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How I’ll Use Part Of The President’s Kalamazoo Speech

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President Obama gave the commencement address today at Kalamazoo Central High School today.

It didn’t seem especially great (you can read the entire transcript here and see videos here and here), but there was a portion that I’ll be using in a lesson next year.

I’m planning a lesson on the problem of blaming others, and have written about it a couple of times already — see Creating A Lesson On “Blaming Others” & Need Your Help and Looking For Movie/TV Scenes Showing People Taking Personal Responsibility).

The President made some comments related to that topic that I’ll use as part of it:

That brings me to my second piece of advice, and it’s a very simple one: Don’t make excuses. Take responsibility not just for your successes, but for your failures as well.

The truth is, no matter how hard you work, you won’t necessarily ace every class or succeed in every job. There will be times when you screw up, when you hurt the people you love, when you stray from your most deeply held values.

And when that happens, it’s the easiest thing in the world to start looking around for someone to blame. Your professor was too hard; your boss was a jerk; the coach was playing favorites; your friend just didn’t understand.

Showing students this short video clip, and asking them to first think of times when they have blamed someone else for their mistake and, then, asking them to think of times when they’ve taken responsibility for them, might be a good piece to include in that lesson.

And, speaking of blaming others, here are two recent articles on this subject that I might have students read or, at least, use in my lesson plan:

How To Stop the Blame Game

Blame is Contagious, Except When People Have High Self-Worth

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

One Comment

  1. I think that is a great idea. I can probably learn from that too.

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