Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

I've addressed school students, too

Like President Obama, I've spoken to students, too, though many fewer of them. Specifically, I spoke to a third-grade class in New Berlin, Wisconsin, when I was the editor of the local newspaper. One of the teachers invited local "celebrities" to come to the class to read a book out loud and talk to the students about the book, their work, and answer questions.

The book she had me read (I picked it up ahead of time and practiced) was a humorous fantasy about not wanting to get up in the morning. I met the class in the school library, sat in a comfy rocking chair, and read the book as dramatically as I could. The students laughed at the appropriate places.

When I was done, I explained how the book "worked": it took a simple idea and made it bigger and bigger until it became silly and funny. The students seemed enlightened.

Then they asked me about writing and about newspapers, and in particular, about the big news at the time, the first Iraq War, which had just started that week. Some of their questions had a political edge — not intentionally on their part; they were just repeating things that they'd heard. I answered calmly, factually, and without partisanship, as a responsible adult ought to in that kind of situation.

And this, I think, may be the problem that some people have with the President talking to students. They do not know how to be calm, factual, and non-partisan even when the circumstances require it. They don't know how to be responsible adults, so they can't imagine that anyone else can be one.

By the way, as far as I knew, no students needed permission to hear my talk, and no parents objected, even the ones who weren't subscribers.

— Sue Burke

Tags: political

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