and others, to make plans, stick to them, and be proud of my decisions. I was taught to solve problems. In this society those characteristics make me exceptional if you go by the numbers. If we all believe we have those characteristics (and believe me, I don't see it if that is the case) then we should have a great society.

    If our politicians and businessmen are a reflection of the culture's mores, then I don't think we are teaching many, if any, of these things any more. So the guy was pretty much dead on target and the only controversy should be why others aren't saying the same thing...and its long overdue (20 years at least).
  • Vijay Pawar 2012/06/11 16:46:36
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Vijay Pawar
    I am not exceptional, Yes just like others, but something in me I feel is above the everyone.
  • PhantomDream 2012/06/11 16:46:12
    I'm exceptional!
    Everybody is the same, but everybody has qualities that make them substantially different from anybody else. I think his speech was wonderful though.
  • Emily Barrington 2012/06/11 16:35:48
    I'm exceptional!
    Emily Barrington
    Everyones different in their own way, nobody looks the same, has the same range of talents, therefore we are all exceptional in our own way.
  • Red_Horse Emily B... 2012/06/11 16:44:05
  • Emily B... Red_Horse 2012/06/11 17:37:30
    Emily Barrington
    I agree. But remember, people like Einstein and Hawking started off as kids just like we did, but they made somthing of their talents and they went from being like us to making a change, and the fact that we one day could be like that if we play our cards right, makes us exceptional.
  • Red_Horse Emily B... 2012/06/11 17:38:56
  • Emily B... Red_Horse 2012/06/11 17:42:55
    Emily Barrington
    Haha that's true. But people are more than just a being, because they are a being with unique things attached. But from just being a being? Yes I agree ;-)
  • JCLadybug 2012/06/11 16:30:01
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    I love his speech. If more people infused reality into high school grads, I wouldn't have to deal with their "I'm so smart" attitude (and lack of studying) in general chemistry and beyond. Even smart people have to study...that is why they are smart.....just saying.

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