PoliticsSkepticism

President Obama's Address to Schoolchildren

If you were in school today, you probably watched President Obama give the speech he had scheduled on why academics is important. Because my school schedules the passing periods at non-well-rounded-times, I missed the speech because I was walking to class. Now, instead of doing my physics homework I’m stumbling around YouTube trying to find the speech to motivate me to get going on my homework. I haven’t found it yet, but I found this video which I thought was simply too hilarious to not post.

Let’s critically think about this whole thing ourselves (even though I’ve already biased you by posting this here, but think of overcoming the bias as a challenge)

Regarding the video: Is it fair to say that motivating a student to become better educated leads them to register as Democrats like the video insinuated? Is this too much of a strawman of the outrage from the conservatives or is it an accurate portrayal of why they were concerned about the speech? Is using Hitler too extreme to make the point or is it a fair use of comedy?

Regarding the speech, for those of you who have seen it: Did Obama’s speech really have any substance? Did he slip liberal/socialist biases in? And, for a far broader question, does going through the public education system as Obama encourages really do anything to improve critical thinking?

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7 Comments

  1. September 8, 2009 at 10:02 pm —

    Heh. I did find it by going to whitehouse.gov. Whould’ve thunkit?

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/A-Message-of-Hope-and-Responsibility-for-Americas-Students/

  2. DataJack
    September 9, 2009 at 10:32 am —

    The Prez has a weekly address at that site, too. It is posted every Saturday, and is usually quite interesting.

    As to your questions: I don’t think the public education system improves critical thinking, but I do think kids (and adults) can get more from any education if they have good critical thinking skills. Where they get them from is another story.

    And I do think it is outrageous and unpatriotic to compare Obama to Hitler.

    Finally, I find it amusing that the right-wingers in this country have to make up things about Obama to frighten themselves with, because he refuses to do anything that is actually frightening.

  3. September 9, 2009 at 10:56 am —

    Obviously the whole “controversy” about the President addressing kids in school was a conspiracy by the Democrats.

    If they didn’t see adults raising such a fuss and making the speech “forbidden fruit”, most kids would have slept through it like normal.

  4. September 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm —

    I think the insinuation about educated students registering as Democrats is fair, at least speaking about contemporary trends. The Republican party and Republican candidates derided the “intellectual elite” so much during the last election process that I think they too would agree that educated people end up Democrats. Education is not something they (claim to) value. If students who receive a good education and go on to college end up disproportionately Democrats, I don’t think that means that education is brainwashing our children (or at least, that on its own is certainly not evidence supporting such an accusation). The most reasonable conclusion would be that being a Democrat is the smarter, more rational choice.

    I’ve heard similar scare tactics used by conservative Christians — don’t send your kid to college, they’ll lose their religion! Those educated ivory tower elites are trying to brainwash your kids to be atheist! Um, no… but if it just so happens that as soon as your children are allowed to think for themselves, they reject the theology you forced upon them as impressionable toddlers, doesn’t that say something negative about your religion (rather than something negative about education)?

  5. FFFearlesss
    September 10, 2009 at 10:07 am —

    You’d think the conservatives among us would have learned their lessons from history by now. The instant you tell a kid that they’re not allowed to watch/read/listen to something, you pretty much gaurantee that they are going to find a way to do just that.

    And really, hasn’t ANYBODY learned that invoking the name of Hitler in a debate that isn’t specifically, ya know, ABOUT HITLER pretty much kills your argument right there.

    I really do try to play both sides of the political coin. I think that both sides are prone to mob mentality, especially when they don’t get their way. But the batsh** crazy of Republican protesters over the past two months is getting downright scary. Mostly because it’s not relegated to the few crazies and extremists. People who are my friends who prior to now have been fairly intelligent rational people have bought into the socialist/Nazi hysteria and are parroting it.

    Obama hasn’t even been in office for a year and the hysteria is already at a fever pitch. I’m simultaneously afraid and fascinated to see what the next 3 years brings about. Like a Howard Stern hater, I continue to watch, “Just to see what they’re going to say next.”

  6. September 10, 2009 at 1:07 pm —

    Being more educated certainly doesn’t guarantee that one will register democrat. But evidence suggests that better educated people tend to lean liberal. As for why the conservatives don’t want Obama’s speech heard, I think it is more about them being always right, the other side being always wrong. Although I agree that a vast portion of the population don’t appreciate a good education as much as they should. Indeed, it seems the more far out one is in ideology, the more they are likely to shun education. As for using that Hitler footage for the satire, I think that in that context, they aren’t trying to compare the conservatives to Hitler. It seems more like an attempt to make the lunatic fringe seem like anti intellectual more than anything else. Many other satires have used that same footage. I might be wrong, though. I think it depends on the motivation of the satirist.

  7. exarch
    September 18, 2009 at 10:14 am —

    Everyone and their moms has been using this particular Hitler clip to make satirical YouTube videos. It’s just on the verge of the viral treshold …

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