September 7th, 2009

obama-familySo, apparently, there’s this big habbabalou circling schools and the internets and all sorts of things right now, concerning a presidential address to the kids in school tomorrow. (Can you tell I don’t watch the news? Heh. I only know because it came through my feed reader and other mom’s are talking about it.) Tomorrow, I guess, is the traditional first day of school for most folks, though most everyone I know has already been in school for a couple weeks.

I think the best coverage I’ve seen on this subject is from Rachel Sklar, with Mediaite, and her article “President Obama Is Coming For Your Children!” Mostly, because she starts out with the same exact thing I said.. “Seriously, are people in this country CRAZY?”

Presidents have addressed our children before – Just say No, anyone? – and the only difference is that Media is used more often in the classroom today than it was in years past – giving easy access to it. Even so, it seems people are more upset about the message, the propaganda, the BRAINWASHING OF OUR CHILDREN by the leader of the Free World.

What is this message? Well – there has been no releasing of his speech, but if the president himself is to be believed in a recent interview with a school child, where he said:

“On September 8th…I will be making a big speech to young people across the country about the importance of education, the importance of staying in school, how we want to improve our education system and why it’s so important for the country.”

OH NOZ! The President is gonna tell our kids to GASP STAY IN SCHOOL and LEARN MOAR STUFF. SOMEONE STOP HIM!

Also, there’s a teacher’s guide being passed around that’s also subject to debate, because it (GASP) suggests that Teachers TALK TO THEIR STUDENTS about the Presidential speech. It suggests that they ask the students to ask themselves questions, like “What is the President trying to tell me, asking me to do, what challenging ideas is he asking me to think about.. is he asking things of my parents, teachers, American Citizens?”

Oh no. Critical thinking at such an early age. IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT! (…and I feel fiiiiiiiiiiiiine…)

The teachers guide goes on to ask the students to share their ideas and thoughts about the speech. So what are many schools doing? (Not mine, though I live in a predominantly Republican state – in fact, they didn’t even do this mass panic LETTER TO THE PARENTS thing either. I don’t even know if they’re showing the speech, here. No matter.) They’re sending out mass messages, warning the parents, giving them the option to skip school, attend school with their child to view the speech, etc. While folks online are comparing this to Hitler’s Youth groups.

It’s all a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? Our president, not the first by a long shot, is going to encourage our kids to stay in school and work hard. Teachers are going to encourage the children to think on their own, and figure out what the message means to them individually. President Obama is not going to brain wash our children with a single speech – and even if he did, that’s not his fault, but YOURS for not doing a better job parenting your children and teaching them critical thought, but making them mindless sheep and followers.

…what, too harsh? My quick little speech there doesn’t make you instantly think that you’re a bad parent raising sheep and followers? It didn’t make you bundle up your kids and take them to school to force feed them a presidential speech? It didn’t make you THINK about anything you haven’t already thought of?

Yeah. This “propaganda” thing is a little harder than it looks, huh?

Seriously, folks. If you’re doing your job as parents, and brainwashing your spawn with your own ideals properly on your own before they get to school, this isn’t going to change their thoughts on anything at all. It’s a speech. And given Obama’s flair for speeches, it’ll be a good one. Relax, and enjoy it.

PS – While I was posting this, they actually released the speech – you can read it here. Here’s an excerpt:

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 and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or 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.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

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.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

Yeah. Break out the picket signs, ya’ll – they’re gonna brain wash your kids into learning more and working hard. GASP.

[Psst – have you entered the sweepstakes today? What are you waiting for? It’s right over there! ———>]

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