Saturday, May 13, 2017

Wisdom From Babes


At the end of the school year, our seniors write and present a Last Lecture speech. It came about after I found a small heartfelt book written by Professor Randy Pausch, who after he was afflicted with cancer, gave a last lecture at Carnegie Mellon.

This is our fifth year of all seniors presenting a last lecture in their classrooms. From the classroom presentations, ten finalists are chosen to present their speeches at the end of year, Last Lecture essay contest. Students don't know who will be chosen--it's a television game show kind of atmosphere--the  New Price is Right kind of feeling--students' names are called, and they run to the pulpit to dole out wisdom to underclassmen.

The fifth year effect of seniors' reflections and wisdom has been cumulative. There is an unprecedented level of excitement, engagement; alchemy is brewing. Many seniors have written double digit drafts. The wisdom in their words has been impressive, heartfelt, even overwhelming.

As I listened, I scribbled down notes from their insights. So impressed by some of the aphorisms, I would approach a student and ask if the thought was original, "Yes, I came up with that," or "It took me an hour to craft that one line."

After one poignant, resounding essay, I was so impressed, I jumped up like a preacher filled with fire and brimstone calls to repentance, to tell the class how much I had learned from them and how I longed to learn more.

How I wish I could share all of the essays. Here are a few snippets from our seventeen and eighteen year-olds' wisdom-filled essays :

"Even though the truth hurts, I don’t have to let the truth hurt me."

"Weakness is like a thought, no one else can tell you what it is, no one can see it."

"Perfection is procrastination in disguise."

"Greatness is the ability to overcome the normality of not trying."

"Your world is only as cold as you make it. I nearly froze myself to death; all those (negative) things I thought about my peers, was me."

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