For those of you who are living in the "dens and caves of the earth," the President made a speech today addressing schoolchildren everywhere. Here is the whole thing in three quick soundbites:
"At the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher or cutting class or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying."
"The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute, and you won't necessarily succeed in everything the first time you try it. That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who have had the most failures."
"If you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker; it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid; it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one's born being good at all things; you become good at things through hard work."
THAT'S what I'm talkin' about. No excuses. This was the most parent-like speech I've ever heard him give, and I mean it in a good way. Yes, there were a lot of cliches, but we've been awfully heavy on cliches from the other side (You're Perfect Just the Way You Are and other taglines of complacency) for a long time. It's good to hear someone advocate for hard work and struggle.
It's almost hard to believe that there were parents out there (lots of them; many of them at our school) who wanted permission for their kids to AVOID watching this address. No, please, whatever you do, don't let my children listen to the President! They might learn something about bipartisanship or self-sacrifice! Yikes.
My only criticism was political: I thought he was about to mention the Suzuki Triangle (teacher, parent, student) but he stretched it into a quadrilateral with the addition of the government as a fourth corner. I definitely don't agree with this, but I am a recovering Republican, and it was only for a moment that I rolled my eyes before continuing to listen to and enjoy what was overwhelmingly a positive and (dare I say it?) conservative set of remarks.
Score one for tough teachers everywhere!