Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Children Sing Obama Songs in School: Inspiration or Indoctrination?

I found an interesting opinion blog at The Griot. The author reflects on whether the video showing young grade-school age children singing about President Obama is a way to indoctrinate those young minds, or inspire them. The author, Charisse Carney-Nunes, was a guest at the New Jersey school when the students performed the song. She contends that the song was simply a form of "civic expression," something lacking in American schools. She argues, "It is a widely accepted notion that instruction related to democratic citizenship has declined in our schools in recent years. Educators pressured by such issues as budget woes, the requirements of No Child Left Behind and high stakes testing have understandably increased their instructional time in core subjects like math and reading. "Softer subjects" like civics, social studies and art have taken a back seat."

Her interview with Inside Edition provides some insight into her perspective.



Equally interesting were the comments at the bottom of the blog. Although some are outlandish and even racist, others are cogent. The second commenter, Chris, argues, "A citizenry that is fully informed does not allow its children to sing homage to a standing politician." Chris goes on the explain that politicians only deserve such praise after history has determined their long-term worth.

Glenn Beck, the controversial commentator from FoxNews, leads the charge claiming the performance of this song by small children is, in fact, indoctrination.



While I am willing to acknowledge that Glenn Beck may not be a likeable guy, he makes some interesting points.

As a social studies teacher, this situation has captured my attention. I feel obligated to inform my students about the political process, political controversy, and to let them make their own informed decisions. Perhaps as a result of my great efforts to remain unbiased as I present the information to my students, I often find myself agreeing with both sides and disagreeing with both sides. This is true for a lot of issues in the news recently: healthcare, Afghanistan, Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize, etc.

I love that Charisse Carney-Nunes is championing more creativity, history, and civics education in our schools. This is truly a cause dear to my heart. However, I am also concerned that these young children may not have had the opportunity to form their own opinions of President Obama.

I'm curious about what you think about this Obama-song-situation. Especially those of you who work with a younger population.

Thanks in advance for your comments!

7 comments:

  1. Correct Kerry. It only becomes more and more clear that neither party represents the majority. Keep teaching and encouraging independent thought.

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  2. Hey Kerry! Nice blog :) Ok--this whole Obama sing along thing. Well--I think that if they had used the US vs. Obama's name in the song, maybe it would have gone over a bit better. It's a song, it did not have any huge opinions in it, they weren't singing,Wargasm--an anti-war song. LOLOL. Google those lyrics! That would put parents into a tailspin :)

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  3. Kerry: I love that you try to stay unbiased with your students regarding politics. I agree that it is very important to let students form their own opinions about political figures. I also agree that these students may not have been given that opportunity. Great post!

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  4. Nice blog Kerry. I see both sides of the issue and understand why some parents may not want their children singing that song. On the otherhand, I suppose the teacher was trying to help the 2nd grade class learn more about the President.

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  5. Pat - I wonder what your word replacement suggestion would have done for the situation. Interesting idea!

    Kim - I agree that the teacher's motives were probably not corrupt. I heard from a colleague that Jon Stewart from Comedy Central's Daily Show put another spin on the situation.
    Here's the URL to the video clip from the show. You can copy and paste it into your browser.
    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-september-28-2009/america--target-america
    You have to skip to 3:30 on the counter because there is another story before this one is mentioned.

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  6. Kerry - great topic and good for you for encouraging your kids to think on their own. Just about every kid comes to you pre-programmed from their parents and it's awesome that you are helping them to think on their own.

    My opinion? Well - I don't think that the song itself or the motives behind it were wrong. For me, it was the tune of the song that was poorly chosen. If she had taken those words and set it to a different music score rather than to a score that sounded way too much like a song that little children sing to Jesus, then I don't think that there would have been as much of an uproar.

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  7. The song was politically motivated and I have to agree with the parents in this case, I would be appalled to learn that my child might have sung this song. The repeated "Barrack Hussein Obama" seeks to engrain the name of our supposed "great" president into our children's minds. As the verse from the second song, "For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say hooray", there is a presupposition that he has done anything great as of yet. Sure there are songs sung to past presidents, but can you honestly say that Obama should be categorized so prematurely with Washington, Lincoln and Jefferson? "Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans", this reaks of politics and lends to the accusations of indoctrination.

    I must applaud you as a teacher and given the great responsibility of forming young minds, that you have given this topic a great deal of thought.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/24/lyrics-songs-president-obama/

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