[Editorial] Wednesday Assemblies: Worth the While?
by The Milton Measure on Friday, May 17th, 2013
Last week, the student body gathered in King Theatre to hear Erick Tseng ’97, the current head of mobile products at Facebook, talk about a point that we have heard before in speeches from Paul Tough and Pamela Husain. However, Tseng’s theme of daring to take chances and not being afraid to fail resonated much deeper with us than the very same point made by different speakers did. Why did Erick Tseng receive such an ecstatic response when speakers just as qualified and knowledgeable heard crickets?
The simple answer is that Erick Tseng is relatable. It is fun to listen to an attractive, funny, energetic Milton alumnus who is aware of what teenagers care about and will respond to. A vivacious and passionate speaker, Erick Tseng kept us interested in the points he made. Moreover, Tseng engaged us by touching on experiences specific to Milton students. Finally, Tseng inspired us when he brought dozens of audience members to the stage to share what they would do if they weren’t afraid. Enthused applause erupted when he concluded, and we left the speech feeling optimistic and refreshed.
The Erick Tseng experience differs from the Wednesday assembly norm, when we check our phones and wait for the clock to strike 10. The points may be just as valid and the speakers may be just as intelligent; however, without an appealing and upbeat delivery, the speakers tend to exhaust the short-attention spans of tired teenagers, obstructing their audience members from digesting the presentation’s material.
So how do we keep students entertained? It is rare for a speaker to offer an obsolete or repetitive point of view, as he or she has been selected by a club or organization in order to shed new light upon an economic, political, or social issue. If we as a community begin to choose speakers solely based on their charisma and ability to harness the attention of the student body, then we could potentially discount speakers with groundbreaking ideas that can’t seem to engage several hundred high schoolers for 45 minutes. However, if a speaker is unable to convey his or her point accurately through speech, the ideas, no matter how enlightening, lose credibility as the students simply stop listening.
It is on both us students and the speakers to be able to get more out of the Wednesday morning assemblies; they are amazing opportunities that we need to take advantage of. We students need to make a stronger effort to both understand and heed the points offered by speakers. On the other hand, when the speakers offer their points in more engaging ways, the audience takes more away from the speech; just as important as a speaker’s actual point is how that speaker can convey that point to a group of over 600 fourteen to eighteen year-olds. As we have seen, having an impressive resume or wide breadth of knowledge is not enough to captivate this high school audience. The speakers who can see eye-to-eye with us both receive positive reactions from us and inspire us to live by their words. We as students need to be more active in grasping the the lessons that every speaker has to share, and speakers should show an awareness of their audience, not by diluting their points, but by presenting them in a way that keeps us engaged.
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