Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Burkean Alalysis: Obama’s Speech on Education-Kenmore Middle School, Arlington, VA

On March 14, 2011 President Obama visited Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia to deliver a speech on education, budgetary constraints and the refinement of the No Child Left Behind policy.  He delivered the speech in the gymnasium of Kenmore Middle School.  In the audience were students of the school, seated directly to the side of the stage, along with school board members, teachers and administrators at Kenmore.

The act was motivated by the talks of budget cuts.  President Obama wanted to ensure the nation that while he is working to freeze spending and help decrease the deficit, that education is a top priority and should not be cut.  President Obama used descriptive and active language throughout the speech while naming some examples of improvements that are being made in the nation’s schools and some of the direct results from these changes.             

The scene for President Obama’s speech was very appropriate because it was consistent with the message being delivered.  Because the President was speaking on education, he delivered the remarks in a public school.  The setting added authenticity and credibility to the speech and showed that President Obama took the opportunity to spend time in the classroom and see first-hand America’s students in action. 

As President of the United States, Obama’s opinion is respected and the country looks to him for guidance and as an ultimate leader.  To have this strong agent deliver this particular speech was very effective.  It is encouraging to know that the President of the country values education.  It is promising to hear his plans for the improvement of the education system that will ultimately benefit our society as a whole.
There must be a connection between the message and its effect.  In this speech there was an immediate effect on the audience in the gymnasium at Kenmore Middle School.  Judging from the audience’s applause at certain intervals, they approved of President Obama’s statements.  They most likely felt encouraged and uplifted directly following the speech.
President Obama strived to make it clear that education is extremely valuable and needs more attention paid to it, not more money taken away from it. 

The agent acted to call attention to the refinement of the No Child Left Behind Policy and the overall issue of education in the United States.  He used the speech as a pep rally to encourage teachers and administrators to strive for greatness and work each and every day to help students improve and reach their goals.  It was important that he again used the reference “nation builders” to describe teachers.

The act had an influence on the scene.  Because the topic of the speech was education, the speech was delivered in a school.  Also, the agent had a direct impact on the agency.  President Obama is a strong agent so it certainly shaped the way the speech was delivered and the effect it had on the audience present and the audience listening.  Those are two main connections that can me made with Kenneth Burke’s pentad.  Overall, the speech was effective and President Obama continues to act as a strong agent.  He worked to make the speech relatable not only to citizens of the country, but students of all ages.

Lindsay Behrenshausen
Wilkes University 2011
Communication Studies

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