Best. Graduates. Ever!
Students, faculty, family members and friends, it is my great honor to deliver your commencement speech today.
It is my opinion that our society must take every opportunity to praise our young people for their hard work and accomplishment, and that is why ceremonies such as this are so important to our country's future.
It was not so long ago, after all, that a more conservative America saw things differently. What a harsh place America once was — particularly for our young students.
So primitive were educational practices when I was young that our gym teachers forced us to play dodgeball and other competitive games. Can you imagine how humiliating it was to have children whipping big rubber balls at your torso, and if you got hit and failed to catch the ball, you “lost”?
Our teachers enjoyed pitting us against each other inside the classroom, too, with competitive quizzes and spelling bees. They kept score, too, which humiliated the losers and greatly damaged their self-esteem.
Hard as it is to fathom, my generation played keep-away during recess. One kid carried the ball and everybody else tried to rip it away from him. It was a game about individualism; there was no teamwork, and there were no rules or adults to intervene. It was you against everybody else — and it was most unpleasant.
Well, dodgeball, scorekeeping and keep-away are relics of the past. Fortunately, enlightened adults are much more involved with children now, and we are able to spare children the harm their self-esteem would suffer from games and competitions.
Thankfully, many enlightened adults are the parents who have contributed greatly to the accomplishments of today's graduates.
It was you who stood by, protecting your sons and daughters from every one of life's ills and heartaches. It was you who praised them for every little effort and sought to pump them up with their own self-importance and self-worth.
It was not so long ago that parents were not so enlightened. Some parents once believed their children needed to figure out some things out on their own. They actually wanted their children to spend time with friends without adult supervision, so they could learn to socialize on their own.
They actually wanted their children to go sled-riding without adults keeping them safe, so they could learn to play and to engage with nature on their own. Thank goodness those days are gone!
There are some who criticize the way many parents and adults coddle today's children. They criticize “helicopter parents” who constantly hover over their children and come flying in the moment their child meets with any challenge or adversity.
There are some who argue that our coddling is not doing our children any favors — that our constant intervention in our children's lives is inhibiting their ability to learn how to invent, discover and grow on their own, and how to make decisions and adjustments on their own.
They say our efforts to bolster self-esteem, by prohibiting competition and by continually giving our children praise, ceremonies, awards and commendations for every silly thing, are setting them up for failure as adults — that survival in adulthood will require real performance and results.
They say that too many awards and ceremonies dilute the meaning of real accomplishment and achievement — that events like the one we celebrate today are really designed for the enjoyment of the adults, who feel the need to live vicariously through even the most minor accomplishments of their children.
To them, I say: Hogwash!
And congratulations to the kindergarten Class of 2013!
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers add cornerback, cut roster to 53
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- State lawmaker proposes increasing cost of fishing licenses
- Pirates reliever Liz new, improved
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Dozens of cats rescued from trash-filled home in Arnold
- Marine from Mt. Oliver honored for fire rescue
- Connellsville Area School District to honor Hall of Fame inductees