The Madeleine Brand Show for June 12, 2012

Teacher tells high school graduates, 'You are not special'

Joe Biden Delivers High School Commencement Address At Marlins Park

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the commencement ceremony for Cypress Bay High School graduates at Marlins Park on June 4, 2012 in Miami, Florida.

Before they pack up their bags, say goodbye to their parents and head to college, students must first sit through their high school commencement. For the most part, graduation is celebration and praise, encomiums to high achievement and advice on how to make the most of the best years of your life.

But earlier this month, during the ceremony for the Wellesley High School class of 2012, graduates heard some jarring words from a commencement speaker:

"You are not special."

High school teacher David McCullough Jr., son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, did not take the usual approach towards a commencement speech.

"You've been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes. Capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you."

McCullough drove home to graduates that uniqueness is hard to find on a planet of 6.8 billion. His speech quickly went viral and has been racking up hits on YouTube ever since.


Lisa Belkin, Huffington Post's Senior Columnist on Life, Work and Family.

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