We all know that education is something children, teenagers and young adults have to consider as a serious matter in life. The importance of education has grown over the years. My father never finished high school, but somehow he has still managed to provide for his family. I doubt that students who set high goals for themselves would even consider dropping out of high school. Times have changed, therefore it is difficult to climb the ladder of success without a proper education.
In the speech ‘Back to School’ Barack Obama talks to students in Philadelphia about the importance of a proper education. He starts out by greeting the principle, the teachers and the students. After this Obama talks about his time as a student, and letting people know that he wasn’t perfect either. This comforts whoever heard or read the speech because it tells us that even the most important man in the world had his own struggles in school. By saying this Obama motivates the students of America, by letting them know that nothing is impossible. Then comes his argumentation, where he talks about how he knows the difficulties of school, but at the same time he says that it is the students responsibility to work hard in school in order to continually improve their academic skillset. This is a necessity because the children are the future of America. His argumentation and conclusion speaks of the same matter. He concludes his speech by summing up his argumentation, but makes the message shorter and easier to understand, which is understandable since the speech is appealing to children.
He constantly speaks of the necessity of an education. Obama makes it very clear that it is not only businessmen and the scientists who need education. He states that in almost every line of work an education is needed whether if it’s military or a schoolteacher, you will need to enhance your skills within the area your line of work is.
As previously mentioned Obama tells stories of his time as a student. This is a smart move, because Obama is aware that the audience consist of children and teenagers. Stories of his childhood are more appealing to the youngsters because they can relate to it. Barack Obama came to the school as a famous person, but was still a stranger to all, and by telling stories such as these a certain trust bond is created between the president and the children. The appeal he uses here is Pathos, because he gives the children a chance to empathize with. “Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork’ I get it. I know what that’s like.’ With this line the empathy becomes mutual, because Obama also sympathizes with the children going through hard times, but at the same he says; ‘I know what that’s like’ so not only does put himself in the children’s shoes, but he gives the children the opportunity to do the same. That is why the empathy becomes mutual.
Obama also attempts to guilt the children into doing better in school. We all know that patriotism is something that lives very deep in the heart of the American people, and by saying; ”you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country” is yet another way of motivating the children.
Another rhetorical technique he makes use of is repetition. The repetition is used throughout the speech where he in many opens them up the words ‘I expect’. Once repetition is used it becomes more memorable, because it is a more discrete way of underlining his assertion. This is very clever because the message has subconsciously, but very clearly reached out to the children without them really knowing.
In the end we can conclude that
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