What Kids Should Learn From President Obama's State of the Union Address

Filed under: In The News, Media, Opinions, Education: Big Kids, Activities: Big Kids, Education: Tweens, Activities: Tweens, Education: Teens, Activities: Teens



For many kids, the night a United States President delivers the State of the Union address is the most productive night for homework –- the mood is somber, the parents inattentive and there's absolutely nothing on TV.

But it's a shame, really, because few things are more life-as-classroom relevant than a real-time civics lesson. If you break the State of the Union address down into kid-inspiring bites, there's a lot for them to chew on.

Below are 15 parts of President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address that kids can understand (with a little help from you). These quotes are not just hopeful, but they teach history and inspire curiosity. Just be sure to stand by to answer questions!

"We have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that's a good thing. That's what a robust democracy demands. That's what helps set us apart as a nation."

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"We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people."

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"We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -- the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That's why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like "What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

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"We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."

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"What America does better than anyone else is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that puts cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living."

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"Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.This is our generation's Sputnik moment." (Click here for more kid-friendly info about Sputnik.)

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"We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair. We need to teach them that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline."

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"If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child -- become a teacher. Your country needs you."

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"In the coming year, we'll also work to rebuild people's faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you'll be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history."

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"Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we're disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family."

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"The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people." (Click here for more kid-appropriate info about Tunisia.)

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"Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they've served us -- by giving them the equipment they need, by providing them with the care and benefits that they have earned, and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation."

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"Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love."

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"As contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth. We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything is possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from."

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"From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future."

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Joel Schwartzberg is an award-winning essayist and the author of "The 40-Year-Old Version."

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.