I read the text of Pres. Obama's speech to the schoolkids yesterday, and since I haven't read that he changed anything up, I suppose this is what he said.
In pursuit of political moderation of the type I strive for, and knowing my biases, when I read this I allowed the voice of President Bush to read it to me in my head, to see if anything stuck out as being really out-of-place. I meant for it to be W's voice but as I go back over it I believe it's George H. W. Bush I hear.
The part about the father abandoning the family was a little jarring, of course, and Obama's voice slipped in there but we got past that. For the rest, the only things I really noticed were a kind of lecturing tone I don't remember from either Bush, and the fact that the speech went on a little. People, especially kids, listen more if you talk less, I've found. Other than that, it seemed like a fine speech to me. If he makes a yearly tradition of this, I suppose it will not continue to draw the kind of negative attention it got this year.
Thinking about squirmy kids being expected to listen to a 15-minute speech made me think of this article: Don't Alienate Your Professor.
During class, do not: a) beat out a cadence on your desk while the teacher is lecturing; b) sigh audibly more than three or four times during a class period; c) check your watch more than twice during the hour.
Fewer families attend church every Sunday nowadays than in years past, and of those that do, children through their elementary school years get hustled off to children's church. So there isn't really a venue for them to sit by their mother and be trained to be still and not fidget when the adults are talking. Last spring at my MIL's funeral F sat between me and her six-year-old cousin Sarah. About midway of the service Sarah began to twist around in her seat. F reached over and put her hand on Sarah's leg and she straightened up and got still. (I told her later what a big girl she had been and that I was proud of her.) The thing is that Sarah's mother, my SIL, had explained to her how people act during such events, so she knew what was expected of her. I have to wonder how many college students who don't know not to beat out cadences or sigh loudly never had the opportunity, as little kids, to be made to sit still and behave.