In 2010, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, delivered the Baccalaureate Address at Princeton University. Last year, I showed this video of his address to my 5th grade GT students. In 18 minutes, Jeff Bezos is able to sum up everything that I hope that my students will gather from our classroom activities and discussions. In particular, I like this part of his speech, “What I want to talk to you about today is the difference between gifts and choices. Cleverness is a gift, kindness is a choice. Gifts are easy — they’re given after all. Choices can be hard. You can seduce yourself with your gifts if you’re not careful, and if you do, it’ll probably be to the detriment of your choices.” You can find a complete transcript of his address here.
This year, I will show this video to my current 5th graders, and we will talk about the questions that Mr. Bezos poses at the end of his address. My students may not be in college, yet, but it is never too early to consider that our strengths can be destructive when wielded without thought for others.
This video can also be viewed at http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jeff_bezos_gifts_vs_choices.html