By Allison Hamburger
When I hear that we have a guest speaker, my first instinct, like many of my classmates, is to groan. A foreign schedule, a prolonged day and uncomfortable plastic chairs just don’t seem to add up to a pleasant experience.
Yet my first instinct is odd, as it usually proves false. I enjoy the assemblies a great deal, despite the minor annoyances.
These speakers are captivating, but not because of their significant accomplishments or endeavors to aid a particular cause. Though such qualities are worthy of appreciation, history and the media are full of equally accomplished figures. Our gain instead is the way our visitors speak.
They are, for lack of a better word, well-spoken. Obvious? Perhaps.
I am sure the school aims to bring in well-spoken individuals, since they are, in fact, speaking.
But in a world where Snooki writes best-sellers, it is nice and even kind of exceptional to hear from truly intelligent, successful people who are passionate about their work, whatever it may be.
Listening to speakers gives students a rare opportunity to look beyond typical learning, to see that there are innumerable ways to affect this world. We already know that big issues exist, and though more awareness can only help, the speakers’ interest itself can be far more valuable.
Not surprisingly, we seldom spend valuable classroom time cultivating interests that are not set by the curriculum. In the midst of grades and assignments, it is easy to lose sight of why we learn: because knowledge is exciting. Our speakers epitomize this idea, whether they are an artist, entrepreneur or journalist.
Not all of the speakers have been beyond incredible, but I cannot say that I have not gotten something out of each one. The stories can be interesting. The dramatic causes can be inspirational.
But if neither applies, we at least get the chance to break from our everyday schedule and listen to someone really smart.