Revision I got with help from someone.
Graduation Speech Revision 1
Good evening Ms Magee, (other dignitaries), parents, friends, and fellow classmates.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak to you. My name is Jonathan Abboud. I'm grateful to have served as the Student Union president this year. This fall, I will be attending the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Four years and seven days ago many of my fellow classmates and I were graduating from eighth grade two miles down the street. We looked forward to high school as the next best experience in our lives. Although I haven't been a part of this community for as long as some here, I'll try to share with you some of my own thoughts and some of our common concerns.
Most, if not all of us, wondered at various times during these past four years: "what's the point of high school" or "why do I need to know this," when being taught concepts and lessons that seemed unneeded to us at the moment. There is an answer to both of these questions; simply put, education is the cure for ignorance. More to the point, there are three parts to the education you receive in high school, in college, or in life. I will explain more about that later.
One of my favorite quotes is by Robert A. Heinlein, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
We shouldn't sit idle, learning nothing at all, learning mostly empty information, or learning only about a subject or two that interests us. The latter is what many perceive the point of college to be, which is false. A citizenry who limits itself to a narrow field of information better prepare for a grim world.
We don't want a world where people will learn only about the arts or sciences; yet remain ignorant of economics, simply because it doesn't appeal to them. Such people will fall victim to believing irrational ideas presented by those wanting to take advantage of their ignorance.
We don't want a world filled with people who won't concern themselves with anything outside of personal interests. Because then they can become the ignorant electorate with the power to change their country with their votes, while possibly not choosing anything that will result in meaningful change, or worse, will result in further decline or greater problems.
We don't want a world that nobody wants to live in because it is no longer safe nor free. A citizenry that enriches itself with a varied education is invulnerable to tyranny.
However, academic education is only a fraction of a person's total education. Life after academia gives people experience in situations no school can ever teach. Oscar Wilde said "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."
What we may learn in a government or political science class cannot compare to the experience of working with a local, state, or national official – either as an office employee or campaign worker.
Any cultural studies class will not enlighten us the way visiting and living in the studied foreign location will.
Learning accounting methods will not give you the "kitchen table economics" knowledge that a single parent learns while trying to balance the family's budget. (Which, by the way, a single parent should not have to do on a mediocre wage and inadequate child support.)
Our formal education lasts for about 17 years, our informal one lasts the rest of our lives. While we must embrace a formal education, we must not underestimate what we can learn while living our lives. We should embrace new experiences that will further our outlook on life. Our unique experiences are the lessons we will pass on to the next generation, not the lessons learned in the classroom. Many people, in the pursuit of more and more academic education have to pay the opportunity cost of sacrificing some years of rich life experiences. Those who can experience the two, come out the best.
Now, receiving both kinds of education is critical, but how do we do it? What do we need? We need the ability to know how to learn. That's it, the holy grail of existence. It's not enough to take great notes and ace a test. It's not enough to successfully overcome a hardship in life. One must be able to take the information, comprehend what happened, analyze its meaning, and synthesize to give it meaning. If we are not able to learn, we can never progress as individuals. You cannot find a book anywhere on our planet which will teach you how to learn. The process of learning to effectively learn is completely derived from receiving an education. That is the point of school. That is the point of a difficult and boring math class. A harmless method to gain the ability to learn. What a novel process. It's like building muscle; at first you have very little, but as you break it down by lifting weights (the equivalent to taking in new material), it will recover better than before. Someone who can effectively learn, from anywhere or anything, is the model citizen. They may make mistakes, they may lose from time to time, but they will never fail in life.
Those of you going off to college don't groan about the required general education courses. The education you receive, in a wide range of topics, will help you more than any piece of paper with words "Bachelor of Arts."
With your degree, hopefully you feel a civic duty to impart your knowledge on others and actively organize for a better World. Even those of you not attending college and for those finished with college, education is now unlimited and almost free, and you also have a whole life full of experience. President Obama said in his commencement address to the University of Michigan "We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
I challenge everyone here today, parents, teachers, and students. Go out into the world, use what you know, acquire more knowledge, and make something happen. Anybody who does nothing to alleviate their situation has no right to complain to about it. Drop your idleness and over consumption of useless information, you know gossip about celebrities and the like. Fight for something you believe in. Become like President Obama says the change you seek.
Thank you everyone for coming, showing your support these last 18 years, and for just being there for us.
A special thank you to my family, my closest friends who are here today and the ones who couldn't be, to my teachers over the years, and to everyone I've learned a nugget of information from. I promise that I will not disappoint you.