Posts Tagged ‘thinking’


Face Book always wants to know what’s on your mind. Most FB followers are less interested in what’s really on your mind, preferring to see selfies, cat videos, and quotes about how much they love third cousins (pease like and share).  A blog, on the other hand encourages you to speak your mind. So, what’s on my mind?  Roads. Those taken and those not taken.

When I think about roads, two thoughts immediately come to mind.  The classic Robert Frost poem and M. Scott Peck’s best seller “The Road Less Traveled.”

Apparently L. Frank Baum was not interested in the road conundrum. When Dorothy met the Scarecrow she was not at a crossroad.  She didn’t wonder which way to go. She and the Scarecrow engaged in the usual blah-blah-blah and in short order were off to see the Wizard.  (I believe the yellow brick road Dorothy was traveling on was her road less traveled.)

For whatever reason, the filmmakers wanted Dorothy to have to make a choice.  It’s funny, but after all the pondering, the movie lacks any dialogue on why Dorothy and the Scarecrow did take the road they eventually took.

Looking back on my highway I can say without fear of contradiction that choosing the road to take is not a once-in-a-lifetime event.  In fact we are constantly having to choose the road to take. Sometimes we take the well-traveled road and less frequently we take the less-traveled road.

Every semester when I begin teaching the one course I teach, I ponder the question of which road to take.  Every semester I am greeted with twenty new faces.

I am teaching the GPS generation.  They were born knowing where they wanted to go and they seem to know exactly what road/s they have to take to get there…wherever there is.

I am the scarecrow they meet on the road.  To be honest, most students do not want to engage in conversation let alone take me down and invite me to travel along with them.

The dilemma I face every semester is do I act like a brainless scarecrow? Do I just smile, go through the academic motions and keep my big mouth shut? Or. Or. Or do I rip myself off the wood frame and open my big mouth?

Why would I want to do that?  Because I believe that letting them go their merry way toward Corporate City without asking them to think about the journey would not only be a mistake, I would be missing an  opportunity to shake them up a little.

My greatest fear is that the current generation is actually lost. And that’s not a bad thing.  They should be lost, or at least they should think long and hard about the yellow brick road in their life. The current generation is so directed, so pampered and so content that rather than ask hard questions about their journey, all they want is for you, the teacher, to see they graduate with an EZPass.

I have no doubt that the students in my class will succeed.  They have been well-taught. They know what to do and how to do it to succeed. They are determined.

I am a speed bump.  I want my students to think. I want my students to question and to challenge beliefs they have taken for granted. I want them to believe they have a choice.  I want them to understand that consequences come both from taking action and from choosing to be inactive.  (You can neve escape from consequences.)

In the end I also want my students to realize that the most important thing is to make sure the road they travel is THEIR road because THEIR road is one that has never been traveled on.

It’s all about seizing opportunites. But we all need to remember that opportunity is not a lenghty visitor.

A bumper sticker from my college days gave me some food for thought: Remember, wherever you go there YOU are.


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wizard commencement

Keeping the YBR Commencement address tradition alive, here is the 2013 address delivered by the Wizard of Oz:

Tom Hanks was busy on Broadway, Meryl Streep is off in Mozambique filming a movie, One Direction was going in a different direction and Lindsay Lohan just checked into the Emerald Rehab Center, so at the last minute I, the president of Emerald City University, will be your honored 2013 commencement speaker, at a bargain price of only $25,000.

While I have been unmasked, or in my case “uncurtained” as a humbug, let me tell you that everything I say today will be the unvarnished truth…or close to it, perhaps. Maybe.

With tuition, room and board, unnecessary fees, books, and supplies, you, members of the Class of 2013, have paid roughly $200,000 for your education.  Many of you will leave here in debt and without the prospect of a decent paying job. Hell, most of you won’t even be able to get a job at Five Munchkins, the hamburger joint I just opened in Oz.

But don’t let that get you down, because while you can put a price tag on a degree, you really can’t put a price tag on learning. If you came here simply to “earn” a degree, you not only wasted your time, you threw away $200,000, because you could have gone online and bought an Emerald City Degree for $10.95 plus shipping and handling.

A degree, my friends, is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Learning, as the makers of Master Card say, is priceless. Trust me when I say that. Those of you who spent four years here in the hallowed halls of academia were presented with an opportunity that usually only comes once in a lifetime. Some students think of college as a big Quicky Mart where they filled up on high-priced junk food. Others approached their stay at college from the perspective of a shopper at a ShopRite or a Publics where they had aisles and aisles of items to choose from to prepare their academic meal. Others still, opted to have an organic college experience. Instead of loading up their shopping cart with packaged foods, they shopped around and went to a fruit and vegetable stand for fresh produce; they went to a farmer for range-free eggs, and meats from animals that were not fed hormones; and instead of buying baked goods off the shelf, they bought fresh ingredients and baked their own bread.

Students like that “learned.” Students like that took the time to become educated. Instead of fretting over a grade, they explored the material to see what gems they could add to their lives. Instead of only taking safe courses, they expanded their minds by taking courses that challenged them to think.

And that, young graduates, is the purpose of a college education. To think. And not only to think, but to take action, to be involved in the world.

Think how many spring break trips you could have taken for $200,000. Think about the buzz and all the cavorting you could have done in Cancun, the Virgin Islands (are there still any virgin islands left in the world?), the Riviera, New Orleans, etc., etc.

But think about how far you could have traveled here in Emerald City University if you had used your passport to learning to unlock all the doors of wonder that awaited you.

To quote my dear friend, Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go..”

My hot air balloon awaits me, so let me tell you something about the price of an education. You get out of it what you put into it. You’ll have a number of jobs before you call it quits. And if your education was limited to getting jobs…and that makes you happy, then so be it. But, if your education puts you on your own yellow brick road, then you have invested wisely for you will be prepared for the journey that will last your lifetime.

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”

Do yourself proud. Keep on truckin’

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