Ah, high school graduation. Few days stand out as proud reminders of the hope and promise of youth than commencement day. It's usually a time for keynote speakers to instill supreme confidence and triumphant messages in the young minds of today, the leaders of tomorrow.
Sure, a little perspective is necessary, but the straight talk a teacher delivered Friday to the class of 2012 at Wellesley High School in Massachusetts is getting a lot of attention for its buzz-killing reality.
Wellesley English teacher David McCullough Jr. lauded the students for their individual accomplishments that brought them to graduation, pointing out that their gowns were exactly the same and that their diplomas are exactly the same.
“All of this is as it should be, because none of you is special,” he was quoted as saying in the Boston Herald.
“You are not special. You are not exceptional,” he continued. “Contrary to what your U-9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh-grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you… you’re nothing special.”
Think that's tough love? McCollough, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian David McCullough Sr., tore into any sense of entitlement or privilege the kids had managed to hold on to up to that point.
“Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. 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,” he said.
Wow, talk about mood-killers. How about this dagger? “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.”