This is one of those timeless pieces. Although it was written by David Orr in 1990, it is a valuable perspective - as valuable today as it ever was and ever will be. I had my 12 and 10-year olds read it and discuss it in the wake of what happened recently in Mumbai, and in the light of daily commentary on global warming and climate change.
I think high school children - old enough to debate global issues, participate in Model UNs and what not - should deliberate on the message in this speech. Although it was made as a commencement address to students graduating from college, I think kids should leave school - not college - with this message, so that it can shape what they study and do with their lives - and more importantly, how they do it.
One does not have to necessarily agree with everything David Orr says in this essay. It is enough that every citizen of this earth give this question deep and quality thought. When I look back on my studies in education at Harvard I feel that the paper on "What is the purpose of schooling?" was one of the defining moments of that academic sojourn. It was at once the most difficult and the most fulfilling exercise. I would give this question higher billing, and go a step further to contend that deliberation on this question could well be a critical part of human development, and must in some form or fashion, be part of every academic program - not just one on education.