Great speeches, inspiring words

As the new school year approaches, I know we’ll all be looking for some inspiration, so I thought I’d gather up some useful and FREE resources available for everyone, but especially useful for social studies and history teachers.

Today many students take for granted that if something important, newsworthy or unusual is happening, that someone will have a way of taking a picture or recording it for posterity’s sake. In fact, technology has made it so easy to capture the events of the world, that nowadays news broadcasts often include video or pictures sent in from “citizen reporters”. But this was not always the case. Until very recently, most historic events could not be photographed or recorded in any significant way. If there is video or audio of something out there, the internet gives you a ticket to find it (and a front row seat if it exists). Here then, are three web sites I’d like to refer you to for some classroom resources (text, video and audio) and for inspiration:

YouTube: Sure the company’s trademarked tagline is “Broadcast Yourself”, and there are some people who are doing that on YouTube. Many more people, however, are not posting videos of themselves, but instead using this technology to post their favorite clips from previously televised programs or videos (a big problem for the original creators of content). Besides all of the music videos, pirated movie clips, and other non-educational stuff, you can find some really interesting and classroom-friendly resources on YouTube. Without straining my brain too much I was able to find video clips of JFK’s inaugural address, Nixon’s resignation, Malcolm X debating James Farmer, Chomsky debating Buckley, Khrushchev at the UN in 1960 (old style news reel) and the July 1969 liftoff of the Apollo 11. Have a favorite speech? Type it into YouTube and see if there is a video or audio clip of the “original”.

Wikipedia: I know, I know. First You Tube and now Wikipedia? I tell all my students that Wikipedia is a good place to start, just like the more traditional print encyclopedia. I also remind them that Wikipedia is an open source work meaning that anyone can and does “edit” the information available. Still, with all those considerations in mind, this web-site is definitely worth checking out, including its list of notable speeches. Follow enough links from the Wikipedia article, and you may find such hidden gems as Faulkner reading his 1949 acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize.

American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th century: This is a diverse and somewhat uneven collection (7 DNC speeches?) that provides the full text of all one hundred speeches. There are limitations to its video and audio collection, though. Some speeches have streaming video (usually from other sites), and 78 of the 100 speeches are available for downloading as an mp3 file. This site does not seem to be affiliated with any college or university. Instead it is copyrighted to Michael E. Eidenmuller, who just recently published a book called Great Speeches for Better Speaking. According to his bio, he is an Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Texas. Of course you’ll find MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but how many people have ever heard Elie Wiesel’s “The Perils of Indifference” or MacArthur’s farewell address to Congress or Reagan addressing the Shuttle Disaster? Worth perusing. Which was my favorite? You guessed it … I couldn’t choose between the DNC speeches.

So, we all know now that the countdown to a new school year has officially begun! Just got my welcome back letter from Mr. Nangle. Hope you all find something inspiring to bring to school. Thanks for stopping by and see you all next week.

© 2008 henry toromoreno


About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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2 Responses to Great speeches, inspiring words

  1. Jacqueline M Muollo says:

    Henry: The radio station is a good find. Amazing. The poetry reading should be wonderful. I hope you read your poetry. I’ll try to make it.
    Nice place for finding speeches – particularly poignant at this time in history because a black man is very close to becoming President. MLK never put the actual reality into words – I wonder if he even dreamed it. Unfortunately we are still surrounded by the 3 r’s- republicans, racists, and rednecks. But in some circles I feel the 3 E’s making inroads: excellence, education and equality.

  2. RaiulBaztepo says:

    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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