Monday, March 21, 2011


I received a forward last week from none other than my father, the King of forwards. Knowing how I feel about forwards, he's very selective on which ones he sends me. The ones he does send however are usually ones with "life lessons" or something profound that he wants his children to hear. So I read them hoping to be inspired. The one I received last week outlined 11 "common sense" rules that kids will not learn in school that were supposedly voiced to high school students during a commencement speech given by Microsoft's CEO, Bill Gates.

After doing a little research on and, I quickly learned however that the rules were neither written nor spoken by Bill Gates and they did not originate as a high school speech. As happens with alarming frequency online, a text written by one person came to be falsely attributed to another, and thanks to ceaseless repetition the attribution stuck and became accepted as fact.

The current incarnation of these rules in fact is a somewhat abridged version of an original piece that was penned by author Charles J. Sykes. The full version was printed in the San Diego Union Tribune on September 19, 1996 and in a number of other publications since then. Sykes is the author of "Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves, but Can't Read, Write, or Add.", "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School", and several other books.
Regardless of who said/wrote them, there's no denying that the truths in this email are pretty spot on. Bottom line according to Charles J. Sykes - the feel good, politically correct teachings in schools has created generations of kids with no concept of reality and this concept sets them up for failure in the real world. To anyone with kids of any age, here's a much needed dose of realism for our youth:

RULE 1: Life is not fair - get used to it.

RULE 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with car phone, until you earn both.

RULE 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

RULE 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it Opportunity.

RULE 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

RULE 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

RULE 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

RULE 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

RULE 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Hoping you have a productive week ahead!

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