Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ho Hum



The President gave a speech, and surprise, the hammer and sickle did not appear in my classroom.

I showed the speech to my one class of Juniors, and all my Seniors, and the response was mixed. 

A good portion of students felt that the speech motivated them a little bit, although many said that they were already motivated anyway.  This was especially true in my AP classes. 

Another sizable portion of students felt that they had been hearing the same lecture for years (“Sounded like a student handbook speech”), although it was cool that the President said it. 

No one thought that the speech was overtly political, although when asked “Did you notice anything in the speech that might seem like a call to re-elect”, many noticed the “I am working had to fix your classrooms” etc.  However, many also know that in a democracy, you are almost always running for re-election. 

Some students felt like they had a greater responsibility to the country.  The quotes “I feel a greater weight on my shoulders” and “I feel a little more stressed about my education” were used a couple of times. 

Most students believed that the President’s speech would have limited impact on kids that it “needed” to target, meaning those it was really meant for.  In the eyes of my kids, if a kid their age doesn’t want to pursue an education, the President won’t change that.

The ability to relate to the kids was a big issue.  Some students don’t like the President, but nearly all of them admit that his use of language and themes that they can relate to makes them play attention more.  Remember, this is the generation that watched George Bush Jr. stumble all over the podium for eight years, so it shouldn’t be surprising that youth and vitality, and the ability to enunciate, are important. 

Overall, the reception of the speech was positive.  Only two students seemed to drift (one seemed sick, the other had seen it earlier), and the only time the attention was taken away was when office attendants came in to deliver messages.  I know of only two other teachers in the school that showed the speech to classes.  I also know that the school received parent phone calls with concerns over the President’s speech, although none of them were parents of my kids (I don’t think).  I gave my students the option to leave the classroom, with no one taking the offer. 

I’d like to congratulate elements of my political party for completely choking away any sense of legitimacy for another news cycle.  While plenty of issues need the attention of the loyal opposition, you managed yet again to show that you care more about tearing down the Commander in Chief than governing our nation.  Get to f-ing work and stop bitching. 

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