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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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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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  • selena costa 2012/06/12 18:42:32
    I'm exceptional!
    selena costa
    +2
    i liked his speech vary much
  • whateverbabynevermind 2012/06/12 18:00:36
    I'm exceptional!
    whateverbabynevermind
    I know I am. Maybe just the fact that I insist on that is what makes me exceptional, or unique. Maybe something else does. But I know I am not like everybody else. Nobody else is, either. I understand that people need tough love on occasion, but this was not one. They were celebrating that they were through with high school, they didn't want to hear that they were spoilt and useless, especially not from an English teacher of a mediocre high school.
  • Tara 2012/06/12 17:49:52
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Tara
    +1
    When it comes to education I'm nothing special. I think it's good what this guy's saying because they will understand when they don't get that job they want for example.
  • sammanilla 2012/06/12 17:05:16
    I'm exceptional!
    sammanilla
    +1
    You are all exceptional. You are all unique.

    McCullough wanted to be clever and made an interesting speech, not a great one and not the right one.
  • jere.ch... sammanilla 2012/06/12 19:02:23
  • sammanilla jere.ch... 2012/06/12 21:55:27
  • jere.ch... sammanilla 2012/06/12 22:23:58
    jere.chievres
    GRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Cute!
  • Mike 2012/06/12 16:30:43
    I'm exceptional!
    Mike
    +2
    everyone is exceptional, the bitch is finding out what it is
  • GINGERBREAD 2012/06/12 16:29:00
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    GINGERBREAD
    +5
    You are only "SPECIAL" to your parents, (SOMETIMES). Understand this, no one is owed anything. And you will be judged on what you have accomplished. This idea that everyone is "ENTITLED" to something is pure BS. You have the right to LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. That's it. You have the right to pursue happiness, but there is no guarantee that you will accomplish your pursuit. Now, along with these "RIGHTS", comes "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY". This is what's missing in our education. "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY". You do not have the right to do whatever you want, then, because of your "POOR" choices that you made, somebody else have the responsibility to support you and your bad choices.
  • jere.ch... GINGERB... 2012/06/12 19:03:04
  • prosper... GINGERB... 2012/06/12 20:27:37
    prosperhappily
    +1
    Excellent!
  • ⚥Κόζμω Græme اليا Mongrain 2012/06/12 16:07:37 (edited)
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    ⚥Κόζμω Græme اليا Mongrain
    +2
    BILL GATES' SPEECH TO MT. WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL in Visalia, California.

    Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

    CORRECTION, original source cited one down from the comment below.

    To anyone with kids of any age, here's some advice. Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

    Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!

    Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

    Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

    Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

    Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

    Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

    Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, c...







    BILL GATES' SPEECH TO MT. WHITNEY HIGH SCHOOL in Visalia, California.

    Love him or hate him, he sure hits the nail on the head with this!

    CORRECTION, original source cited one down from the comment below.

    To anyone with kids of any age, here's some advice. Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

    Rule 1: Life is not fair -- get used to it!

    Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

    Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

    Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

    Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

    Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

    Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

    Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

    Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

    Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

    Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.
    (more)
  • jere.ch... ⚥Κόζμω ... 2012/06/12 19:04:30
    jere.chievres
    +1
    Bill Gates was right!
  • ⚥Κόζμω ... jere.ch... 2012/06/13 06:25:20 (edited)
    ⚥Κόζμω Græme اليا Mongrain
    +2
    Actually, this story is apocryphal, it was originally composed by Charles J. Sykes, author of "Dumbing Down Our Kids, Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add" 1996. There were 3 more:

    12: Smoking does not make you look cool. It makes you look moronic. Next time you're out cruising, watch a 11-year-old with a butt in his/her mouth. That's what you look like to anybody over 20. Ditto for "expressing yourself" with purple hair &/or pierced/tattoo'd body parts.

    13: You are not immortal. If you are under the impression that living fast, dying young and leaving a beautiful corpse is romantic, you obviously haven't seen one of your peers at room temperature lately.

    14: Enjoy this while you can. Sure parents can be a pain, school's a bother and life is depressing. But someday you'll realize how wonderful it was to be a kid. Maybe you should start now. You're welcome.
  • polkastria ⚥Κόζμω ... 2012/06/13 06:04:42
    polkastria
    +2
    http://www.snopes.com/politic...

    I knew I'd seen this before...
    Real info on the list...
    This is really the work of Charles J. Sykes.

    Ann Landers and Paul Harvey have also used the list but didn't give the original writer the credit.
  • wow-really 2012/06/12 15:56:11
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    wow-really
    +4
    But in an extraordinary way ; )
    I agreed with everything he said. Too bad these kids had to wait 18 years hear this truth.
    In the inner city I work in, yesterday, 8th graders had their 8th grade "completion" ceremonies, and in the fall, they will be freshman in high school. Now if people didn't know they were only 8th graders, I imagine most would think they were graduating college, with honors, with all the fan fair. Limos and expensive alfits, with parties that followed Paris Hilton won't mind being caught at. It's all very ridiculus considering that most won't graduate from high school. Perhaps the parents figure this is their opportunity to do so as the future may not look as bright. It's all very sad and true. We've dumbed down this society so much that even our so-called best is not good enough compared to what others around the world are doing. I had an exchange student from Nigeria, who lived in Germany, stay with me for a semester. He knows 3 languages, took all IB courses, and is able to graduate from college here at the age of 18. However, when he goes back to Germany, he will have to continue his studies to receive a degree acknowledged there, as they have told him, our degrees are too "elementary" and not recognized as valid.
    We need to stop coddling these kids and telling them how very special they are because, very special people are always the first to be Entitled and Enabled. Lord knows, we have too many of those already!
  • jere.ch... wow-really 2012/06/12 19:07:14
    jere.chievres
    +1
    Amen to that, making idiots THINK they are smart is not a good thing.
  • ♥Gabs1697♥ 2012/06/12 15:45:38
    I'm exceptional!
    ♥Gabs1697♥
    +1
    But I think it's changing day by day...
  • jere.ch... ♥Gabs1697♥ 2012/06/12 19:07:54
    jere.chievres
    +2
    Yes it is getting worse by the day.
  • ♥Gabs1697♥ jere.ch... 2012/06/13 05:06:00
    ♥Gabs1697♥
    +1
    Excuse me.....
  • Sass 2012/06/12 15:30:01
    I guess I'm just like everyone else...
    Sass
    +4
    We have spooned fed the current generation with their "exceptional-ness", let's see...how's that working out???? We have the most violent generation I can remember. We have a generation of "it's all about ME" people. We have a generation of people who think everyone else owes them something because they are "all that"! We have a generation of moochers.
  • Lanikai Sass 2012/06/12 15:32:02
    Lanikai
    +8
    LOL, I had a recent high school grad apply for a job with us. I told him we have to train him, and offered $10.00 per hour to start, he said he couldn't work for less then $22.00 an hour cause he needed to maintain his current lifestyle.

    A freaking high schooler with ZERO skills who has never worked is telling ME I need to pay him more than I make????? No, nyet, not gonna happen.
  • Eli Joh... Lanikai 2012/06/12 16:00:50
  • Lanikai Eli Joh... 2012/06/12 16:07:44
    Lanikai
    +4
    Naw, he wasn't worth a child abuse charge.

    But he WAS an idiot.
  • prosper... Lanikai 2012/06/12 20:35:06
    prosperhappily
    +1
    So, in your estimation, was he stupid, or just naive?
  • Lanikai prosper... 2012/06/12 21:15:35
    Lanikai
    +1
    Both.

    he has no clue how the world works and how employers hire/retain/train nor what the costs involved are to the business. He thinks the world should accommodate him.
  • prosper... Lanikai 2012/06/12 21:28:25
    prosperhappily
    +2
    Pretty common. I hate to admit it, but I thought that myself for a little while. Figured things out pretty quickly once I got out in the real world tho'.

    Do you believe that this is something the schools encourage in order to create weak, compliant citizens?
  • Lanikai prosper... 2012/06/12 21:31:56
    Lanikai
    +2
    Yes, since they are told (here anyway) where the places are to go if they need "help". I suspect it is all useful idiot stuff, but many DO become productive for a period of time. Those who don't go on to college, often get jobs at Walmart or the like and keep them until their friends start giving birth and getting an apartment, food stamps, free medical care-it takes away all incentive to work and earn your own, if your friends get everything free off your labors.
  • prosper... Lanikai 2012/06/12 21:49:03
    prosperhappily
    +2
    "Help" is one thing. Being allowed to become a leach is something entirely different.
  • ⚥Κόζμω ... prosper... 2012/06/13 07:28:37
    ⚥Κόζμω Græme اليا Mongrain
    +3
    One serious problem is the "culture of single-parenting" that's been tolerated & leads to generational Welfare cases. Or octo-moms.
  • prosper... ⚥Κόζμω ... 2012/06/13 14:39:29
    prosperhappily
    +2
    IMO, that's not a black and white issue. At least not all the time. My sister was a single mom for awhile, because her husband died. In other cases, one parent simply bails.

    I get you tho. I think we've gone to far in "normalizing" that. I don't think we should be stigmatizing people who just got caught in a bad situation. But, having worked in the system, I saw many people who were completely irresponsible and thought nothing of having a bunch of babies for the taxpayers to support.
  • ⚥Κόζμω ... prosper... 2012/06/14 00:49:56
    ⚥Κόζμω Græme اليا Mongrain
    +1
    That's what I meant, mainly women who've had (no liability implied, goes both ways) man-trouble/trauma (as well as some Femi-Nazi rhetoric) attempt to bring up a child without a father figure on State Expense.
    If someone ran a psych survey on such children, I'd think you find a lot of problems with them, same with the parent.
  • Lanikai prosper... 2012/06/13 14:07:29
    Lanikai
    It was always intended to be a "hand up" not a lifestyle choice for cradle to grave care at the expense of others.
  • prosper... Lanikai 2012/06/13 14:30:20
    prosperhappily
    +2
    I understand that. The ideals weren't as bad as the reality. But, as the old saying goes"Give some people an inch and they'll take a mile".

    I worked in "the system" for a few years. During that time, I had to deny several people who tried to live "the right way". They finished school, held jobs, saved . PAID TAXES etc. When they got laid off, through no fault of their own, the "safety net" failed to catch them. It did just work for the people who failed in every way (quit school, several out-of -wedlock kids by several different fathers, NEVER worked, never paid a dime into the system that they took so much out of etc. That just strikes me as wrong.

    There were also tons of people who played all kinds of games with the system in order to avoid working. The most popular was probably having a baby every 3 years, just when it's about time to sign up for the jobs program.
  • Lanikai prosper... 2012/06/13 14:43:11
    Lanikai
    +1
    Which is why we have welfare moms with 5 or 6 kids and multi generational welfare-why bother learning, earning if the FED will hand you everything you need for FREE?

    My dad was a case manager for council on aging after he retired from 32 years in the service. He went to one community where 80% of the residents are lifelong system users, and they were in the 7th generation of welfare/SSDisability families.

    SSdisability is the new thing for kids. Feed them tons of sugar, take them to the DR on a sugar high, get an add/adhd diagnosis, and get a paycheck for yourself and them for life.

    Yep, LOTS of users.
  • prosper... Lanikai 2012/06/13 15:04:05
    prosperhappily
    +2
    Agree 100%.

    I was raised to work, if I possibly can. If that means temping, or working a job I hate, I do it. I've done it for years. Safety net programs are only there (for me) if the only other option is crime.

    It seems to me that we have far too many people who will work only if they can't find a government program to pay their way. That seriously pisses me off. At times, I get so mad I call for the abolition of safety net programs. At other times, I have slightly more sympathy, at least for people who make an honest attempt to EARN their living rather than leaching off others.

    At any rate, the system is self-correcting, as we are seeing in Greece. But that correction will be DAMN painful.
  • Sass prosper... 2012/06/13 15:05:01
    Sass
    +1
    My son was involved with a woman like that. They split up briefly and she became pregnant by her ex. For a while there my son was going to raise the baby as his own, but something happened and they broke up again. I saw on Facebook where she was already talking about having another baby if this one wasn't the sex she wanted. Yep, she's on welfare and all the other things that go with it, and of course the Dad of the 1st baby (and now supposedly this one) doesn't pay child support.
  • prosper... Sass 2012/06/13 15:23:06
    prosperhappily
    +1
    Your son is better off without her. she's a leach.

    A responsible person would say "Holy crap, I've got a kid. I've got to get my life together and learn a skill I can use to support us both". Instead, she's thinking about deliberately having a baby she can't afford and having everyone else work to support it.

    As I said above, it's people like her that piss me off and make me call for the abolition of those programs. I really resent being forced to foot the bill for people like her, who are deliberately (or carelessly) making the problem worse.
  • Sass prosper... 2012/06/13 15:34:08
    Sass
    +1
    Oh, I definitely agree! When we voiced our concerns about him making a life with her, our son disowned us (publicly and on Facebook no less!). That was back in Jan. 2012, still haven't heard a word from him.
  • prosper... Sass 2012/06/13 16:07:31
    prosperhappily
    +2
    DAMN! That's incredibly harsh.

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