pres. obama's speech to kids - full text

the white house released president obama's prepared remarks that he will deliver to schoolchildren on tuesday.

at first blush, this is very much on the order of obama's campaign speeches or more recent statements about education, in which he urges a collective sense of individual responsibility, and strives to ignite fires of innovation in his listeners. but there are some important distinctions that stand out, like the reference to specific pop culture artifacts and texts, perhaps to resonate with his intended audience:
e.g., "I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox."
"Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class."

and he weaves his own narrative through this address, not to deliver an unexamined "bootstraps" message, but rather to illuminate the ways in which his individual determination and educational success was mediated and informed by the communities through which he traversed. the personal narrative is a tale of many cities...

i hope teachers and families not only share this speech with school-age children in their charge, but they engage with it critically. perhaps they'll wordle it, like @librarybeth has done here. or maybe they'll hold a debate to argue against or for some of the subtler points embedded throughout. i hope we engage with that which we find unfamiliar, if for no other reason than to be able to identify what it is that bothers us. but perhaps in that journey, we find things that we can agree on and we move forward. together.


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