From The Teacher's Desk

Leonard
Leonard Quilty
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Graduates should strive to be ‘difference makers’

In another week or so, as I write this, our oldest daughter will be joining the rest of her Grade 12 class as they celebrate their senior high prom. It is, of course, a special time in their lives.

On the evening of May 28, the graduates will be clad in their finest attire. Alongside the clicking of cameras and the whirring of video recorders, the 2011 graduating class will receive well wishes from all those in attendance.

Nestled in among tears of joy will be the graduates’ expressions of gratitude to their parents and teachers.

As is customary on these momentous occasions, a guest speaker will be called upon to bring some words of wisdom to the graduates. He or she will no doubt extol the value of using their Grade 12 diploma as a springboard to higher academic achievement in a chosen post-secondary institution.

Maybe equally as predictable, the guest speaker will speak to the power of having a dream, and pursuing that dream with a passion-driven plan.

Recently, I was reading another teacher’s comments (on her blog – ‘The Dream Teacher’) about graduation time. Apparently, she had given a speech at her nephew’s graduation in the U.S. encouraging the students to follow the advice of recording artists Tim McGraw – ‘live like you’re dying’, and Leann Womack – ‘I hope you dance’.

However, the gist of her talk centered on three words: “Don’t get comfortable.”

She qualified that statement by telling the class to be risk-takers in an innovative and creative way, and to not let complacency rule their life.

I’m sure we could all agree with this blogger’s uplifting remarks. But, with all due respect, I would like to offer a different perspective on her terminology – don’t get comfortable.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment." – Henry David Thoreau

While I agree with the supporting statements she made about those three words, I would like to suggest a different (but complementary I would think) approach.

I believe this year’s graduates should ‘get comfortable’. By that I mean, get comfortable with:

 - Having a spiritual focus at the core of their being.

 - Harboring a deep respect for the wisdom of their elders.

 - Continuing the quest for self-awareness through a regular practice of reading great literature.

Living the tenets of the four agreements of author Don Miguel Ruiz: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

As they embark on the next leg of their life’s journey, this year’s graduates will find themselves in a world filled with incredible opportunities. But, couched in those opportunities, there lies an abiding need.

The world of today yearns for men and women who will use their skills to be ‘difference makers’ – to find peaceful solutions for resolving global inequities.

I believe those solutions can be found if today’s youth strive toward the challenge put forth by Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a person of success, but try to become a person of value.”

Geographic location: U.S.

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