Monday, June 13, 2016

HGSE Dean’s speech at Open Culture

James E. Ryan, Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, gave a terrific speech at the HGSE diploma ceremony in May. (I linked to the video in this post.) The speech focuses on five questions:

Wait, what?
I wonder why, or if?
Couldn’t we at least?
How can I help?
What really matters?
And a “bonus” question, from Raymond Carver’s poem “Late Fragment”: “And did you get what / you wanted from this life, even so?” (Misquoted as “And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?”)

An excerpt from the speech is now the stuff of a post at Open Culture, which asserts that the questions will bring “happiness & success.” Well, no. The most the dean claims is that asking these questions will give a person “a very good chance of being both successful and happy,” and it’s a tongue-in-cheek claim, “slightly outlandish, but this is a graduation speech.” Carver’s answer to the question “And did you get what / you wanted from this life, even so?” is “I did”:
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
And Dean Ryan:
if you never stop asking and listening for good questions, you will feel beloved on this earth, and just as importantly, you will help others, especially students, feel the same.
Now that’s a good definition of happiness and success.

A related post
Commencement addresses (With a single question from my undergrad commencement)

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