Back to School – Barack Obama

Published: 2021-07-01 00:40:06
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Category: Barack Obama

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The text “back to school” is a speech held by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, in September 2009 at a school in Arlington, Virginia. The speech is about education and how important it is to this generation to have an education, if they want to succeed in the future. If everyone has some goals in life and a good education, it’s both good for the individuals, but also for the generation and the whole country. The intended audience of the speech is, of cause, the youngsters in the USA, because it’s them, who form the main part of the generation, who’s responsible for the future of the USA.
Barack Obama, who is the speaker of the text, is talking on the behalf of the country in the speech. His purpose with the speech is to encourage the young people to take an education and to be responsible for themselves and the country. His intention is also to persuade the young ones to give priority to education, by being a role model to them. He identifies with the young ones by telling about how it was through his own education and about all the good and bad things about it. The youngsters need to encourage themselves, because their parents and teachers are only a part of it, and the students need to do the main part themselves.
Obama addresses the audience, the youngsters, by using a lot of examples from his own life, or from other people, who has achieved their goals and a good education, in spite of challenges in their life and no support from their surroundings: “Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. ”1 Obama didn’t have a good and comfortable childhood. And it wasn’t easy for him to get an education and become the president of the USA.
Fortunately, he got a lot of chances, which helped him achieve his goals. He wrote his own destiny, which he wants the youngsters to do, even though the way to education won’t be easy. They have to fight for it. In Obama’s arguments he’s using pathos. First of all, because of the examples, which he uses, to show how difficult his childhood was, but that he even though became president. He’s trying to make the audience realize how difficult life can be. But also because he’s using the pronoun “we” a couple of times through the speech, for example in the following: “We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills
and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. ”2 In the quote he’s using “we”, which appeals to the feelings and also gives the audience a national feeling and a feeling of a country, which stands together, and a country, where no one is on their own. It perhaps affects the youngsters more to take an education, because the pressure is bigger, now that they know that the whole country expects them to keep the standards high in the USA henceforward. In the speech he’s focusing a lot on responsibility.
They need to take responsible for themselves. It’s a keyword in the speech, and is mentioned several times through the text. For example in the following: “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. ”3 In this quote Obama gives the youngsters a good reason for why they’re going to educate. It’s an opportunity to do what you’re good at, and work with what you love everyday in your life.
You can use your skills, to improve the society. Obama’s also making clear how important responsibility is, and the fact that they need to do most of the hard work themselves. If they want to do what they’re good at, they need an education, to make it happen. In the quote Obama is also using anaphors when he repeats “every single one of you has something.. “. By saying this he gives the youngsters a feeling of worth. On page 7 he uses repetition, where he repeats “I’ve talked” three times in a row in the beginning of the sentences.
It makes the language much more interesting to read, and to listen to. Beside the repetitions, Obama’s language is very personal and colloquial. It’s not formal at all, which is good, because the audience is youngsters, so it’s easy for them to understand. Obama is using a lot of contractions, for example “I’ve”, “aren’t” and “you’ve”, which supports the argument about that the language is colloquial. The language is personal because of, as mentioned earlier, the fact that he knows how it is to be in their place. For example he says: “I get it.
I know what that’s like” and “I know that feeling”. He also appeals to pathos when saying these things, which possibly persuades the youngsters more, because he can relate to them and identify with them. Generally, I think he reaches out to the audience a lot easier by using that kind of language. Already in the beginning, he knows how to catch the audience’s attention and how to address them. He’s starting the speech by saying: “Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? ” He shows his interest in them and also seems to be at the same wavelength as them.
The following quote also shows an example of that: “I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning. ” 4 It shows that Obama is very down-to-earth talking to the youngsters. Besides using pathos, he’s also using ethos in a way. First of all, he’s very reliable because of the fact that he’s the president of the USA. Ethos is also used when he argues by using his own experiences in life to show his purpose with the speech.
To hear this, many of the youngsters, who has some problems in life, probably get’s more motivated to get an education, now that they know everything is possible, with responsibility, willpower and a goal in life. Obama is laying a big pressure on their shoulders, but only because he knows how it’s like to be them. He wishes the best, not only for them, but also for the country and he wants them to fight and never give up: “The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best”. 5

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