The White House has released the transcript of the speech the President will make to students today.
It seems fine — nothing earthshaking.
I think these passages might be useful a useful addition to a lesson I do on the importance of effort, as opposed to “natural” ability:
I know some of you may be skeptical about that. You may wonder if some people are just better at certain things. And it’s true that we each have our own gifts and talents we need to discover and nurture. But just because you’re not the best at something today doesn’t mean you can’t be tomorrow. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a math person or as a science person – you can still excel in those subjects if you’re willing to make the effort. And you may find out you have talents you’d never dreamed of.
You see, excelling in school or in life isn’t mainly about being smarter than everybody else. It’s about working harder than everybody else. Don’t avoid new challenges – seek them out, step out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help; your teachers and family are there to guide you. Don’t feel discouraged or give up if you don’t succeed at something – try it again, and learn from your mistakes. Don’t feel threatened if your friends are doing well; be proud of them, and see what lessons you can draw from what they’re doing right.
At some point, the teacher and social policy/social justice need to be factored into this discussion on “student effort”. It seems awfully trite to just say “try harder”.
Good point. I use it in the context of helping many of my struggling students to motivate themselves to persevere in developing their reading skills.
Yes – I’m certainly not denying that students need to put forth effort required and that some need to get serious about their education. But the administration has taken little to no action in dealing with critical issues such as poverty while at the same time encouraging further high-stakes forms of assessment that have a huge impact on teaching, often creating learning contexts that are even more decontextualized, irrelevant, and passionless for both the teacher and the student.
It is in this context that I think the “just work harder” message is somewhat trite.
I just read this post and think it has quite a bit of relevance to this whole issue. http://www.teachingscience20.com/2010/09/another-expert-weighs-in-on-education-reform/
When President Obama shares his own, honest experiences with the United States-I feel like he and I have things in common and I listen to what he has to say. I think this allows others to accept and welcome him as an approachable model to help guide one’s own path. He’s never been perfect, he had some good breaks and not so good breaks in his life, yet he was able to progress to the most respected position in America. He restores my hope that we are on the path to some more satisfying times if we press on.