Whether or not you are in support of the President's speech to students today (9/8/09 at noon), you should watch it if you're going to have an opinion that you share with others! The White House website has made the code available to post the streaming video on your own site - which I've done here.
Personally, when I first heard of the speech I didn't think much about it. A pep-rally style speech about why kids should take their education seriously? Okay, whatever, there are always little sound bite public service announcements telling kids to stay in school.
But then it seemed like everywhere I turned people were convinced that this was a sign of the apocalypse. So I started looking into the content of the speech, including the supplemental materials provided to teachers. I thought this seemed like a bit much, making more of a distraction than necessary. However, after actually reading through the handouts, I've changed my tune.
The preK-6 one is a little awkward in its phraseology. Questions like, "what does the President want you to do?" invite criticism from those who are already on a Socialist witch hunt. I probably would have worded the questions differently. But the purpose of the question is to test for listening comprehension and basic critical thinking skills. These are skills our children are supposed to be learning.
And to those who say the kids need to learn "reading, writing and arithmetic" - this is true, but not the whole picture. Recently, someone rightly noted that there are plenty of educated people who are not very intelligent. I will say that knowing how to read, write and do math without knowing how to listen critically is one symptom of educated idiocy that we encounter on a regular basis.
Beyond that, the purpose seems to be encouraging students to take responsibility for their education and set goals. I fail to see how we can object to that...it is possible that the actual speech will take that in a propaganda direction, but doing so will diverge from the material provided ahead of time.
So, even though I live in Texas and saying so is enough to get me branded and blacklisted, I think this is a good idea and a useful teaching moment.
As for the speech itself, I am going to wait until I've listened to what the man says before I either praise or crucify him...and you should too.
I wrote this post last week and scheduled it to go up today. In the meantime, The White House released the script to the speech on their blog - which you can read here.