September 8, 2009

Leadership Education

"And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself."
-- President Barack Obama

The president's speech was beautiful, and I'll tell you why. I have spent hours saying many of those things to my own children.

Just this morning I had to break the bad news that we were going to miss park day because Funny Girl was sick. She isn't so sick that she couldn't play a little, but she's probably contagious and running a fever. Robotson was blaming the cold for making his sister sick, but I explained that a lot could be avoided with good hygiene and not going out when sick. So when he heard President Obama say this:

Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
He looked over at me like maybe I was on to something. That was just the beginning.
Robotson's mouth literally fell open when he heard this:
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
How many times I've said these things to him. Robotson is a struggling perfectionist. I've said before he's totally stuck in a fixed mindset. It's not self-esteem. There is a difference. He thinks he is limited in his abilities and if he fails, then he must not be able to try again.
He was also particularly moved by this:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
The president asks for help? Really? It was like a whole new world opened up for him when he heard that.
Robotson was also amazed to hear that Obama grew up without a father, that J.K. Rowling failed 12 times, and that he even knew was Google was! Little things that I know from things I've read, but they were revelations for Robotson. His last question to me was, "Why did the President say "God bless America? Why did he mention God?"
He spent the next hour telling me all about the things he picked up from the speech. President Obama has a growth mindset. Asking for help is strong. How did he know how much Robotson likes to watch t.v.!? After pondering everything for a while he came over and told me I was the best mom and teacher he'd ever had. Then he told me he was ready to get to work.
Thank you Mr. President. I am very glad you took the time to speak to us this afternoon. It meant a lot to both of us.


  1. It is so funny when children hear "it" from another adult - whatever we have been saying - and then take it to heart.

    My son watched roughly half the speech and seemed to actually pay attention. What the President said was wonderful, and I hope it sticks with all of us.

  2. President's speech was beautiful!! I am glad your son got something out of it as well. I was so upset though when my daughters school called and left a message that if you want your children not to listen to the speech let the office know. Why? We didn't get a call when our previous president made a speech about education? I hope my daughter comes back to Homeschooling soon. I can't take it any more.

  3. We watched it with our kids too (okay, the two year old mostly jumped off chairs, but the rest of them!). It was a great speech and I hope most of our nation's kids got to hear it. It was very inspirational!

  4. I loved the outcome for Robotson. Isn't it great to be called the best teacher? I hope I will always be that for my daughter.

  5. Nilu- thanks for stopping by! Fingers crossed for your daughter.

    Raising a Happy Child-It was great. :)

    A Magical Childhood- I agree. I hope parents took the time to watch it and then showed their kids later. What a shame to miss such a great message because of politics.

    Wendy-To Robotson, there may be no one else cooler than the President. It was a great moment :)