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Monday, September 7, 2009

Analyzing Obama's Speech to the KIds

In a word, it's brilliant. To be fair, I pointed out that I didn't want to reflexively criticize and my problems weren't with the speech itself. Rather, it was some of the questions that were in the lesson plan attached to it.

Still, this speech will simply be inspiring and any student that hears this will be better for it. I could literally pick any parts of the speech at random but first here's some of my favorite parts.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could've stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday - at 4:30 in the morning. Now I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."


Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned goodgrades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich andsuccessful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketballor being a reality TV star, when chances are, you're not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject you study. You won't click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That's OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. JK Rowling's first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

No one's born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. It's the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust - a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor - and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

So today, I want to ask you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country? Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part too.

So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down - don't let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

It's simply red meat for Obama the orator. The speech sounded lyrical when I read it to myself. I can only imagine what Obama will be able to do with it. It does a great job of seeing school success as a duty to your country. There's a lot of great stories like JK Rowlings to Jazmeen that the kids can relate to. It gives them a sense of purpose for the year. He asks the kids to make goals, commitments, and hold themselves to those commitments. These are all very positive and healthy messages to any kids.

At this point, I can't see how any one could have any problem with the speech itself. I believe the White House has resolved the issues surrounding the lesson plan questions. If that's so, I have no problem. That said, I'm not a parent nor could I tell other parents what to do in raising their kids.

The White House should itself acknowledge that the lesson plan was done poorly originally, rather than any criticism being silly. Then, we can all move forward. We can all hope that President Obama can continue to inspire the students to do better in school.


Anonymous said...

See kids? If you work REAL hard at school, you can earn the right to spend lots and lots of money to work even harder at College, so you can earn the right work some more!

And if you're REALLY good, you can become President of the United States, where you get to work 20 hours a day every day for 4 years at the end of which almost everybody in America will hate you!

God, I'm glad we have college football right now.

Anonymous said...

The predator gains the parents' and child's trust through innocuous small-talk while drawing affectionate and comforting parallels of similar life experiences.
The harmless chit-chatter occurs repeatedly over time, until the parent is lulled into a false sense of security and the child's trust has been won. Finally, the hunter moves in on his prey.

Similarly, this is just the first of many intimate, seemingly innocuous, but devious socialist interludes that Obama intends to have with our children, so he can eventually move in on their minds.

Anonymous said...

The second comment is a mindless idiot.

How could you possibly read his speech and conclude that you paranoid idiot.