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2011-06-25 15:14:11|  分类: 英语文章 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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The Commencement Speech You’ll Never Hear


By Jacob Neusner (A Religion Research Professor in Brown University)

雅各布 纽斯纳  (布朗大学宗教研究系教授)

We the faculty take no pride in our educational achievements with you. We have prepared you for a world that does not exist, indeed, that cannot exist. You have spent four years supposing that failure leaves no record. You have learned at Brown that when your work goes poorly, the painless solution is to drop out. But starting now, in the world to which you go, failure marks you. Confronting difficulty by quitting leaves you changed, Outside Brown, quitters are no heroes.


With us you could argue about why your errors were not errors, why mediocre work really was excellent, why you could take pride in routine and slipshod presentation. Most of you, after all, can look back on honor grades for most of what you have done. So, here grades can have meant little in distinguishing the excellent from the ordinary. But tomorrow, in the world to which you go, you had best not defend errors but learn from them. You will be ill-advised to demand praise for that does not deserve it and abuse those who do not give it.


For years we created an altogether forgiving world, in which whatever slight effort you gave was all that was demanded. When you did not keep appointments, we made new ones , When you work came in beyond the deadline, we pretended not to care. Worse still, when you were boring, we acted as if you were saying something important. When you were garrulous and talked to hear yourselves talk, we listened as if it mattered. When you tossed on our desks writing upon which you had not labored, we read it and even responded, as though you earned a response. When you were dull, we pretended you were smart. When you were predictable, unimaginative and routine, we listened as to new and wonderful things. When you demanded free lunch,we served it. And all this why?


Despite your fantasies, it was not even that we wanted to be liked by you. It was that we did not want to be bothered, and the easy way out was pretense: smiles and easy Bs.

It is conventional to quote in addresses such as these. Let me quote someone you’ve never heard of: Prof. Carter A. Daniel, Rutgers University (Chronicle of Higher Education, May 7, 1979):



“College has spoiled you by reading papers that don’t deserve to be read, listening to comments that don’t deserve a hearing, paying attention even to the lazy, ill-informed and rude. We had to do it, for sake of education. But nobody will ever do it again. College has deprived you of adequate preparation for the last 50 years. It has failed you by being easy, free, forgiving, attentive, comfortable, interesting, unchallenging fun. Good luck tomorrow.”

“大学教授们阅读本不值得阅读的论文,倾听本不值得倾听的议论,关心那些懒惰的,不学无术的,甚至粗鲁的学生,把你们大家给惯坏了。为了教育的缘故,我们只能如此。但是将来再没有人会那么做了。大学并未使你们为未来的50年做好充分的准备。在轻松、自由、 宽容、关爱、舒适、有趣而又不具挑战的环境中,大学辜负了你们。祝你们明天好运!”

That is why, on this commencement day, we have noting in which to take much pride.

Oh, yes, there is one more thing. Try not to act toward you coworkers and bosses as you acted toward us. I mean, when they give you what you want but have not earned, don’t abuse them, insult them, act out with them your parlous relationships with you parents. This too we have tolerated. It was, as I said, not to be liked. Few professors actually care whether or not they are liked by peer-paralyzed adolescents, fools so shallow as to imagine professors care not about education but about popularity. It was, again, to be rid of you. So go, unlearn the lies we taught you. To life!










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