You Are Not Special-- and Other Encouragements

You Are Not Special-- and Other Encouragements

Book - 2014 | 1st ed. --
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A profound expansion of David McCullough, Jr.'s popular commencement speech--a call to arms against a prevailing, narrow, conception of success viewed by millions on YouTube--You Are (Not) Special is a love letter to students and parents as well as a guide to a truly fulfilling, happy life.

Children today, says David McCullough--high school English teacher, father of four, and son and namesake of the famous historian--are being encouraged to sacrifice passionate engagement with life for specious notions of success. The intense pressure to excel discourages kids from taking chances, failing, and learning empathy and self-confidence from those failures.

In You Are (Not) Special, McCullough elaborates on his now-famous speech exploring how, for what purpose, and for whose sake, we're raising our kids. With wry, affectionate humor, McCullough takes on hovering parents, ineffectual schools, professional college prep, electronic distractions, club sports, and generally the manifestations, and the applications and consequences of privilege. By acknowledging that the world is indifferent to them, McCullough takes pressure off of students to be extraordinary achievers and instead exhorts them to roll up their sleeves and do something useful with their advantages.

Publisher: New York : Harpercollins Publishers, c2014.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780062257345
Characteristics: xxxii, 316 p.


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Lewiscarl Jun 11, 2017

This is just a really beautiful book. I like his encouragements about students, school, being a parent, knowing yourself and other things. He has a way of saying things that makes me chuckle. And his advice to read books for enjoyment and to learn about life is what's making me a reader again.

Even in this culture where every kid is special and they should do a thousand things to stand out from the rest, you kind of realize you're not special anymore if you're doing what everyone else is doing. And maybe it's okay if you don't stand out from the rest. As long as you're out there being yourself and working together with others to help this world be a better place, then that is what matters. His chapter about death also makes you want to appreciate life just a little more.

Very quickly, his book makes you feel like he knows what you're thinking and knows what you've been through and also what you might go through. It's comforting and reassuring.

I think his one message in this book is to live life loving what you do and to be yourself. It's cliched but very, very heartening. (And no worries, it's not all pie in the sky, he balances all these lofty notions of being yourself with the real world.)

Give it a read. If you don't like it, that's okay too.

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