Why I Told Those Grads They're Not Special

David McCullough Jr. reflects on commencement speech
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2012 12:16 PM CDT

(Newser) – When high school English teacher David McCullough Jr. told a group of Massachusetts graduates they're not special, he wasn't expecting the deluge of publicity that followed, most of it "enthusiastically positive." He reflects on the experience and offers a follow-up in the Daily Beast, in which he notes that, while waiting for a recent appearance on CBS This Morning, he found himself in the same room as Nobel laureate, economist, and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. And so McCullough speculates: The very-accomplished Krugman probably never went to "economics camp," he guessed, or got a special $100-an-hour economics tutor.

Krugman probably stumbled upon an interest in economics, much as McCullough himself stumbled into teaching. And rather than being coddled along the way, Krugman was probably challenged, his thoughts criticized, leading him to persevere. "For none of this did he feel particularly heroic. Or special," McCullough muses. "And I'll guess over time he came to realize the toil had become a pleasure, then a joy, then a way of life, perhaps even an inextricable part of his being." That's the kind of experience McCullough hopes today's graduates will have. Only then will they truly prize what they've achieved, "because once upon a time it didn't come easy." Full piece here. (Read more David McCullough stories.)

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