High School Valedictorian Rips Entire Educational System In Her Graduation Speech

August 6, 2010 · 1 comment

Erica Goldson might be my new hero. When she was named Valedictorian of Coxsackie-Athens High School last month, she decided that her graduation speech would have an interesting take: she took the opportunity to criticize the very concept of a valedictorian and to tear apart our entire educational system as a whole. I couldn’t agree more with her thoughts which can be seen in the video above or read in full here.

The whole speech is great, but here’s a particularly strong excerpt:

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination.

I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave.

I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it?

When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

Preach on, sister, preach on.

{ 1 comment }

Meredith August 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

I was thrilled to hear this speech and these words. If two people hear this who have anything to do with education and can make one single change, there may be hope for all of our students. Educators and the system that supports them are the white elephants in our society. The so-called gifted programs are a joke. There should be room for all children in all schools and there should be the intelligence to meet them where they are and to take them somewhere else of value. God forbid one ever looks to the child for that direction. I have found that 99% of all the teachers I know are not even able to listen…to anyone!!!!! They are so used to the sound of their own voices repeating ad nauseum the words which even bore them, they are now unable to hear even their own voices. This young woman is who needs to be in charge of teaching EVERYONE. I hope the bureaucrats sitting behind her were even able to understand what she was saying.

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