Monday, September 21, 2009


This young man reminds me of what education means to this country.


Berrysmom said...

I can't even watch this. To me it reeks of some kid who has been coached by adults to say what they think he should say. There is nothing authentic about this. Every gesture and facial expressing -- especially the fake pauses -- have been choreographed to the nth degree.

Sorry, Kit, but I think this is just plain awful.

Berrysmom said...

I can't even watch this. It reeks of some kid having been coached by adults in what to say, how to say it -- every gesture, every facial expression. To me it says "fake, fake, fake."

Sorry, Kit, but I think this is exploitation.

ms. kitty said...

Oh, I don't. I've known kids who had this kind of presence and could do this quite authentically. He's a gifted actor, yes, and well-prepared, but I think it's very likely that it's a true presentation.

ms. kitty said...

I guess my 25 years in public school teaching and counseling have made this kind of performance believable to me.

Elz said...

Within seconds, I turned it off. "Believe" "Believe" "Believe" It pains me to say that, because my whole life I have suffered from not being believed in by an over-critical over-educated family. In the end, though, training and deep education are two different things. My family gave out deep education with every conversation, every athletic effort, every arts event, even every menu planning.

I do take one point from this video, though -- racism is still real in many lives. Duh. Now I would like to see such a video of some kinesthetic learners -- currently frozen out of the over-verbal educational system -- and some emotional learners -- currently kept off the pay ladders.

Miss Kitty said...

I enjoyed the video, and wanted to reach out and hug Dalton Sherman.

However, friends:
Let's keep in mind that our young speaker is **just in elementary school**...and this is just about what elementary school kids are like when they give speeches. They've just not lived, or performed, or given speeches long enough to get as "un-coached" as you and I might be onstage. My speeches were like this when I was in grade school. It takes a looooong time to get good at it.

Secondly--how many of us have ever spoken in front of 20,000 people? The largest audience I've ever had was just over 1,500 people...and it SCARED. ME. SHITLESS. And I was 30 years old at the time! :-) Trust me, folks--when you get up there and it strikes you how many people there are watching you, you may well experience some problems with your well-memorized and full-of-emotion speech. I say this because I've been there. I applaud this young man for "feeling the fear and doing it anyway," as Susan Jeffers wrote.

I'm simply asking everyone to keep these things in mind. Perhaps we could really level some well-founded performance criticisms were this young man further along in school and public speaking class, but it's simply not fair to do so when he's this young.

What if this is the first time he's EVER spoken in public? (Heckuva big task to put on a school-age kid, but adults ask crazy crap of kids all the time, without thinking back to what that might have been like for them at the same age.) And what if he's dealing with a speech problem such as stuttering, or a learning disability? These things might also contribute to what we're seeing as "fakeness" in his performance. I stuttered BADLY as a child, and when I reeeeeally tried to control it, I sounded a little like this young man. He's NOT a child star...he's an average kid who's not in front of crowds & cameras all the time. (Ignore the child stars you see on TV and in the movies. They are the exceptions that confirm the rule.)

My last note: This month marks 12 years since I entered the classroom, and you know what? I am STILL nervous every time I get up to teach. :-)

ms. kitty said...

Actually, the video is about the message, not the kid, but all your comments are cogent. We don't want to exploit kids but we do benefit from their wisdom and their potential, especially when the message is a good one.

Our personal experiences color our responses, and this is a normal thing. This young man's experience will shape the rest of his life, I suspect, and I hope his gifts are a blessing to him and to others.

If you google him, you can get a sense of how meaningful this has been to a number of people. And let me tell you firsthand, kids need us to believe in them. Far too many educators write kids off based on classroom impressions, not understanding the many strands of life that have shaped their behavior.