David mccullough, Jr.'s now iconic high school commencement address was a tonic for children, parents, and educators alike. With wit and a perspective earned from raising four children and teaching high school students for nearly thirty years, McCullough expands on his speech, shares his insights into the lives of today's children, and advocates for a life of passionate engagement.
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About the Author
David McCullough, Jr. taught for sixteen years at Punahou School in Honolulu and has been teaching at Wellesley High School near Boston since 2002. He lives with his wife and four children in Sudbury, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
1 Mums and Dads 1
2 Know Thyself 37
3 The Theory and Practice of School 69
4 Look at Your Fish 109
5 The Old College Try 141
6 Rah, Rah 175
7 Do We Not Bleed? 209
8 Getting and Spending 231
9 The Same Boat 251
10 So Live 283
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Having spent over fifty years in public education this book should be read by every student and parent and most pf all by POLITICIANS who set the regulations for public education knowing little and understanding less about what they preach. If the Feds and State would get out of education and leave it to educators our public schools would be much more respected. This was an excellent book written by a man who spoke the truth and wasn't concerned with political correctness. Unless one has been in the classroom and experienced what teaching is al about it its impossible to understand the child. Unfortunately the only time any politician has been in a public school classroom is for a photo shoot. Does this book apply to all students and parents? No, but far to many. We all feel we are the exception to the rule whether it be smoking, drugs etc. but the best thing a student or parent could do after readng this book is look in a mirror to see if it pertains to you and face reality.
I grew up in the world of privilege Mr. McCullough describes, but only because my childhood home was located inside an upper middle class school district. I was also a victim of some pretty horrific abuse as a child, the details of which can and should remain private. With a mutilated body and soul, I was reduced to being terrified as graduation approached, terrified of going out into the world to make my own way, because I'd been dehumanized to a point where I did not believe there was any chance I could survive on my own. At the commencement, we received an address similar to Mr. McCullough's. Although I was sitting amongst the pampered and the privileged, it was the exact opposite of what I personally needed to hear. So I stayed at home in the literally horrific conditions I'd grown up in, and failed to launch into life. Several years later, my paternal grandmother asked to speak to me. Having some inkling of the environment I'd grown up in, she held my face in her hands and told me I was indeed special, created in God's image, and the owner of a unlimited potential that I needed to share with the rest of the world. Of course it was baloney, but it was what I needed to hear. I launched, and have done just fine. Amazing what impact a few minutes can have on a person's life. For the sake of those like me, please let commencement addresses be a sacred cow; let it be the one event where we don't practice tough love and pragmatism. Let it be the event where dreams remain safe, encouraged and praised and promoted. This is a powerful and wise and incisive book, and it raises many important issues, but I listened to an audio tape of portions of Mr. McCullough's commencement speech, and while I heard laughter on occasion from the audience, it was joyless, nervous laughter. We need to let graduation ceremonies remain occasions of joy. The difficulties and hardships of life present themselves soon enough, and without fail. We discover soon enough that most of us are just faces in the crowd. We should still be launched on our journey with words of praise and encouragement..
A brilliant, insightful and articulate author, with a premise I don't like as regards this book. Millions of American children get little or no validation or encouragement from the parents and teachers who are supposed to provide it to them. And the problem is that there is too much indulging and "helicoptering" for American children? Perhaps for some. For many others, parents and teachers have failed to be nurturing. If you cannot on some occasion look into your child's face -- or student's face -- and say, "You are special, magnificent, wonderful, and all the world awaits you," then you should have remained single or found another calling. Because that is precisely what many of our children need to hear. For many, the encouragement and hope they derive from a parent or teacher is what they will survive on for the rest of their lifetime. And it comes across as passive aggressive behavior to toss at them: "You are NOT special." Yes, David, you are a writer amongst writers. And a man among men. And an intellectual head and shoulders above most intellectuals. But it also would appear you needed affirmation from your own parents that you did not receive. You obviously turned out just fine. The same isn't always going to be true for others.
An interesting and engrossing look at the world we privileged raise our kids in and the pressures us and they face to be "the best". For me, it has been life changing. Highly, highly recommended. If you have a teen in your life, get them this book. My guess is, it may be a life changing book for them also!