Seeing through illusion

Needed: graduates with critical minds
I am an avid reader of graduation speeches. A graduation speaker must convey an idea under difficult conditions and in a short time—an almost impossible challenge. So I am fascinated when I find a speech that works. This year’s best speech had this title: “What are you going to do with that?” The question could apply to any degree, but Mark Danner was speaking to graduating students of English at the University of California at Berkeley.

This is the class that entered college in September 2001. As the world was falling apart, these students went to their moms and dads and announced, “Folks, I am going to major in English.” How could Mom and Dad respond to such an impractical choice at a time when practicality was at a high premium?

Mark Danner had a response:


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