Young women and men of the class of 2014...
Where did we go wrong?
No, really. Where did we drop the ball?
For years — especially the last four — you have been prodded, observed, assessed and tested to determine if you were fit to move on to the next stage of your life. Your graduation from high school implies an acceptance into adulthood. Some call it the school of life, others refer to it as the school of hard knocks. However you refer to it, the moment you accept that diploma (or turn 18 years old) you’re in.
So, how did we — the adults who were in charge of not only teaching you but of setting examples and creating a better tomorrow for you — do?
It’s your turn to grade us.
Put aside momentarily your excitement and the giddines that accompanies your emancipation from rigourously enforced schooling and tell us how we did.
Did we do a good job of preparing you? Not for test taking and book learning, but for everything else?
In this age of selfies and iPhones and social networking, did we teach you to look inward and examine who you are now? And who you want to become? Did we give you the tools to reflect on the questions that will begin to chase you as you emerge from your 20s a decade from now?
To thine ownself be true. Does that mean anything to you? Do you want it to?
Are you prepared to swallow failure? Did our efforts to bolster your self esteem ignore equal measures of assuring you that you will not always succeed? Did we give you the ability to suffer an embarassing defeat and try again only to fail once more?
Have we taught you through our own failures and mistakes? Have we owned up to them and set an example for you to learn from? Or did we teach you to iginre them and blame someone else?
Did we teach you that we don’t have all the answers? No one does. But that’s OK because it’s in searching for them that we learn a little about ourselves and the people around us.
Did we give you an opportunity to learn what has real value? Not just for you but the people — the community — around you? Do you know what matters and did you learn that from us?
You are wonderfully young. You will undoubtedly learn lessons in the days you treasure, rue and squander. Like us — the people who are older and should know better — you will have opportunities to teach those who follow. They may be siblings or friends, roommates, coworkers or strangers, and they might learn something from you. What will you teach them?
Did we prepare you for that important and life changing role?
How did we do?