Monday, June 22, 2020

Teachable Moment: Raising the Rhetoric

JFK 1961
Eloquence. Higher level thinking. Rational open discussion. American rhetoric--let's remind ourselves of the brilliant heights of thought our fellow citizens have given us. These profound thoughts were articulated to we the people, the common folk, the general populace. Dare I say, the 'undereducated,' as well as the 'intelligensia.' We the people listened, considered, and thought about these ideas.

American Rhetoric's Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century 
highlights a diversity of speakers. Brilliant passion, complicated sentence structure, even three or four syllable words! As a student growing up in the 1960s, I was exposed to tremendous higher level thinking, free discussion, complicated language. Let's refuse to be dumbed down! We have access to fantastic thought and passion. The website has hundreds and hundreds of speeches.

Are you prepared to let students browse through this amazing collection of ideas? Here are some interesting choices-- hopefully a fair and diverse group. (And don't forget Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Adlai Stevenson, and even Richard Nixon.)

 Ronald Reagan Remarks at the Brandenburg Gate

Theodore Roosevelt The Man with the Muck-rake  1908

Elie Wiesel The Perils of Indifference 

Barbara Pierce Bush Commencement Address at Wellesley College

Hillary Rodham Clinton 

Remarks to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women Plenary Session 

 And two of my favorites:

John F. Kennedy

Address at Rice University on the Nation's Space Program

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I Have a Dream

Cannot hear this speech too often.

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