September 9, 2009

"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer."

"And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide."

That's my favorite part of Obama's speech to the school kids and not just because it's good for kids. It is a responsibility we all have to ourselves. Have you met it?

47 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

That is a very inspiring line. The answer is of course, not enough. But Obama did not think that up, it is one of the main themes of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead (and Ayn is not the first to come up with it either).

miller said...

Still on that pursuit of happiness, thanks to the freedoms explained in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

I'm thankful I live in a country where I don't have to be told what to do to achieve my best purpose, but that I can struggle to find out for myself.

Slow Joe said...

What's Obama good at? Winning an election?

G.D. America (it's in the bible)?

This was a decent little speech. I think it's great for kids, black boys in particular, to realize that they are not really hated by this country... that they have no reason to fear it anymore and if they work hard they can get somewhere.

I think that's the opposite of what these kids have been hearing from Al Sharpton or whoever the hell the hustler is these days, and Obama proved that a lie. The greatest responsibility in the world rests in Obama's hands, and basically no one cares that he's not white. Sure, his critics are called racist all the time, but it's superficial and no one believes it. Obama's true accomplishment is that he's shattered the lie that you need the government to fix race relations.

That and the benefits of private school and lots of money.

Original Mike said...

Have you met it?

Nah, it's too late.

Bender said...

"Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer."

Even those students who are conservative? Even those students who are Republican? Even those students who aspire to be doctors or bankers or corporate executives? Even those students who are named "Bush" or "Palin"?

Even those students who are someone else that Obama has repeatedly and constantly demonized?

What about those who are good at telling Obama and the rest of the government to leave them the hell alone?

traditionalguy said...

Obama says what we want to hear, but he will fight to the death(our children's) to rig the system so it does not happen. His teacher's Unions best friends refuse to put the little darlings to a real challenge, which would cause work for teachers and produce some winners and some losers. That is Taboo stuff, but that is the only key to each child learning something he/she is really good at.

BJM said...

Appalling grammar.

David said...

If Obama praised motherhood, there would be 20 comments here finding fault. The guy isn't wrong all the time, for Pete's sake.

garage mahal said...

Even those students who are named "Bush" or "Palin"?

This is what Obama was talking about. Bush and Palin never studied or found something they were good at.

I kid!

Slow Joe said...

I asked in a different thread on this blog if Harvard practiced race sensitive or race preferential grading. There's no way to know for sure, of course, and the evidence is hard to come by (comparisons to bar exam passage suggest the answer is yes, but that's weak evidence).

I can't recall the person's name, but he leaped to accuse me, in a very long screed, of being a racist. Because I ask one question and also say that URMs should try to find traditionally race neutral things, like tough clerkships, if they really want to prove themselves. That's what Obama seems to be getting at... challenge yourself on a level field and see what you are really gifted at.

But sadly, it's too late for a lot of folks. You can't even ask if AA is occurring without being racist, in the hearts of that 1/3 of dems who think Bush caused 9/11 and the CIA created AIDS or whatever.

I like Obama's message, but actions are the language I speak. Let's see if Obama wants to coddle us or lead us. Is his solution to health care to encourage huge profits and awesome new drugs for pharma? Or is it to make secret deals to cap profits and give free drugs?

traditionalguy said...

David...He said the right words, but talk requires acting the way you Claim that you believe, or at the least not acting the exact opposite way. Remember when a man tells you, "I am here from the government, and I am here to help you", usually that is not what he will do.

John Stodder said...

If anyone watches the HBO show "Hung," you'll recognize that a similar line (spoken to the main character by a self-help group leader) gets the plot rolling in the pilot.

I'm not saying that to diss Obama's speech, which I really liked. It's just a funny coincidence.

David said...

Slow Joe said...
"I asked in a different thread on this blog if Harvard practiced race sensitive or race preferential grading."

I believe they practice blind grading, which means that the person grading the work does not know the identity of the student being graded.

Bender said...

Remember when a man tells you, "I am here from the government, and I am here to help you", usually that is not what he will do.

Come on. Don't you know that when government tells you to turn around and bend over that it is doing you a favor? That it is benefiting you and you ought to be grateful for all they do for you?

Big Mike said...

Have you met it?

Yup. And then some.

Slow Joe said...

blind grading is between professor and student.

The university assigns a grade to a student on the basis of a curve. If there are going to be 2 A+s in a class, it gives those to the top 2 test scorers.

If there was race preferential grading, they might simply apply the curve to two groups, URMs and non URMS.

I don't mean to start a heated talk on it... I just think it's a shame that our education system has led to people shouting 'racist' when I asked the simple question. There's so much of that. Even simple questions are not 'PC'.

David said...

Tradguy--You are a hard case. I don't mean that as an insult, but I prefer to give the guy some credit when he says something right, even though I don't like many of his policies.

Slow Joe said...

I left a premise out. I believe most law professors simply rank their students's tests in order, and then give that to the school for issuing a grade. They can add in a note to deduct or add a +,-, etc for participation or special assignments.

The school then takes that and issues grades, and at that point, some speculate some chemistry occurs. I have no idea if this is the case, but given the way schools are so secretive about their AA admissions, it's hard to know for sure. There are hundreds of law schools, and I bet at least a couple indeed do this.

David said...

Slow Joe, curve grading is race blind on a comparative basis, it seems to me. Plus I have no idea if Harvard Law profs grade on a curve. Nor do you.

What the hell is a URM? Do you really think that at Harvard Law School they deliberately grade African Americans on a different standard?

I'm no fan of affirmative action. I think it's a crutch that hurts minorities in the long run. But you are hinting that Obama could not have made good grades without a preferential grading system. That's pretty harsh, given there is no evidence that this is the case.

I think the statistics show that African Americans as a group do less well than the general population in law school, and that they fail to graduate at a higher rate. This sad fact is due to inferior preparation, the cause of which is multifaceted, to be sure. But it does not follow from this that a particular individual needs preferential grading to score as a high achiever.

David said...

Slow Joe, do you teach at a law school? Do you work at one? Did you go to one? What is the basis of your suppositions about law school grading?

My basis is having gone to law school and having been hiring partner at a large law firm. We hired lots of African Americans and many have been great successes at the firm. Yes we hired some African Americans who were duds, but there were plenty of white duds too.

Skyler said...

This is no dig on B. Hussein, because the sentiment he expressed is widely held.

But the truth of the matter is that there is not "something you're good at." Being good at something, even if there is natural talent involved, is never a matter of just being or finding in oneself. You have to work hard to be good at things.

More importantly, you are often good at more than one thing if you work hard at each of them.

Some people are better than others, of course, but to say that there is some natural point or object that one excels at misses the point that it takes work and intelligent application of energy to be good at something. By intelligent, I don't mean you need to be a brainiac.

Additionally, there are many people that don't have any natural talents to the extent that they exceed that of others. They are called average people, and by definition most of us are in that category.

So the bromide being offered, by happenstance by a marxist that I can't stand by many others that I sometimes admire as well, is an evil teaching that only serves to discourage those that think there must be some secret ability hidden within them somewhere and don't apply work to create that ability.

This is the type of thinking that leads to nihilistic ideologies, such as Kerouac's and many others from the late 20th century.

MadisonMan said...

I think there is something that individual people are good at. Some one thing that they are better at doing than all else. But finding that thing, and practicing and refining your ability so that you really excel? That's a very tall order.

I might be the best ever poet in Mandarin Chinese. Best the world has ever known. Alas, I don't speak it, probably never will, so my genius will never be appreciated.

What if Michael Phelps had never got in a pool?

miller said...

And to be accurate, most people are mostly average in everything they do. Few people really excel in one or two things, and it's usually balanced by failure in other things.

I think of sports stars who beat their girl friends or even kill them, or movie stars that can't stay married or go bankrupt, and so on.

We can usually find something that "floats our boats," and the lucky ones among us find things that are legal.

WV: vical, the calories of the catechism

traditionalguy said...

My experience with teachers in school was that when they were hard cases, then I did discover that I had a talent here and there. The Proverb says that man sharpens man. That only happens when a competition is faced and survived. Otherwise it is just more Pixie Dust and sparkles of wishful thinking that we are all entiled to the same rewards.

Balfegor said...

What the hell is a URM?

I think it stands for "under-represented minority." It's a way of getting around the fact that some minorities (East Asians, Indians) outperform the population mean, on average, and as a result tend not to be eligible for affirmative action (I believe the race admissions program at issue in Bakke privileged Asians over Whites, but that would be unusual today). Sometimes people refer to NAM ("non-Asian minority") for the same reason.

Bissage said...

(1) THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer.

(2) [The scene is the bedroom of a teenage girl.]

SHERYL LYNN: Do you know how good you are doing it? Having sex? F*cking me? Making love to me?

DIRK DIGGLER: Everyone has one thing, you think? I mean, everyone's given one special thing, right?

SHERYL LYNN: That's right.

DIRK DIGGLER: Everyone's blessed with one special thing. I want you to know, I plan on being a star. A big, bright shining star. That's what I want. That's what I'm going to get.

SHERYL LYNN: I know.

-- “Boogie Nights” (1997)

ricpic said...

Government should be about keeping the peace and nothing else. We can inspire or disinspire ourselves thank you very much.

J. R. said...

Yeah, the kids have to "discover what that is", but we shouldn't expect them to do by next Tuesday.

These things take time. 10000 hours and then you are an expert, right?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Having long ago discovered what I'm good at and what I really enjoy ... will an Obama administration allow me to profit from that fortuitous overlap and enjoy the benefits of those profits?

If not me, then his statement to the students is utterly without meaning or substance.

MnMark said...

I'm tired of hearing the guy we elected - we hired - to manage the administrative branch of the federal government lecture me or any of us about our duties and responsibilities. To ourselves or to anyone else. Get over yourself, Obama! The sonorous, arrogant preaching has worn thin and we're only 8 months into it. Who does he think he is?

I'm also tired of hearing him refer to opposition to his policies as "game playing" and "bickering" as though he is Big Daddy who is admonishing unruly children. What a smug asshole. And this from a guy who has accomplished almost nothing in life except write his own hagiographies and run for office.

Chip Ahoy said...

I think school is the time and the place that can help students discover what areas it is possible to develop a passion, if they don't already have one or two or three automatically, thus the importance of extracurricular activities.

I understand the student that works hard pursuing a subject, invests much in it then decides at last it's not for them and goes on pursuing other things. Even if they're not naturally good at them, they can become good at them. That all makes perfect sense to me and I do not regard switching off as failure. On the contrary, the student has successfully eliminated dissatisfaction. I assume each individual possesses potential to be good at a lot of things, to be great at several things, and to be passionate about fewer things. Pursuing one's passion, or simply doing what one enjoys, is hardly work at all. The trick, if there's a trick to it, is in positioning yourself along established channels of cash flow, or creating new channels, if you're persistent. Take Rod Steward for example. How could you explain his success beyond anything but pure persistence? I mean, com'on, he was endowed with a voice suited for a translator in sign language.

This message is brought to you by Richard Bolles, best-selling author of What Color Is Your Parachute? who has always made more sense to me than any given present-day politician.

somefeller said...

Slow Joe says: I asked in a different thread on this blog if Harvard practiced race sensitive or race preferential grading...I can't recall the person's name, but he leaped to accuse me, in a very long screed, of being a racist.

I'm that huckleberry. If you want some light reading, you can find the thread here and judge for yourself.

But to recap, in that thread, Slow Joe said that (i) Obama wasn't in the top 10% of his class at HLS, (ii) Obama got on Law Review only because of affirmative action and (iii) minorities need to do more to prove themselves as being talented and competent because of affirmative action. After it was pointed out that (i) Obama graduated magna cum laude from HLS and therefore was in the top 10% of his class, (ii) Obama was elected President of the Law Review, so he obviously had the respect and support of his peers and did something right (incidentally, there's no proof Obama got on Law Review only because of affirmative action or even in part for that reason) and (iii) Slow Joe probably wasn't someone with the bona fides to make that judgment of minorities or anyone else, he then switched gears and implied that blacks get better grades as whites at HLS because of affirmative action.

At that point, yes, I called him a racist. This is because, in my experience, people who (i) denigrate the accomplishments of successful minority individuals, (ii) perform that denigration by making false or unprovable assertions about such accomplishments (the blacks are given better grades at HLS concept), (iii) claim that minorities have to do more to prove their qualifications against similarly-situated whites and (iv) bring up affirmative action and race all the time, including in conversations where that isn't the topic, are often racists. Slow Joe may not be the frothing at the mouth sort of bigot, but he sure sounds like someone you wouldn't want on the evaluation committee if you were black. Also, as you can see here, he makes his comments by cloaking with the "I'm just asking a question!" dodge, which makes him, in addition to everything else, a chickenshit. No surprise there.

Joe said...

That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Why assume that? There are many, many things people are good at that "an education" did squat at helping them discover. My career had nothing to do with "an education" other than that self-taught.

A correct phrasing would be: That’s an opportunity an education may provide.

somefeller said...

Back on topic after that tedious comment (as befitting of the topic), this post reminds me of a song.

Joe said...

Every single one of you has something to offer. After all, whitey needs to buy his drugs from somewhere and governors need companions.

Just Lurking said...

The third-grader who discovers he can make the best fart noises with his hands has a bright future ahead of him.

Cedarford said...

John Stodder said...
If anyone watches the HBO show "Hung," you'll recognize that a similar line (spoken to the main character by a self-help group leader) gets the plot rolling in the pilot.

I'm not saying that to diss Obama's speech, which I really liked. It's just a funny coincidence.


"Hung" is a darkly funny series on HBO. I confess when Obama said it I did think of the Thomas Jane character having the light bulb go off in his head when the "entrepreneur-motivator" challenged him to say what he was really good at and how he was denying himself in not getting wealthy from it.
(His big dick and ace fucker abilities..)

PS, the other day, the word verification on Blogger spit out series of random alphabet letters that formed a very dirty word I had to type in. "ucunt". Amusing.

rhhardin said...

Every single one of you has something you're good at.

Actually the theory of comparative advantage applies.

There's some job that you alone ought to be doing.

It's not necessarily the job that you're best at, or even good at.

It depends on what jobs everybody else ought to be doing as much as on what you're good at.

Economist example: the economics department chairman sends his secretary to deliver a packet of papers to the dean's office, even though the chairman's legs are longer and he walks a lot faster than the secretary; because his time is better spent doing whatever department chairmen do. More is gained sending the secretary.

What Obama ought to have said is find something you enjoy and to hell with efficiency.

rhhardin said...

I'm streaming John and Ken and suddenly Obama is on.

I hope they'll mock him properly when it's over.

rhhardin said...

Whenever Obama says "That's why.." he's lying.

Just a passing observation.

kentuckyliz said...

I know people who aspire to be "on the draw" as a living. Even children have this goal as reported by teacher friends.

Obama is their man!

Oligonicella said...

ricpic --

"Government should be about keeping the peace and nothing else. We can inspire or disinspire ourselves thank you very much."

Hear, hear. It is the height of pomposity to ask someone if they've met their responsibilities. Life will decide, thank you.

AllenS said...

Every single one of you has something you're good at.

My ability to turn beer into urine is noteworthy.

Largo said...

Some people can turn coffee into theorems.

rhhardin said...

Mathematicians turn napkins into theorems, not coffee.

Largo said...

hee hee. touche.

BlackBox said...

While Erdos was turning amphetamines into theorems, people thought it was coffee that got converted!