Sunday, August 08, 2010

Two valedictorians kneel before you, that's what I say now

Eric Falkenstein makes sense:
This [valedictorian] speaker, however, is wrestling with what should be the primary issue in every young person's life: what gives my life meaning? Victor Frankl's book Man's Search for Meaning is one of my favorites. It's a question that many never address directly but always wonder. I'm sure that whatever she does with her life, she'll be a mensch.

In contrast, the New York Times reports about a young man from a gifted school in NYC who lambasted the disparate impact in standardized tests (at Elena Kagan's alma mater, no less). His valedictory speech got a standing ovation from the school's faculty, which should be no surprise because seniors submit graduation speeches and a faculty committee selects one to be read. The faculty was congratulating itself on the bold idea that that geometry and antonym tests are biased (but not against Asians for some reason). The speech is filled with bromides and sanctimony ("We are playing God, and we are losing", "I apologize if this is not the speech you wanted to hear"). The kid is a tool for academic establishment cliches, and unfortunately, is being told that he's precociously authentic and wise. The line, "this is not the speech you wanted to hear" was chosen among many as the speech they wanted to hear, and no one seems to have noticed.

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