For years we have become bothered, even irritated, when someone in authority, especially in academia, would tell students how special and bright they were. Nonsense! An argument could be made that a certain student is special, or two, but an entire graduating class? Come on, talk sense. But an argument could be made that everyone could be special in their own way if they applied themselves. Special, special, special!
Finally, there was someone who had the courage to be honest with students in a high school graduating class. He told the students, “You’re not special.” The speaker was David McCullough, Jr., a veteran of 20 years of teaching. His talk generated an explosion of publicity. He wrote in Newsweek magazine that his talk was taken out of context and what he really meant, and what he said, was that any of the graduates would be special if they made something out of their lives. The feedback to him was mainly positive.
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