This weekend will involve shopping for my wife's birthday present. She turns the big 5-0 on Thursday (not really 50. I just put that in case she's reading this at some point. She'll be 40ish). We are heading to the mountain for the weekend so that will be awesome. Nature is the best.
George Saunders's Advice to Graduates
I started teaching an AP Language class this year where we deal with rhetoric on a daily basis so I've been drawn to speeches lately and this has become one of my favorites. George Saunders and his collection of stories, The Tenth of December, have become a media darling this year, being named to pretty much every Top Ten list of books for 2013. This speech cements that for me. It's brief, eleven minutes, and stays away from most of the usual platitudes that speakers give when speaking to graduates. It's also available on video here. The focus of Saunders's speech is summed in one line, "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness."
Speech: 10 of 10
As mentioned, the theme deals with kindness and that eventually people become nicer so why not start now? Saunders starts with an anecdote about a girl he attended school with in seventh grade who was picked on and although he didn't add to the bullying, he wasn't ever kind to the girl either and eventually she was gone from school. He says that he has regretted not being kind to her for 42 years and it is his biggest regret.
Saunders talks about why people aren't kind to each other and then goes into ways that people can become nicer.
Teachability: 10 of 10
Here I go with my easy grading again but this one is awesome. From a rhetorical standpoint, I love this essay. It is fantastic in that it has lots of strategies to analyze. From a human standpoint, I want my students to read something that tells them to be kinder. Duh. This is a no-brainer.