Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not your cliche back-to-school speech

When I was preparing to listen to President Obama's back to school address, I was prepared to hear all about the future of math and science. I'm definitely a liberal arts sort of girl; I participate in music and theatre, and I get very annoyed very fast when adults stress the importance of math and science in today's society.

Not Obama.

In his speech, he spoke about the passions of students and how students need to figure out "what makes them come alive."
I absolutely loved that part of his speech, and it was an example of a pathos argument. It was obviously an effective one, because it stirred my emotions and my firm belief of the desire to follow dreams and make things happen.

This shows how effective of a speaker our President is.
Obama's audience for this speech is all of the students of America. He makes this clear when he references to the "peers across America" of the students who are listening to him directly. He speaks in third person, directly addressing all the students as "you." He also relates to the audience by speaking about his experience in school, namely his ethics class in eighth grade and how it helped him make tough decisions about America later in life. This is a very effective way to address and convey his message to the audience because it makes them feel connected and involved. From my perspective, that is a very important feeling to have because it provides the motivation to change the world. 

Obama also uses many different types of appeals in this argument. (SHOCKER :)) Many of these appeals that he uses are emotional, like the aforementioned one about finding the subjects that you love. These appeals are directed at American students to motivate them to go to school and be a success. The authority in these emotional appeals is definitely credible. President Obama, or any prior President of the United States for that matter, knows the inner workings, and the hidden problems, of this nation during the time in which they served their presidency. These Presidents, currently Obama, are the most reliable source dealing with events in America. This information is mostly implied.

Obama also uses factual evidence in order to provide background to his speech along with pathos appeals. One piece of factual evidence that stood out to me while I listened to Obama's speech was when he stated, "60% of jobs in the next decade will require more than a high school diploma." This is an effective logos appeal; it uses numbers to convey a surprising statistic to the audience. I believe that it was put into the address as a scare tactic. Subsequent to the statistic, Obama says, "That's the world you're walking into." I don't know about the rest of America's students, but listening to that sort of frightens me. It shows that the credentials are higher and that we, as students, need to work harder than any prior generation has to gain the positions and occupations that we desire to have for the future. That's scary. 
In short, the main purpose of Obama's speech is to motivate the students of America to be the best they can be and set the bar high for their success in school and in life. He does this using a variety of appeals, including logos and pathos appeals. In my opinion, Obama did an outstanding job of conveying this message to his audience. After all, he is the President :)

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