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Essay About Barack Obama Speech

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Essay about Barack Obama’s speech “Back to School”

Why is education such an important thing in our lives’? We are always told that education is the most important thing for our society. Education gives people the skills and tools they need to navigate in the world. But how do you explain this to kids and youngsters? Barack Obama tries to explain the importance of education in his speech “Back to School” in 2009.

      Going through an education can be hard, and it requires hard work and discipline, and this are some of the values Barack Obama speaks about in his speech.

On the 8th September 2009 President Barack Obama gave a speech at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. In his speech he talked about the importance of getting an education and what responsibilities students have.

Obama starts off his speech by addressing his audience. The audience is students from both high school, middle school and kindergarten, and Obama starts off saying he understands that some of the kids are nervous because of the first day of school. “And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous” (page 7, line 4-6). In this quote, you can see that Obama is talking directly to the audience, by using the pronouns you and you’re.

     Obama has to adjust his language to the audience. He does this by using understandable language, that doesn’t contain a lot of formal terms, that normally would be expected in a speech by the president.

     In the speech Obama also mentions J.K Rowling and Michael Jordan. He tells the students how they have struggled during their careers (page 10, line 126-130). When he mentions these celebrities, that are role models to a lot of children, he tries to gain their interest and get them to know that you have got to work hard to achieve what you want.

In rhetoric there is a classic way of building up a speech, which a lot of speakers use. Obama is using this simple way in his speech.

     The opening of the speech starts with Obama saying hello, and then starts talking about the first day of school, and how it’s okay to be nervous. Then the narrative comes, which in this case is the background information about Obama’s experiences as a student. After the background information the argumentation comes. Here Obama focusses on the responsibility and opportunities students have.

    Normally there would be a flashback after the argumentation, but this part isn’t present in the speech. The reason why Obama decides not to have a flashback may be that he thought he would lose the students’ focus, if he started talking about American history.  In the end of the speech Obama tells the students the things he expects from them. This way of building up a speech, makes it easy to understand, which is really important when the audience are children.

In the speech Obama tells the students that he relates to the fact that it can be stressful to go to school. “my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the Americans’ kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning” (page 7, line 11-13) Here Obama tells the students that he spent a lot of his time as a kid on his education. When Barack Obama is telling this personal story, he is using the appeal form ethos. Obama tries to seem trustworthy, as he explains that he has gone through the same things as they are going through. He wants the students to know that he understands them, and that he knows what he is talking about.

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