There have been a lot of commencement speeches that have made us laugh, made us cry, and left us with something to think about. The best speeches make us do all of them. Rick Rigsby, an author, teacher, public speaker, and character coach gave a commencement speech at the California State University Maritime academy that's received over 73 million views on Facebook. It's about the lessons he learned from a 3rd grade dropout. That third grade dropout was his father, who taught him life lessons that you can't find in any text book or standardized exam, lessons you can't learn with all the schooling in the world. Dr. Rick Rigsby has four degrees, including a PhD, and has a brother who became a Judge. Despite all of their academic accomplishments, he claims that his father is still the smartest man in the family. In his speech, he recalls when Mark Twain once said:
"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education."
He talks about how his father taught him to combine knowledge and wisdom, in order to make an impact. Only then can you achieve excellence. His father taught him and his brother that it's good to be tough, but always remember to be kind. Simple lessons like these are the ones that stuck with them all the years of their lives.
"Son, you'd better be an hour early, than a minute late."
Most life lessons should be taught at home, there's no doubt about that. Mom and Dad need to teach their kids to be responsible, and teachers should teach them how to read and write. Unfortunately, not every kid has a daddy like Mr. Rick Rigsby, or a mommy for that matter. Some kids don't get that type of guidance outside of school, at all. So it's important for teachers to make time between the tests, the common core, the homework, and the lesson plans, to teach the simple lessons of life. Even if it's only a couple minutes a day, or a couple minutes a week, make the time to talk about kindness, and about challenging yourself to be the best that you can, every day.
"Aristotle said: 'You are what you repeatedly do.' Therefore, excellence ought to be a habit, not an act."
If you like some of these excerpts from the speech, then you'll want to watch the entire thing. And when you're done with it, you're going to want to share it with your students and their parents. You should!