Sunday, July 15, 2012

How To Go To University and End Up Dumber Than When You Started

As promised, I have wrestled Gil's speech from his hands so that I could post it here.  :-)

My husband is a truly gifted teacher.  And his students love him, which is probably why he was chosen (by them) for the second year in a row to be the graduation speaker.  He usually doesn't write out what he teaches more than just outlines, so when I found out that he had written out this speech, I had to post it.  It's pretty awesome, and it comes from 12 years of working with high school and college students. 

I have titled today’s commencement speech: How To Go To University and End Up Dumber Than When You Started.
Now let’s be honest for a second here. What is all the celebration really about?

If teenagers are known for anything, they are known for calling things the way they are. If something is boring, they will let you know. If you dress funny, they will let you know.  I can appreciate this blunt honesty, even if it hurts the ego a little. So let’s be honest. This graduation is more than just having accomplished 13 years of work and even more than passing your exams. It’s about never having to put on the HOPAC shirt again. Never having to sit in homeroom again. Ride the school bus, or take another memory verse test. If we are honest it is about freedom and fun. It’s about getting out of the house and living life for yourself.  It’s about not having someone there to tell you when to go to bed, to do your homework, not to stay out late, to study for exams. No teachers hounding you for missed assignments or being out of dress code.  It’s the Promised Land. The land of freedom. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  It’s not because you don’t love and appreciate your parents. You just want to go out on your own. You want to live life your way now.  You have spent the last 18 years living by their rules and now you want to do it your way. Now I loved my family, but I can remember sitting in my cap and gown about to graduate, counting the minutes till freedom. I chose my university based on which one was furthest away from home.  I vividly remember getting in my car packed with my stuff, blasting the music with the windows down and on the road to freedom.   For some it’s felt like being baby-sat far too long, for others a gradual development towards this final stage of release, and if we are honest for others, more like a prison sentence.  And now it’s here. Freedom awaits you as you step off this stage with your diploma in hand.  A certificate of independence.  An adult ready to make your own decisions.  Freedom.

The question is: Freedom to go where? Freedom to do what?  Where will you be in 4 years? What will you have accomplished? What will be next? If you are anything like the majority of college graduates, I can tell you exactly where you will be. The place you would least expect to find yourself in 4 years. You will end up right back here! Not here as in HOPAC… but here as in back at home with your parents. The most recent college survey found that last year four out of five graduates moved back in with Mom and Dad. Seven in ten did not have a job lined up when they graduated university, having just spent $100,000 and 20 percent of their lives. So parents, don’t pack up your child’s room quite yet…they are likely to be back.

Shocking, right? How is that possible? How is it that 4 years at some of the best universities will land students back right where they started? There is a dangerous trend in western culture today where we promote the idea of prolonged adolescence. Sure you want to get a car, move away from home, and not have people checking up on you… but many of you don’t want the responsibility that comes along with it. University used to be a place where people went to discover their careers, the passion, and calling in life. Now for most collegiates, it is one big party. It’s a fantasy land of grown up children who love the freedom but skirt the responsibility. The majority of college students will pick up few hundred thousand dollars in debt, a few of STD’s (and noy that’s not a synonym for a PhD.), a little more educated but a lot more stupid. 42 percent of the 2006 graduates surveyed said they’re still living at home.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Hey, isn’t this guy supposed to say few nice things about us; congratulate us on our accomplishment?  It seems most commencement speeches come at this all wrong. They are supposed to challenge you and tell you how to make the most of your future. Well, if there is anything I’ve learned about high school students, it’s that they are more likely to do the opposite of whatever you recommend. You tell them to do something and now they want to do anything but that. You tell them not to do something then they want to do that even more.  So instead, let me just tell you what you really want to hear: How to have the most fun in University and how you can educate yourself to be stupid.

Here are 4 simple ways to go to university and end up dumber than when you started:

1.     Major on the minors. In other words, let the smaller insignificant things in life become the most important.  Put God and your faith in the back until it slowly fades away. 70%  of college age people walk away from their faith. A conscious decision convinced by empirical evidence and logic? Or more likely distracted by the simple pleasures in life to remember God? Hanging out with friends, staying up late, going to parties, watching movies, Facebook. Many college guys spend more time on video games then they do in class. Most college girls spend more time getting ready in the morning than they do on homework. So the easiest ways to fail your classes, lose your faith, abandon your principles is to get caught up with the minor things in life and allow them to squeeze out the major things. If you want to want ensure failure, learn to succeed in the things that don’t matter. Best FIFA player, having the hottest boyfriends, skipping the most classes and still managing to pass (most of the time). You see 30 percent of university students drop out after their first year, and half never graduate.

2.     Answer the wrong questions the right way.  I’ve known too many students who had did an outstanding assignment but for the wrong thing, and there is nothing worse than wasting precious minutes on quiz question you don’t have to answer. Same principle applies to life. If you want guarantee failure, then learn to answer correctly the wrong questions. You have heard your whole life that there is no such thing a dumb question. How do we know the person who said that wasn’t dumb? In fact, if I was dumb, that would be the perfect thing to say to help cover up my lame questions. Now it’s true teachers say that to students to encourage them to ask questions but we all know there are such things as dumb questions. We get them all the time. It just warms our hearts to see students raise their hands in eager anticipation. I love that moment in teaching when you’re in the zone. You’re passionately explaining an important concept. Students are engaged, soaking it up, on the edge or their seats. A hand shoots up waving around confirming to you that students are desperate to understand what you are explaining. So eager with anticipation and a smug look you call on the student. The question: Is this going to be on the test?  (translation- do I need to pay attention or can I keep tuning you out), or the classic, Can I go to the bathroom?  And my all time favorite: When someone asks the exact same question someone just asked. Talk about stealing the moment. Close your books, might as well call class over.

Well if you want to end up dumb in university, then learn to ask the right questions to the wrong subject. There is more to life than grades, papers, diplomas, and PHDs. More to life than money, fame, and success. If you want to be dumber when you leave school than when you entered, never learn which questions are the most important ones to answer.  Meaning of Life? God? Calling? Values? Beliefs? Miss the opportunity to engage and discover wisdom by settling for just knowledge. Rather than discovering who you are, and what you are meant to do, settle for asking where the best pizza place is, where to find the cutest girls, and which teachers give the least amount of homework.  Go for fun and hope for a diploma, and tell mom and dad to get your room ready. You just spend the last few years learning to be dumb.

3.     Step 3:   Let your friends choose you, and then choose for you. Proverbs is quite clear how bad company corrupts good character. So if you want to make college easy and fun, then follow the crowds and let your closest friends choose you. Blend right in. Forget who you are, what you believe, be tolerant of everyone and everything until nothing is right and nothing is wrong. Lose your identity and let people tell you how you have to live and how to be accepted.  Don’t stand up for what you believe and don’t find people who share the same values and beliefs. Learn that image is everything. Believe everything you see and hear. Don’t test it. Follow the rat race. Buy the right shoes, get the right phone, act the right way. Doesn’t matter what’s inside, focus on the outside. Grades. Friends, money, spend more time looking good than being good. Don’t focus on true relationships; go for the quick and easy. Find friends who are more than happy to get drunk with you but not around when you really need help. Surround yourself with people who will use you and pretend to like you but never really know you. Don’t be picky about who you spend time with because we all know the most important thing in life is to have the most friends possible on Facebook. Then you will have succeeded in university but failed in life.

4.     Last but not least on your path of educating yourself to be dumb: Learn to waste the opportunity and gifts that have been given to you. Believe that you have made it to this point all on your own. You did it all. Neglect the fact that God created and gifted you with your abilities and opportunities. Forget the years of sacrifice your parents and family have invested in you to get you to this point. Mock the opportunity given to you that so many millions in the world would die for. Take all that potential and waste it all. Waste your body through any number of eating disorders. From anorexia to the Freshman 15. Kill your brain cells with drunkenness and drugs. You don’t need them for the class you’re ditching anyway. Why go to class if the teacher doesn’t take attendance? Something to think about next time you consider sleeping through a class: If a semester of college costs $12,500 (not counting room and board), and you take five classes, that’s $2,500 a class. If the class meets three times a week for fourteen weeks, that’s about $60 a class period. Each minute has a value of $1. By all means, throw the money away.  Learn to sacrifice your heart by engaging in the hook up culture that 80% of college students have adapted as their life style. Try to fill the emptiness with immediate gratification that will leave you empty and hopeless. Finally, abandon your beliefs and values that your family and HOPAC have tried to instill in you. Take all those gifts and blessings and waste them on 4 years of fun. Then you will be like the majority of college graduates who end up educated to be dumb.

Proverbs 14:12  There is way that seems right to man and in the end it leads to destruction.

We have all heard the saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Well, welcome to this generation of overgrown children. Ready for freedom but not ready for responsibility.

If you want to go down that path, the choice is yours. It’s easy. As Proverbs says, it should be more about finding wisdom than educating yourself to be dumb. Choose right now what path you will take. Those that don’t choose will have it chosen for them. There are two types of people. Those that understand that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the fools who despise wisdom and instruction. Those fools major on the minors, answer the wrong questions the right way, Let their friends choose them, and waste the amazing opportunity given to them. The majority of your college classmates will follow that path. If you don’t, if you want something more, then make the most of these next few years. Get the right answers to the right questions. Discover truth. Find purpose and meaning. Today is more than just finishing high school. It’s about starting the next phase of your life. As your family, friends, and teachers are gathered here, we will be hoping and praying the best for you in this adventure. We wish you all the best, Haven of Peace Academy Class of 2012.

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