One of my favorite classroom traditions is showing commencement addresses to seniors the last two weeks of school. I’m not sure how or why I started doing this, but the viewing of these speeches are part of my classroom experience. I know that hearing these speeches at 18 is not the same as hearing them at 50 (hypothetically), but I continue to show them year after year hoping to impart some final bits of wisdom to my babies who are leaving the comforts of Room 128.
Below are some commencement speeches that I show year after year which may be more beneficial for adults settled into a routine life than for those venturing into the world. Interestingly, my students’ favorite address is given by an admiral in the Navy on lessons he learned in SEAL training; he speaks TRUTH! I especially love the first three and encourage you to watch them over the next few days then take time to give some of your wisdom to the graduates you know.
McRaven at University of Texas – Make Your Bed
David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College – This is Water
David McCullough, Jr. at Wellesley HIgh School – You Are Not Special
Ellen DeGeneres at Tulane – Addressing the Katrina Class
Anthony Corvino at Binghamton University – Average is the New Exceptional
Stephen Colbert at Northwestern – Life is an Improvisation
Steve Jobs at Stanford – How to Live Before You Die
What advice would you give an upcoming graduate?