Sunday, September 6, 2009

"Paucity of Respect"

Okay, I am confused by all of the fuss about President Obama's speech to America's students. I am confused about a our local headline that read: "Should we invite Obama to our classrooms?"

Am I missing something here or are people having some sort of historical log jam that causes brain waves to dismount and flow into some abnormal recess where they won't have to think? Having the President of the United States of American talk to our children should be a good thing.

Before I launch in, I didn't vote for President Obama, but I do believe that he believes like I believe that education is the most important ingredient to add to one's life experience in order to "see beyond the present." In fact, my formulaic motto has been this (taken from strategic planning concepts): past + the future = the present. And I think that is what President Obama has tasked himself to do. He wants students to understand that school is very, very important. I don't think there is one person alive--well, maybe a couple--who doesn't believe that education is the key to personal success and the success of economic development.

From what I can gather, President Obama wants to discuss basically three things: 1) to encourage students to work hard (since when is working hard a bad thing?); 2) to encourage students to set education goals for their futures (now, there's a novel idea to set goals so you can achieve something); and 3) help student understand the importance of taking on personal responsibility for learning (student should be taught to be lifelong learners). Tell me what is wrong with these three items?

Okay, I know that there is a particularly "curriculum" that has been devised/developed/created by the Department of Education. I realize that some of the "discussion questions" may not be what some teachers or parents would like their children to be asked. But any teacher worth his or her salt can surely devise other questions that ostensibly will encourage some critical thinking. It seems to me that for decades, teachers--me included--have attempted to inculcate critical thinking into our curricula--across the board. Truly, it cannot be that tough to create other types of discussion or assignments to be used in the classroom. I can think of dozens of ways to make President Obama's speech to students integral to classroom learning. You just have to think about it.

Now, if today's teachers could utilize holograms to "invite" presidents to their classrooms, would they invite Washington, Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and other historical figures to the classroom? You bet! Who wouldn't want President Lincoln to enter their classroom to talk about a variety of issues in his time. If you remember back, there were a whole lot of people who didn't believe anything he said for almost five years. In fact, we went to war over these issues, and families were destroyed because of them. But today, I believe, we would highly encourage President Lincoln to come. Can you imagine having him come and talk about the "Gettysburg Address" and its significance to him and that time and place?

But now, President Obama--the current President of the United States, duly elected by the people--would like a few words with our children to help them understand his love of education and its importance in their lives? I personally do not think there is anything wrong with this.

President Obama talks about the "audacity of hope." All of this hoopla seems to be nothing but a "paucity of respect" for the President of the United States of America. Let's see what he says and then have the discussion--an open, respectful, and critically thought out discussion.


Dear Chicka said...

I really enjoyed reading this dad. Thank you for your insights.

Carl said...

Great blog!

Another thing to consider is that most children in public schools are too young to really understand politics - but they can pretty well grasp what the President of the United States is (at least that's how I was until my mid-teens, looking back). So what is there really to gain by fighting against the opportunity for your child to be addressed by the President? Really, it just brings the kids - who most likely don't even understand why Mom and Dad don't want them to watch the speech - into the middle of the very same style of politics that a huge number of Americans are so upset about right now!

As far as hearing different views, I find that to be a good thing. You probably can figure out from my Facebook posts that I'm not Obama's biggest fan, but I don't understand what possible good can come from a complete disregard for anything the President of the United States has to say - good or bad. I went to "liberal indoctrinating" public schools and I've had a few college classes where the instructor is clearly very liberal in thinking. I don't think I've turned out so bad, though. At the very least I have the benefit of knowing why I am conservative because I've had plenty of opportunities to really think about it.

I'll stop so that I don't take over your entire blog.

Joseph Keller Math 485 said...

Wow, Dad. I never knew you were so politically in tune. I agree that having the president come and talk to you would be a neat thing... I think the issue that people were concerned with was whether he would try and use political sway on the children. From what I have heard, however, he did not use any political innuendos and keep the speech focused on education and making goals. I do not support Obama or his ways of doing things... but I do think it is pretty neat that he decided to take the time and work with these children.

Darrel and Joanne Hammon said...

Hey, just call me "Mr. Politically In Tune....