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Be Bold. Make Noise. Ask Questions.

Here in Canada, it’s graduation time. This year my youngest child graduates from high school. Although no one is asking, especially not my daughter, I am going to take this opportunity to give her some advice as this phase of her life ends and a new one begins.

Dear Madison,

I know this is an important day for you, one that you are eagerly awaiting. Although the world isn’t going to radically change the day after you get your diploma, you may find it will still take a little time to get your ‘sea legs’. As you make that transition, I’ve come up with a few words of advice that I hope will help you as you move into adulthood. Here they are:

Don’t be compliant. Don’t stand silently in lines. Don’t wait for a ringing bell to tell you to drop whatever you’re doing and move to the next activity. Don’t only answer someone else’s questions. Don’t get all your information from a text book. Don’t expect your work to be evaluated by multiple choice tests. Don’t think that all knowledge consists of a few facts per topic. Don’t judge others based on how they rank on a scorecard. Don’t judge yourself based on one quick snapshot taken one day. Don’t spend all day, every day, in one room or one building. Don’t be timid. Don’t turn off your cell phone. Don’t close your screen. Don’t firewall tools that let you link to others in new ways. Don’t just consume. Don’t sit quietly, not looking at your neighbor. Don’t not share. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t only look at the front of the room. Don’t wait for my response to figure out if you’re right about something. Don’t say what you think I want to hear. Don’t memorize.

Be bold. Make noise. Ask questions. Move around. Look for new things that you find interesting. Give yourself time to explore new (and old) passions. Speak up. Question rules and policies if they seem wrong, unjust. Look at something from a new perspective. Seek diverse sources of information. Find your own facts. Mingle with people who are older/younger than you. Dig deeper. Go out, explore the world. Keep learning. Break some rules. Find knowledge in new places, new people. Look for and accept feedback that helps you grow. Learn when to listen and when to speak, and remember to do both. You have a voice. Make mistakes and learn from them. Explore subjects you’ve never heard of before. Talk to others. Collaborate. Value effort. Create something new. Pass notes. Dare, push yourself to try something new. Daydream. Trust in yourself. Say what you believe. Leave your room, your building. Snapchat. Tweet. Travel. Build an app or a treehouse with real tools. Know that what you do matters. Keep learning, anytime, anywhere.
May 29th, 2013 @ 3:06PM