By: Charles Wheelan
Published: The Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2012; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304811304577366332400453796.html
Level of Difficulty: *
BEFORE YOU READ
Discuss what kind of advice you think a commencement speaker should offer.
1. What was ironic about the writer’s first job on graduating? Use your own words
2. What, according to the writer, is the most important mistake made in commencement speeches?
3. Your time in fraternity basements and clubs was well spent because …………………………..Be very specific.
4. What does "them” refer to in the phrase “Be prepared to work through them” in paragraph three?
5. What, exactly, is the writer advising graduates to do in paragraph four?
a. To serve society to the best of their abilities
b. To be wary of overstepping certain boundaries
c. To be regular players in the modern world of capitalism
6. What are the writer’s views concerning married women and work? Why? You will need to tweak the text.
7. The writer ends paragraph six with the following sentences: “Bob Smith died yesterday at the age of 74. He finished life in 186th place”. What fact is the writer criticizing in these sentences? Be careful!
8. Why did Theodore Roosevelt’s mother probably want him to be a doctor or a lawyer?
9. In paragraph nine, what exactly is the writer advising you to do? Use your own words.
10. According to the writer, there is a negative correlation between …………………………….and………………………………………………………..(you will need to tweak the text)
Write a paragraph expressing your opinions on what you have just read.
TEN THINGS YOUR COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER WON’T TELL YOU KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES
This simple yet enjoyable little text allowed me to introduce some of our classic tricks in the questions. Look out for questions 1, 7 and 9; these will encourage students to think, and prepare them for the multiple choice questions you get on tests. There are a few vocabulary items you will have to explain but this is class work so where is the harm in that? All and all, should be challenging yet fun.
1. Possible answer: He was writing speeches for 22 year olds but he was only 23 at the time.
2. They are over-optimistic.
3. One of the most important causal factors associated with happiness and well-being is your meaningful connections with other human beings.
4. Periods of grinding self doubt and failure.
6. He is for it. You will be better off in life if you have a second economic oar in the water.
7. The fact that life is becoming ridiculously structured and competitive.
8. Because there is a natural instinct to protect our children from risk and discomfort.
9. Possible answer: To balance various aspects of your life.
10. Thinking about being great; becoming great.