Wellesley High teacher to graduating seniors: Get over yourselves

The Swellesley Report posts a copy of the speech one teacher gave at graduation this year.



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Did it

I wrote something in the same vein many years ago. The gist of it was that the graduates were not the leaders of tomorrow - they were the followers of tomorrow, and the sooner they learned to deal with it the better. But the Governor of my state was our guest speaker, so the Principal took me aside and told me to tone it down. It was as if a 4 year old Wes Anderson was in the audience.


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Absolutely terrific. He tells it like it is. It's about time.


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It goes without saying that we hope that the kids were paying attention, however, upon reflection, I think we would all be better off if their parents were paying attention.

Some not too subtle digs at helicopter parenting, those. I wonder how long it will be until some Tarhe parent is calling for this guy's job on account of his denting the self esteem of his students.

Side note - although it was (obviously) not my best or favorite subject, its funny how those English teachers, so often accused of being detached from reality amongst their books, give the most down-to-earth speeches, isn't it?

But I thought

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there's no value in a humanities degree, and that humanities students DESERVE to be drowning in student debt while working as a part-time barista as punishment for not majoring in engineering and being able to get a real job.

Or at least, that's what most of the kids in that audience were told every day of their life before that day. Either you make lots of money, or you don't matter.

If eveyrone was STEM

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Our economy would be screwed. Some places with high rates of college graduates in STEM fields already are, driving down wages and driving up costs.

The real problem is grade creep, and also job requirement creep.

I have people above me with HS degrees but the years put in, meanwhile people below me doing HS level work but being required to have a BA/BS and 3-3.5 GPA and pitiful wages for the cost of their education.

Education needs to get on the ball and stop the snowflake syndrome, but the requirement creep in lots of areas of business is also horribly damaging. And it's only gotten worse in the great recession.

I agree...

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Not everyone should have a STEM major. I'm just tired of people insulting me for my "useless" liberal arts major. I see it every day in the news, saying that universities need to close useless departments, only give loans to science majors, etc.

Anyway, 10 years back everyone went to law school because "lawyers make tons of money and always have jobs!" Now there are too many lawyers, the pay is dropping, and there are more lawyers than job openings. If everyone majored in the sciences, the same thing would happen.

Also, I have no desire to drive over a bridge or fly in an airplane built by someone who wanted to get rich quick.


Frak boomers too

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should have added that.

A generation that took the treasurers their parents left them, the wealth they themselves created, spent against their children futures and flushed it all away on cheap plastic, a housing bubble, and vanity.

You don't preside over the largest reduction in the middle class and wages in history and call someone else spoiled and entitled.

So hurry up and get off our damn lawn, cause we got a shit ton of damage to fix pops.


I'm a little confused, but I think that I might agree

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I had a bit of difficulty understanding your comment, but if it intended to convey something like:

A generation that had its peak (or near-peak) earning years span the two biggest economic expansions in the the modern era (the mid-80s and late 90s), was able to buy houses that they could sell today (yes, even now) for well in excess of 10x what they paid for them, did not incur huge debts in obtaining higher education (and/or were able to get very good paying jobs without even having to go to and pay for college), paid federal income taxes at or near the lowest marginal rates in the modern era during said peak earning years and still apparently managed to not save much or anything for retirement and still thinks it should be able to retire at 62 shouldn't really be complaining, well then, I guess I could agree.

I long ago

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came to the realization most of my generation will not be afforded a retirement as yours will, including myself. We'll probably have to go through a second great depression before any hope of things turning around too, from the look of our elders and messed up politics.

When my retirement age rolls around, Michael? Huh?

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I'm sorry if you thought my comment was mean-spirited, as that was not the intent. I was admittedly a little hard-nosed in my recitation of what has transpired over the last 40 years, but hard truths aren't pleasant. Since that hard truth is going to hit me and millions like me more than anyone else, I'm not worried about putting it out there in terms that might be a bit shocking to some.

But here's the bigger thing, Michael - because we find ourselves in the situation that I described, and I am of the mind that we must honor promises, particularly those to previous generations (no matter how ill-advised they were and are) I don't expect to retire (or even if I wanted to, I don't expect that I would be able to) within any currently understood meaning of that word. Frankly, I believe that in 20 years, everyone in their "retirement" will be saying to me and everyone else in my generation (if any of us is so foolish as to express concern about our "retirement") that, "you guys have known since you were in high school that social security program would become insolvent or that benefits would have to be greatly reduced, so why haven't you saved more in your 401(k)s, roths and traditional IRAs? Don't cry to us." And frankly, as infuriating as that will be to so many of my generation, the retirees will be, in large part, correct.

Luckily for the baby boomers, I am not alone in my generation (mid 30s) with this understanding/feeling. Unfortunately for the baby boomers, I am not so sure that there are enough of us that feel this way to ensure that the baby boomers can have that retirement they've gone through life expecting.

Now tell me again why I am simple minded or mean spirited?

Calling my comment simple minded brought to mind what the 50-something HR lady told me when I was setting up a deferred comp. program at my first job after college and commented on its importance since I didn't expect Social Security to be around when I was in my 70s. She said "oh honey, don't you worry, there will always be social security - just keep electing Democrats." If you're looking tag someone with being simple minded, I suggest we look for her and the millions like her.

If it's any consolation

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I don't think 401K's will help us either, because I do believe we will have a major market crash / depression brought on by income inequality and the shrinking middle class. History says it's coming. 401K's / IRA's will not be spared.

And any which way you slice it, it's because the boomer generation was unable or unwilling to save and invest in the next generation, like their parents did.

I fell bad for those that are not like that, but are part of that generation; but they also did allow it to happen on their watch.

I hope to god I'm wrong, but I fear I'm right. We're making the same damn mistakes we did before the first world wide crash and drifting towards disaster.


Completely Irresponsible

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I think this is quite possibly the dumbest thing I have ever heard someone say. It sounds like a man who is completely pathetic and disappointed in his own life. Reading his speech it shows that he has no idea what he is talking about and is just ranting. It isn't gutsy to say this is sad that a person would want to rob young adults of an achievement. This teacher is a complete joke of a man and doesn't have an ounce of professionalism in his entire body. I will bet this guy is tenured and can't be fired and knowing this tries to do something to get himself noticed. Anyone want to know why our education system is going down the crapper we unprofessional scum like this teaching. Just because you are a nothing who has to use a high school commencement to get yourself noticed that is completely sad. Here is an idea do something noble to get yourself noticed.

Its truth. Its why most of

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Its truth. Its why most of them are unemployed. They have self-esteem but no actual ability to really do anything but graduate. Face it most of us aren't world changers. We are future servants of successful people that weren't smothered on by helicopter parents. They probably earned their way without believing they were special or relevant. If you read the biographies of very successful people, most of them came from poverty or working class homes. Homes where their parents probably didn't have time or desire to treat their kids like they were royalty. You know what it going to happen to most of this generation? They will return home to their parents after graduation or take jobs they could have performed in high school. Where I work, the HR manger says the one of the reasons why unemployment is so high in the youngest generation, they believe they deserve jobs they can't even perform. They believe because they went to college it qualifies them automatically be successful. He says they literally say they deserve the job because they are spectacular. He really did have someone say they were spectacular. WTF? They simply have no skills, no experience, yet they believe they earnestly deserve to have the job because their special. Most HR managers probably won't admit it...but if most of them have that attitude it's why Gen X'ers and baby boomers are probably the generations actually employed. We are quickly becoming a spoiled and selfish country, with lots of self-esteem & narcissism, but no skills, wisdom, or proper social & work place etiquette. You're not that special. I'm not that special. Grow the fark America! Every graduating class should hear those exact words.

Not really

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They're prepared.

The real story is businesses will no longer shoulder the costs of training new hires. They want candidates that have experience (IE they did train them, but for free through unpaid internships) or they want an exact fit to their work and systems right out of college. I'm not talking esteemed positions here, this is now the MO of entry level.

Add that to the requirement creep for rather simple jobs that have only required HS degrees in the past, and we got a problem.

HR departments are part at fault, and so too are boomers desperately trying to erect barriers of entry to protect their jobs a little while longer.

Kid graduating from HS and college are much more technological savvy, on top of actually having to know more than their parents generation did. Calculus and Chemistry is increasingly a HS requirement. There's a lot more students need to process now, than before. They're also expected to be even more productive than their parents.

Experience and maturity comes from experience and maturity. Boomers, standing atop their hill have apparently forgot where they themselves have come from, and the investments and sacrifices their parents made for them. Someone gave their pot smoking, rock listing, no-nothing hippy ass a chance once.

And now they seem bent on not repaying the favor. Not surprising when you look at everything else they squandered away.

Everyone loves to hate on the

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Everyone loves to hate on the Millenials. Truth is, no generation loves itself to death more and has accomplished less than the Boomers.

RE: College grads - the successful ones (if $ is the success indicator you choose) are trained in programs that have curriculum centered around 'this will be your job when you graduate'. I find it unfortunate because, imho, college should be an opportunity to develop your critical/abstract thoughts. It's so fashionable to talk about these liberal arts degrees as useless, but procedures can be taught in a week after graduation. I prefer to work with people who have developed abilities to use their intuition and interpersonal skills. Just my .02

Dude, this is Wellesly High.

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Dude, this is Wellesly High. Most of these kids are not going to be unemployed. Most of them are going to go to decent colleges and universities, graduate, and be employed. Some of them will land lucrative careers right out of college, some of them will be underemployed, and still others will go on to get graduate or professional degrees.

Completely pathetic?

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Completely pathetic? Disappointed with his own life? Complete joke of a man? Not one ounce of professionalism in his body? Tenured? You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. This "joke of a man" is the most well known and respected around WHS. He teaches in a way that every kid, including myself, has appreciated. Just to prove to you that he's not trying to get noticed and all the other s**t you just claimed, his father is David McCullough. If you don't know who that is, then Google him because I'm sure he is a bit more successful than you'd ever be.


Completely Irresponsible

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First, your comments are the dumbest thing I have ever heard someone say. Secondly, since you conjectured as to this teachers possibly being tenured as the reason he spoke so forthrightly, let me guess that you are probably a liberal/democrat/socialist/marxist. For you to think that he is out of bounds indicates that you are one of the useful idiots that the democrat/marxists use these days. Like the union thugs and useful idiots in Wisconsin. This speech is probably over your head. It is so sad that one has to comment on the 10th grade level, as evidenced by the reading level of our congress, to make people like you understand what is being said. You probably were the kind who cried when you didn't get a trophy after coming in last just because the winners did. You need to get your head out of your obama and smell the roses. On the other hand, if you think this article is bad, there is little hope for you. Just stay in your surreal world of socialism.

Wow. Really? You are of the

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Wow. Really? You are of the same group that think there should be no losers in Little League and that everyone should get an "A" so thier "feelings" are not hurt. Wake up! Our country is going down becaause of this PC B.S.

david mc cullough graduation speech

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Have you taught in a high school? I have for the past thirty years. My current students-many of them-could not hold a candle to the students whom I taught in the 1980's and 1990's. the majority of THOSE students wanted to learn, while some of my current students seem to want only to cash out. Actual knowledge and the effort required to gain it has become more and more maligned. That unfortunate attitude is a huge loss for our nation. Please do not insult Mr McCullough's professionalism. He has taught for more than a while, and more empty platitudes will not encourage change and growth. Our nation's parents need to hear this speech and need to stop doing their children's homework. So someone spoke up and told them one aspect of the truth...they will not be crushed. Not that they're necessarily resilient or hard-working, but they can certainly blame others until the cows come home.

You are so right ScootD.

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You are so right ScootD. This guy is a depressing joke whom undoubtedly grew up in a very unloving dysfunctional family. So sad that he was allowed to speak. Shame on him!

Not So Quick to judge

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This address for graduates may be unconventional, very out-of-the-ordinary box and overtly realistic - specially when you think of the occasion as graduation, but I agree that the truth explained early enough can be a young person's best friend when it makes one think deeper on what important adult decisions he/she has to make on the next level of his life pursuit. We will always have the affluence and comfort of home - in varying levels - and rightly so, but the individual makes the decisions over a long time of personal "trying on for size" the life choices and degrees of commitments and friends we choose to hang out with - factors that help us succeed when the moment of our opportunity comes and we need to be ready with more than our best foot forward. Graduations are mere beginnings of the next level of training, and words like not being all that special, after being sheltered from the real world for a few years, is little like Mom and Dad hesitating to give the Birds and Bees speech, after all kids in school have figured out what happens when one crosses the line and have unprotected sex - or sex that short circuits one's future...we as a society have so institutionalized all the fall backs, but there will be some who would resolve to be mature and be responsible to never have to need these, do the right thing and seek to contribute rather than cash in on these rehab mechanisms with its tendency to enslave rather than liberate in the long run. Being able to take it like it is - and celebrate with a realistic temperance and vision for the kind of future we want for America adds to our distinctive that's why I love the American spirit!


Who's the special snowflake now?

David McCullough wins the sub-genius award for this one.

A. You're not special. There are millions just like you.
B. Do whatever special thing your special heart wants.

The transition from the unconditional love of parents to the conditional appreciation of the wider world can be tough. Some advice about how best to meet those conditions might have been more helpful than 'you suck, but don't try to fix that.' McCullough just sounds like a grumpy old man unhappy with his role in life, but unable to do anything better, so he gratuitously dumps on kids.

Oh, wait, he's a high school teacher. Never mind.