Saturday, May 22, 2010

Guest Column

Today Ricky is speaking at a luncheon which honors our high school seniors who are completing the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. The school district started the program eight years ago. It is rigorous and intense. It follow a world-wide curriculum. Our high school has been very successful in implementing the program - a rare accomplishment for a public high school with more than 50% economically disadvantaged students.

Ricky is a favorite teacher, and for the sixth year in a row, has been requested by the students to give the faculty speech. Each year he has worked to tailor his remarks to that particular group. I am his sounding board and have often made minor suggestions.

This year I wouldn't change a word, and I am excerpting a portion of his speech that I find particularly relevant. While his speech today is to an audience of eighteen year olds, their families and their teachers, it's applicable for all of us. Just substitute that dream or challenge you have for the term "IB." When we are willing to work hard and embrace the world, the rewards are great.

Here goes.....

".......look at this crowd! What a success story this has become!

I remember a book from a few years ago called 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.' Like most things, I remember it as a recent book, but it's now in its 15th edition. Time flies! The author's premise was that some of the key things you need to carry you through life are among the most basic things you learn in kindergarten. Things like "Play fair.' 'Don't hit people.' 'Take a nap every day.' (Don't I wish!)

I'm going to make a slight change in the author's premise. You see, one of the first things you learn in IB is that if you change one or two words it's not plagiarism. So here' my version, soon to be a best-selling book: 'All I Really Need to Know I Learned in IB.'

First, 'When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.' You could not have done this alone. I don't mean without the teachers and the administrators, even though we know how indispensable we are. I mean without your friends in the program and without your families. You've spent vast amounts of time together, learned together, laughed together, encouraged each other, teased each other, supported each other, loved each other and, at times, hated each other. Just like a family. Remember that. You'll keep some of these friendships and you'll make many new friendships throughout life, and the basic idea will always be the same - you are much better together than alone. Stay connected with each other and make lots of new connections. Value and treasure your family that got you to this time and place.

Second, 'it's a mistake to believe everything you think.' WOW! ToK (Theory of Knowledge) on a Saturday. It's true, though. We have tried to teach you more than facts and figures. IB is so much more than rote memorization. How many times have we told you that we want you to learn to think? ToK is all about questioning how you know what you know. In my class, especially during test review, I've stressed that how you think is more important than what you know. It really is.

My Economics classes have heard this many times this year, but these are in many ways unique and difficult times. Politics, culture, economics - there are troubling signs and events everywhere, and we are facing some difficult issues. In my class I have repeatedly said that many of our old theories and ideas don't seem to be working or don't seem to apply any more, and that one of the challenges we are leaving your generation is the problem of cleaning up the messes we have made. The only way you can do that is by thinking in new ways, questioning the old theories, analyzing data, and evaluating options. We were not just teaching you how to take a test or get into college - we were teaching you how to think and to lead. Our hope is that you have been prepared to go out into your chosen fields and your communities prepared to be leaders and prepared to think of new solutions.

As a third kindergarten point, 'you can get used to anything.' Late nights. Long reading assignments. Economic gibberish and graphs. Biology facts. Math formulas. Sleep deprivation. There were times you were overwhelmed. There were times you were depressed. There were times you were so sick and tired of IB that you literally became sick. But look around you - here you are, really no worse for the wear. You did it. We applaud you and we admire you. and deep down, you know in you heart that you can do anything, because you've done IB............"


Jennifer said...

Love it!!!

Sherry said...

Rick and you together could write best-selling books. I'm proud of him. Tell him that another book by Fulghum fits with what you've been saying in other entries (like the last one :). The book is Maybe, Maybe Not. He says "maybe" is the most important word, that folks should REALLY think about the possibilities they have--but then stop saying "what if" and act.