Saturday, May 29, 2010

Climbing Life's Stairway

My students' last assignment of the year - finished just Wednesday - was to present a short motivational poem or speech to the class. I demonstrated the desired speaking skills by presenting Langston Hushes's "Mother to Son" followed by a related valedictory message stolen from my Brother's blog. The students made great choices for their presentations: During the last week of school we heard MLK's "I Have a Dream," "Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," Rudyard Kipling's "If," and Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." We heard Steve Jobs's graduation address to Stanford in 2004 - "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish" and Susan B. Anthony's "Woman's Right to the Suffrage."

We heard parts of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, Churchill's "Blood, Sweat, Toil and Tears" address, Douglas McArthur's Acceptance Speech for the Thayer Award at West Point - "Duty. Honor. Country," and Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture." We also heard more recent poetry and lesser-known speeches. One that I found particularly thought-provoking was a speech entitled "Life by Default; Life be Design?" by Usiere Uko. A few students wrote their own poetry and presented it - mostly on the topics of friendship and ecological responsibility.

I found it inspiring at the end of another school year, as we mark accomplishment and milestones in life, to hear some wisdom from the ages. I hope the students started their summer vacation period with something worthwhile to think about.

Other selections, you might like to find and read (or re-read):
"The Butterfly" by Nikos Kazantzakis
"Six Simple Strategies for Achieving Misery" by Sol Herzig
"I Wish You Enough" by Bob Parks
"Take Care of Your Friends" by Baxter Black, the Cowboy Poet

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Joan...Thank you for a most interesting post.