|What now? And what then?
Questions for graduates at commencement
Martin Luther King, Jr., told the story
of “a wise old preacher who went to a college to deliver a
baccalaureate sermon. After finishing his message, he lingered on
campus to talk with members of the graduating class.
“He spoke with a brilliant young graduate named Robert. His first question to Robert was, ‘What are your plans for the future?’
“'I plan to go immediately to law school,’
Robert answered. ‘What then, Robert?’ asked the preacher. ‘Well,’
responded Robert, ‘I plan to get married and start a family and then
get myself securely established in my law practice.’
“'What then, Robert?’
continued the preacher. Robert answered, ‘I must frankly say that I
plan to make lots of money from my law practice and thereby I
hope to retire rather early and spend a great deal of time traveling to
various parts of the world — something that I have always wanted to do.’
“‘And what then, Robert?’ inquired the preacher with an almost annoying inquisitiveness. ‘Well,’ said Robert, ‘those are all my plans.’
“Looking at Robert
with a countenance expressing pity and fatherly concern, the preacher
said, ‘Young man, your plans are far too small. They can extend only 75
or 100 years at the most. You need a plan that is so large and broad
that it cannot be bound by the chains of time or the manacles of space.’
“Life has three dimensions — length, breadth, and height, and life at its very best is like a balanced, equilateral triangle.
“The length of life is the inward drive to achieve your personal ends and ambitions, an inward concern for your own welfare and achievements.
“The breadth of life is outward concern for the well-being of others.
“The height of life is the upward reach for God.
“Achieving a balanced life
starts with loving yourself, if that means rational and healthy
self-interest. Set yourself earnestly to discover what you are made to
do, and then give yourself passionately to the doing of it. This clear,
onward drive toward self-fulfillment is the length dimension of your
“But we have not learned to live well
until we can rise above the narrow confines of our individual concerns.
We need to care for the broader concerns of others, of all humanity. In
order to live creatively and meaningfully, your self-concern must be
wedded to concern for others. That is loving your neighbor as you love
yourself, and is the breadth dimension of life.
“The height dimension of life
is giving priority to God. Without God, all our efforts turn to ashes
and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without God, life is a
meaningless drama in which the decisive scenes are missing. But with
God we are able to rise from tension-packed valleys to the sublime
heights of inner peace and are able to find radiant stars of hope to
light our way through the most depressing nights.
“Only by paying painstaking attention
to developing and balancing the length, breadth, and height dimensions
of your life can you expect to live a full and complete life. Make your
plans large and broad. Give your life — all you have and are — to the
God of the universe whose plans include eternity.”
(Based on excerpts from Strength to Love)
|First impressions can be misleading.
Just ask this first grade teacher
and the student’s mother.
When first grade students
were told to draw a picture showing what they wanted to be when they
grew up, one of the girls told her teacher, "I want to be like Mommy,"
and handed in this drawing. Her teacher
gasped when she saw the drawing, but praised the little girl for her
work and then put the drawing into the child’s packet of papers to take
The next day
the little girl returned to school with the drawing and a note for the
teacher from her very embarrassed mother — who had instructed her
daughter to make certain the teacher read Mommy’s note.
The note said,
“I want to explain my daughter’s drawing. My friends say it looks like
a drawing of me at a dance pole on a stage surrounded by male customers
handing over cash, but it’s not. I work in a hardware store and told my
daughter how much money we made during the snowstorm last week. Her
drawing is a picture of me selling snow shovels.”
|Helping students write well
is helping students to excel.
Motivation and foundational skill development in my programs and books provide students with enrichment that pays dividends for a lifetime. -- John Gile
Here's what educators say:
“He is about the best author that I've seen as far as teaching and
speaking on what we teach. I'd like to see him here next year.” —
Carolyn F., Vestavia Central, Birmingham, AL
for spending time with the children — my writing center was full as a
result of your presentation.” — Ann V., Bannes School, Tinley Park, IL
Gile talked to the kids in a way they could understand. He answered all
of their questions and was very patient . . . Great presentation!” —
Kathryn P., and Phyllis K., Teachers, Harrisburg, PA
of the best I've had the opportunity to be a part of . . . made every
student feel that he could become a writer, too.” — Roberta P.,
Wilder-Waite, Peoria, IL
knew exactly what worked with kids . . . The students, as well as I
myself, were eager to read and write. It excited them.” — Ann C.,
Teacher, Cascade, IA
felt very inspired after your presentation and many students vocalized
similar feelings after the presentation . . . One of my students was
talking and you moved him in front of you. After the presentation that
student kept talking about how wonderful the presentation was. You
really impacted his attitude about writing along with other students'
attitudes.” — Nicole N., Banner Elementary, Dunlap, IL
• “Children are more interested in spending the time and effort to do quality writing now.” — Dorothy D., Teacher, Perham, MN
ability to motivate the students who are typically reluctant to write .
. . It's a great program. I've recommended it to teachers in other
districts. I'd like to see it recycle through our schools every two or
three years.” — Carl S.,Lincoln, West Chicago, IL
• “My students came back to the room very excited about writing.” — Cathy R., VHEC, Germany
• "I was especially pleased to hear our high schoolers state how interesting you were."— IL
program! Several children left the presentation and sat down to write a
book! We really appreciated his reinforcement of things we teach —
reading, rewriting. Thank you for a wonderful presentation!” — Gail M.,
Teacher, Austin Elementary, Odessa, TX
• “The presentation made me want to do more writing!” — Larry H., Middle School Teacher, LaGrange, IL
was great the way he varied what he said to his audience's age level. .
. . I feel his presentation touched the lives of all who heard him. It
was very well organized — points clear with excellent examples.” — Rita
P., Teacher, Cleveland Elementary, Elkhart, IN
were writing books during recess after they saw your presentation . . .
Good student involvement” — Kelly S., Ellsworth Elementary, Naperville,
• “Students gained a new perspective on writing, and so did I!” — NY
made the presentation so interesting that it piqued the children's
interest. As a result, the students asked terrific questions! . . .
Warm, caring, honest demeanor. We loved meeting him. Outstanding
presentation — well organized — interesting materials — I love the way
he truly cares about children and what he's trying to do for all of
us.” — Taylor Park Teacher, Freeport, IL
great workshop! Children were interested, excited and couldn't wait to
make their own book.” Kathy C., Jackson Heights Elementary, Glens
• “Very enjoyable — the kids were very excited and eager to start writing!” — K. M., Galloway School, Channahon, IL
. . Involved the kids and got them to draw on their own experiences and
identify with the author. . . Wonderful for letting the kids know they
are writers. . . John gave us ideas to reinforce with the students. . .
I thought it was grade appropriate and kept the children thinking! . .
. Motivation!” — Cindy N., Richards School, Whitefish Bay, WI
a wonderful presentation. The children were spellbound . . . For many
of them this day will be a memory that lasts forever.” — Cathy G.,
Cultural Resources Coordinator, Normal, IL
“Excellent rapport with students . . . The students came away feeling
good about their efforts to write. I think this was due to the warm,
caring atmosphere that was created.” — Deborah S., Teacher, Hightower
Elementary, Conyers, GA
| I'm an author and publisher (http://www.jgcunited.com/bio.html) in
Illinois and I often present writing workshops for students,
for teachers, for professionals who write for publication
(http://www.jgcunited.com/enrichment.html), and for groups fostering personal growth and professional enrichment. I also do one-on-one
coaching and counseling for individual writers on Skype or by phone and
email. Click here to contact me.
Whole person education is more than literacy.
I write books and present programs that foster literacy
— reading, writing, listening, thinking, and speaking skills — because
I believe those are our highest gifts and our primary survival skills
for the 21st century. But whole person education, not simply fostering
literacy, is my primary goal.
Literacy alone is not enough.
Literacy is fundamental, the most basic learning tool,
the key to lifelong-learning and achievement. Because virtually every
social problem in America has a literacy connection, it is correctly
identified as our most pressing social need. Fostering literacy in
children and adults is one of the most effective and enduring ways we
can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, and give
hope to the hopeless. But literacy alone is not enough. Some of the
worst atrocities and crimes against humanity have been committed by
persons who can read. Our nation's corporate scandals in recent years
have been perpetrated by men and women who could read.
We need more than literacy. We need character.
Literacy is essential, but literacy alone may
simply give us smarter thugs, more clever thieves and liars, more
resourceful destroyers of human dignity. We need more than literacy. We
need character — instruction in and commitment to ethical, honorable
behavior. But character, too, falls short of what we need for a truly
civilized society and world at peace where all have the opportunity to
develop their full potential. Character is merely strong adherence to a
moral code. If the moral code is wrong, strength of character merely
increases the potential for causing human suffering and misery.
Leaders of the Socialist Workers' Party
in Germany, for example, had strength of character, and so did the
people who flew planes into the World Trade Center. The problem is
their moral codes were wrong. Their moral codes included some people
and excluded others. Because their flawed moral codes failed to include
everyone, their strength of character merely increased their capacity
to do horrendous evil and commit despicable acts against innocent
We need more than character.
The only moral code that assures human progress
in peace and justice for all is love. Another word for that love is
respect — respect for every man, woman, and child, without exception,
and respect for ourselves and the human dignity with which each one of
us is endowed.
Literacy is important. Character is important. But it is love,
manifest in respect for ourselves and others, which is the highest
level of human achievement. When our common goal is to be persons of
love, persons of compassion and cooperation, then literacy and
character will help us work for and thrive in communities where "the
strong are just, the weak secure, and the peace preserved." —John Gile