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The Message to the Class of 2012: Answering the Question of "So What?"

It is the question that I often pondered as a high school sophomore while studying the works of William Shakespeare, and answering it is one of the prevailing factors for promoting effective learning in the 21st century.  There are variations of this question which are often posed in the context of “Why do I need to know this?”, “When will I ever use this in my future career?”, or “How is this information going to improve my life?”  As a student who was intrinsically interested in history and science, I routinely asked these very questions while in my least preferred course of study; English.  Fortunately, I eventually acquired a significantly greater appreciation for literary arts as a college student.  The question of “So What?” has likely entered the mind of most students at some point in their learning experience.  It is a question that inevitably evolves into a conversation on engagement in the learning process and connecting that learning to real world concepts.  The SHS class of 2012 will soon take the next step onto a larger world stage where this same question will present an underlying query that must be answered in order to navigate a successful life’s journey.     

As seniors you will soon participate in the most significant culminating experience of your life as a student when you walk the stage at the SHS graduation ceremony.  Afterwards, you will be taking the next step into a world that has rapidly evolved into a global society.  The dynamics of globalization has made “So What?” one of the most relevant questions for your generation.  What is the significance of a drought in Africa to the health and food supply of populations in the western hemisphere?  How can a portfolio of digital photography of protest events in the Middle East influence political decisions of the United States government?  Why would new developments in the field of biological engineering lead to worldwide civic debates in local communities?  These questions reflect how seemingly unrelated events in varied locations around the globe are in some way connected.  As citizens of a global society you will have to consistently develop and enhance a pattern of divergent thinking where you can critically analyze information to make connections that are not always obvious.  Essentially this is the answer to the question of “So What?”  The aptitude for making connections and subsequently predicting, modifying, or creating in your field of work or study will be a determining factor of your success.  Whether your immediate destination is a 4 year university, community college, or the workforce your ability to connect events, information, and ideas will be a significant measure of achievement.

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