Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Motivating "Back to School" Speech by Michelle Obama


Speaking at a London girls' school, Michelle Obama makes a passionate, personal case for each student to take education seriously. It is this new, brilliant generation, she says, that will close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it should be.

April, 2009

39 comments:

Ella Smith said...

Very nice. I needed this to go back to school.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Wonderful - I sent the link to my kids so they could view.

You know it's almost that time for a new school year - registration forms came in the mail yesterday.

Gee, where did the summer go?

Rick Callihan said...

The Obama kids will attend private school ( Sidwell Friends School ) for the record.

Anonymous said...

This should should be broadcast throughout the county, state.... etc. Used instead of busing teachers to an opening day assembly! It's really great!

Cerebration said...

As an aside, this website, TED.com is amazing. There are so many interesting talks to listen to as well as the latest in science, entertainment and technology.

I thought of this site while reading Maureen Downey's column in the AJC the other day called Lose the tedium in class

She says that Southern Methodist University's president is asking teachers to "teach naked" by shedding computers, tedious Powerpoints and long-winded lectures. He suggests emailing information and lectures by highly gifted speakers to students to review before class. Then to spend class time discussing what they learned. It's been proven that students learn better this way because they generally watch the lecture more than once, and then the discussion builds on what they learned from viewing.

I think it's pretty interesting. I think Jose is right - students are bored by lecture-style classroom settings. Teachers need to use technology to boost their ability to teach, not to actually teach.

Anonymous said...

This one goes much much deeper. Something to keep in mind while we teach for the tests.
http://www.mobilelearninginstitute.org/21stcenturyeducation/films/film-yong-zhao.html

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration, I do not know many teachers who are allowed to only lecture anymore. Statistics do show that this is a horrible way to teach. Students learn a great deal more by teaching each other, reading, and student interaction with the teacher.

I hope we do not have teachers in the Dekalb County School System who just lecture all the time. I hope Dekalb County School administration make sure this is not happening.

Cerebration said...

I actually think the study was talking about college lectures, but I think high school students would learn a lot from viewing some of the amazing resources available on the internet and then discussing them in class...

Cerebration said...

That is a fantastic video, anonymous! I like his comment that he was "lucky" that he didn't get a standard "Chinese" education. He says we're raising a generation of "left=brained" thinkers (low-level workers...) And he is against nationalized and global education! Apparently, China is getting away from a standardized education and moving toward a "Localized" more individualized education.

How radical!

I'd embed this video if I could.... Can you grab it John?

Anonymous said...

I'm overjoyed that you liked it Cerebration. I'd love to see it posted everywhere. Doing my part. : )

Anonymous said...

Obama's girls go to a very expensive private school. Why do politicians feel that they can make comment about how important school teachers, and public school teachers especially, and send their children to private schools. If public school teachers are all that, than why aren't their children attending a public school?

Give me a break. This is just another way to get public school teachers and their unions to vote for them.

Cerebration said...

Well - there's that. But her message was inspiring. And I suppose it would be very difficult and maybe dangerous for their girls to attend public school.

Did they attend public school in Chicago? Anyone know?

Anonymous said...

"Obama's girls go to a very expensive private school. Why do politicians feel that they can make comment about how important school teachers, and public school teachers especially, and send their children to private schools."

C'mon now. My good friend in the Secret Service said the SS pretty much demanded the Obama girls attend this school, where children of all the major dignataries attend. It's all about trying to provide the best safety possible, not just for the Obama girls, but the other students as well.

Square Peg said...

The Obama girls were not in public school in Chicago. They went to the University of Chicago Lab School, which is a very highly regarded private school.

No Duh said...

Excuse me, but aren't there people on this blog who took their children out of public schools (either to home school or put in private) who are still advocating for public schools and hoping they can succeed? Why can't the Obamas do that, too?

If I were Michelle Obama, I'd be so fearful for my children's safety in this sicko society that I'd probably have the girls home schooled!

Remember, there still is not equity in public schools. And they have evolved significantly -- for the worse IMO -- since we (me, Barack, Michelle and some of you) went to public school. I would bet that the Obamas when Malia was 5-years-old researched all the public "choices" they had, and found all of them lacking. With the financial resources available to them, they took the only choice they had.

Now, if ALL parents in the Obamas' Chicago/Washington D.C. neighborhood(s) cared as much as the Obamas obviously do about the quality of THEIR children's education, there would be plenty of quality choices for everyone.

That said, if I were POTUS, I'd put my children in the safest place possible -- politics be damned.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

Politics aside -- if the Obamas could reach out and convince all students of all backgrounds that the key to their success lay in getting their education and in taking control over their own lives and educations, without any regard for the wealth, status or background of their parents or grandparents, he (they) would have a major success under his (their) belt as President (and First Lady) IMO.

Anonymous said...

Nope--
politicians have no cred on public school matters if their kids have never been there--and they, as parents haven't been there.

OK you say--but they have advisors and staff and...
none of 'em have kids in privates schools unless they are magnets (maybe)...
no cred on neighborhood schools.

Ken Thompson said...

``people on this blog who took their children out of public schools''

yep.

``advocating for public schools and hoping they can succeed''

not so much.

``researched all the public "choices" they had, and found all of them lacking...they took the only choice they had.''

ding ding ding

we have a new winner. those who can do. those who can't have children taking the CRCT

Molly said...

Nope--
politicians have no cred on public school matters if their kids have never been there--and they, as parents haven't been there.


Just like male obstetricians clearly are incapable of caring for pregnant women because they haven't "been there." Any cardiologist who hasn't suffered a heart attack clearly has "no cred." A pediatrician without children of his/her own obviously is unqualified to diagnose strep throat.

One does not have to send ones own children to a public school to recognize the enormous problems that exist. My own child does not need to be a drop out for me to be concerned about our dismal graduation rates.

Cerebration said...

Even though I personally liked Michelle's speech and thought she delivered an important message (she was speaking to young girls and their power to change the world as it's been proven that societies with educated women do much better overall), there is another side to this "postive" public school rhetoric.

Again, it comes from the "School Matters" blog. And it's something to think about - the idea that the key to success in poor and inner-city schools is to just "think positive" (head in the sand in their opinion) and somehow instill "middle class values"... the whole psyche comes to schools from the corporate culture and allows those with the power to avoid seeking real solutions to real problems by insisting that it's just an attitude problem.

http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2009/07/negative-truth-about-positive.html

. . . . The driving ideology of corporate culture is a blind faith in the power and virtue of the corporate collective. All quotas can be met. All things are possible. Profits can always be raised. It is only a question of the right attitude. The highest form of personal happiness, we are told, is when the corporation thrives. Corporate retreats are built around this idea of merging the self with the corporate collective. They often have the feel of a religious revival. They are designed to whip up emotions. Office managers and sales staffs are given inspirational talks by sports stars, retired military commanders, billionaires and self-help specialists like Tony Robbins who tell them, in essence, the impossible is always possible. And when this proves not to be true it is we who are the problem. We simply have to try harder.

I don't think Michelle is in denial of the needs in these communities. She wasn't addressing that audience. I wonder what she would say if she was addressing say, an inner-city L.A. public high school...

Anonymous said...

"in the land of happy thoughts.."

Thanks for pointing to that blog post Cerebration.
This stuff is so much more inspiring to me than the typical back to school fair. I know by the middle of the year I'll be scrambling back towards cramming in all they need to know for a test, but reading that and watching the video by Yong Zhao is nice kick start to the year. For a time, until the inevitable testing panic sets in, I'll be able to look at each child without seeing them as one of the smart ones or...not.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I think that Michelle Obama ia a product of Chicago public schools. Judge Glenda Hatchett is a product of the segregated Atlanta school system in place in the 1960s. Both of them are examples of what a loving and supportive home can bring to the table even when the schools being attended are less than desireable and leave a lot of room for critisism in the race relations department. They both have Ivy league success stories, as a result of laws that required towers to open their doors wider to women and minorites, that enabled them to go to Ivy League and 7 Sister undergraduate programs and to top law schools. They both had to work their way through the segregated systems they inherited by birth to get there. What I've seen of Judge Hatchett is very impressive -- she came from the projects wihtout a chip on her shoulder and became corporate counsel at Delta, a juvenile Court judge and now has a TV show. Most of this came through hard work and her own efforts. The foundation was planted by loving parents (conclusions drawn by 2 speeches I've heard her make). It wasn't easy for her. I have a sense that Michelle Obama's story, shared a bit in this video isn't that dissimilar. I think a lot can be learned by a lot of children through their stories. (Even Bill Cosby has a story along these lines to share....)

Square Peg said...

The Wikipedia article on Michelle Obama talks about her school experience, and seems credible. "She and her brother, Craig (who is 21 months older), skipped the second grade. By sixth grade, Michelle joined a gifted class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School (later renamed Bouchet Academy). She attended Whitney Young High School, Chicago's first magnet high school, where she was on the honor roll four years, took advanced placement classes, was a member of the National Honor Society and served as student council treasurer. The round trip commute from her South Side home to the Near West Side took three hours." (Must have been very hard on her!)

I wonder how many other bright and motivated students there are who could benefit from more openness to acceleration, more gifted classes, and more magnet school opportunities than are currently available in our public school systems.

Don't know what it was like 30 years ago, but now it is very hard to get into Whitney Young. "More than 9,000 students applied for the 450 spots in the 2007-2008 freshman class," according to Wikipedia.

President Obama attended Punahou, a private school.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I don't know how many of you actually really scrutinized the "public elite" list printed by Newsweek. The blog spent a lot of time focused on Lakeside and other DCSS schools that made and didn't make the list. What was most notable to me was that most of the "public elites" were in the northeast. They are what Chamblee should be -- schools for the very gifted, that have entrance based soely on merit for the very smart kids who need that challenge. Chamblee and Lakeside were hundreds of spots below these "public elite" schools. The closest one to us in Atlanta was in the Carolinas and the next closest one was in the DC area (going by memory here). The kids in these schools are going to be leading us, operating on us, and providing for us in the future. We need a place for these kids in Atlanta that is based on merit -- top x number of kids competing for those spots on merit -- not on anytyhing else, with teachers prepared to take them to college in 9th grade if that's where they belong (and no, I don't think any of my kids would qualify for such a program).

Cerebration said...

I have to say again, I put very little emphasis on the Newsweek Challenge list (the list they claim to be the top high schools in the U.S.) The methodology is far too simplistic - they simply take the number of AP tests taken at an entire school and divide that number by the number of seniors.

This only tells us which schools are encouraging students to take AP classes - and even then, the numbers are skewed when you have a school like Lakeside, where class size dwindles every year leaving 300 or less seniors.

No - if you want to evaluate a school, you must visit there, speak to teachers, (check out their morale), students and parents and look at the overall class offerings, discipline and order in the building, the sense of pride in the facilities and the graduation (success!) rate.

And then, think about if your child would fit in there.

Cerebration said...

Sadly, in DeKalb, regardless of how much they tout "choice" - there is very little actual choice. I pleaded for a transfer for my son and was told "don't hold your breath". In that case, the only choice is to go private or homeschool.

Anonymous said...

The methodology is far too simplistic - they simply take the number of AP tests taken at an entire school and divide that number by the number of seniors.

And with DSA only have 47 seniors you can easily see how they were the "top" in Dekalb - even though DSA does not offer near the number of AP courses as other schools.

Shayna Steinfeld said...

I agree that the methodology is very off in the Newsweek report. The point of my recent post is that there are some excellent high schols that they do discuss and don't list, called "public elites" (because they are too good) (the one I've always been familiar with is Bronx Science, which sounds alot like the school Michelle Obama went to), one of my points is that we need a school like that here -- we don't offer anything like these "public elites" in Altanta -- we pretend to with Chamblee but we don't. The only options for the very gifted kids is to go private or to be bored.

Cerebration said...

Right on, Shayna. We don't even put a decent amount of money into maintaining the building at Chamblee (much less build them an auditorium for their many gifted musicians) - so why would we actually put money into making it a pure, high-achieving, nationally recognized high school?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I do not think anyone sees Chamblee as an "elite" program. The school just happens to have a magnet program which basically runs separately from the "resident" program with the exception that they have the same principal. At one time the test scores were reported as separate items, but the resident scores were so poor, it was decided that the scores for both programs were to be combined so as not to reflect poorly on the resident students.

Dr. Lewis is on record as saying he is concerned about the students in the resident program at Chamblee as they do not seem to get the same "attention" as the magnet students.

Cerebration said...

Hmm - Dr. Lewis is "concerned" about non-magnet students at Chamblee. Let's see if he says that about Arabia. Let's see if he says anything about SW DeKalb - which as far as I'm aware, only serves magnet students in comparison to say, Towers, MLK or Stephenson. Either Arabia or SWD could also become one of the "elite" schools the Newsweek article talks about (and doesn't include in the rankings...)

Chamblee may have inequities within their building - but it's only a microcosm of the system at large. Dr. Lewis should be concerned about the inequities among all of our schools in the entire system! It's just safe for him to exhibit concerns at Chamblee... other concerns would reflect badly on him and the BOE.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Which brings me to another question. Dekalb School of the Arts is moving to Avondale HS. Why the need for 2 principals? Seems to me that DCSS could save money by having one principal overseeing both. Just curiosity more than anything.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Cere, I agree with your thoughts about Arabia. I really do believe DCSS wants Arabia to become an "elite" school. Otherwise why designate a brand new school as a magnet school? BTW, has anyone looked at the uniform requirements for Arabia? Can you say "private school"?

Cerebration said...

I completely agree on the DSA issue - they do not need 2 sets of administrators for these schools - DSA only has 285 students! Avondale only has about 700! Puhleeze!! Why spend $$$ on extra principals, AP's, etc, when we are asking teachers forgo retirement savings?!! Talk about "elite"...

andi said...

Their uniform is more strict than Champion Middle. Everything has a monogram or logo like private schools.

Cerebration said...

yeah, and the pushing and shoving to get into this school is getting out of hand! (Not! - can't wait to get their actual enrollment numbers -- unfortunately - enrollment numbers are currently unavailable due to a computer issue at the county level -- how convenient! They know we are waiting for those numbers!)

Anonymous said...

I agree with the comments that DCSS should position Arabia Mtn. to become an "elite" public magnet school. My concern is that the magnet program is so tiny- they are establishing too few spots. Most of the school is simply a "choice" school which, well could mean lots of things.

I don't know if the strategy for Arabia Mtn. is to start slow and small and build the magnet program or they don't have enough teachers or not enough high quality applicants.

But to be fair to the over crowded high schools in DCSS, Arabia Mtn really needs to utilize all that beautiful space and DCSS shold re-district more students to the non-magnet portions of the school.

Cerebration said...

Which was their original reason for insisting they needed to build the school in the first place! But alas - it's now such a jewel that only the very special will get a seat.

Can't wait to get those numbers!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Entrace into this school is by "application" only. Call me a cynic, but I'll bet you a "C" student or a student with low tests scores does not get into this school.