Not Entirely the Best Slave

Sunni's picture

And the young woman who labeled herself “the best slave” also clearly and beautifully demonstrates that it applies in only a very limited context.

Via a very dear friend who prefers anonymity, and via Freedom’s Phoenix, I commend to thee the remarkable speech Here I Stand. This is the text version of Erica Goldson’s valedictory speech at her high school. Here’s a sample:

We [in the American education system] are so focused on a goal, whether it be passing a test, or graduating as first in the class. However, in this way, we do not really learn. We do whatever it takes to achieve our original objective.

Some of you may be thinking, “Well, if you pass a test, or become valedictorian, didn’t you learn something?” Well, yes, you learned something, but not all that you could have. Perhaps, you only learned how to memorize names, places, and dates to later on forget in order to clear your mind for the next test. School is not all that it can be. Right now, it is a place for most people to determine that their goal is to get out as soon as possible.

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared.

To my mind these paragraphs—and the entire speech—show that Ms. Goldson has little factual basis for being scared; despite being valedictorian, she did learn a few valuable things during her stint in the indoctrination camps. I strongly suspect she won’t forget them, so they will serve her well through the years. And I thank Ms. Goldson, for helping me to remember that all of us can—and need to—challenge the weight of social expectations that hang around all our necks.

Ray of hope?

I was very glad to read this earlier. Sometimes it gets so discouraging, seeing so little indication of independent thinking or rational decision making from most of those coming out of the government indoctrination camps.

It's good to know that at least a few can survive and, as this one no doubt will, escape the conditioning and become a productive, self governing individual.

One of the many new fears that came to roost this weekend

was that of the future for my newborn son. Public education is likely in his future, but so is a healthy dose of daddy's wisdom (as laid out in the poem for him at my blog)! I wouldn't say these are fears so much as worries; I fear not. I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl still, though.


Murphy's Bye-Laws


I’ll admit I’ve been stalking your blog, hoping you’d make an announcement there. I trust all are doing well. I’m very happy for you all, and wish you nothing but the best.

You have plenty of time before educational decisions need to be made ... please enjoy all the moments in between now and then.

Still catching my breath

There will be a post about it with plenty of pictures once I find time. For now, though, there are these pictures from my phone:


Murphy's Bye-Laws

Cold water

I hate myself for being skeptical sometimes, but I found myself wondering why this eloquent young lady had only ever posted one blog post. I Googled her and found mostly links to the speech, but also found a forum to a person who linked to news coverage of the Coxsacki-Athens High School graduation and quoted from Erica's speech. The description seems a little more standard-graduation-speechy, and there's a quote that doesn't appear in "Here I Stand."

Here's the link.

It's still a remarkable speech. I'm just questioning whether it came from who it says it came from.

Hot water (avoidance thereof)

Lookie here!

A June 26 article about the Coxsackie-Athens High School graduation quoted a speech prepared by valedictorian Erica Goldson and given by her in advance to the school district’s administration. The administration in turn provided a copy to a reporter, who used it to prepare a short item on the graduation exercise.

On Monday, Goldson said she did not give that speech during the graduation ceremony. She said she submitted a fake speech to the administration and then gave a different address during the ceremony. ...

Looks like it was real. :-)

I congratulate Erica for getting this far in her thinking. But I feel like she's done the classic thesis and antithesis without yet arriving at synthesis.

An explanation

Well, that explains how she got it past the administration. I didn't think they would let that speech fly.

Good girl!!

"She said she submitted a fake speech to the administration and then gave a different address during the ceremony. .."

Ah, monkey wrenching at such a tender age. This one may be a keeper. :)

Suspicion confirmed

I’ll admit, that’s exactly what I’d suspected—and hoped—was going on when I read the news report Uncle Warren linked to.

My faith is restored ...

It would be very interesting, then, to have been there to see the reaction. I'm thinking the administration was not pleased by the sudden outbreak of clear thinking.

And there's another comment on the contemporary state of the media in this. Apparently at this paper "she said" has replaced "she said in remarks prepared for delivery," which would have been more honest reporting and allowed for variations in the actual speech. Nothing in the original story about 11 local graduations indicated they were quoting from ceremonies they did not attend. Nor does the correction appear with the (untouched) original story online. As a journalist I would be more embarrassed than the school administrators.


It looks like there is a video of this.

[Link changed by Sunni to go to vid on YouTube.]