Encouraging thoughtful discussion in the classroom can be challenging, but Voices of Democracy makes the task a little easier by providing instructors with discussion starters and additional classroom activities to use when teaching notable speeches form American history.
For example, in honor of the sixtieth anniversary of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace,” delivered before the United Nations in December of 1953, you might consider using the following prompt to discuss this speech in your classroom:
“Identify and discuss President Eisenhower’s use of metaphors in the speech. How do his metaphors differ in relation to the Soviet Union versus the United States and its allies? Why do you think that he used nature metaphors to talk about atomic energy development? Do you think such nature metaphors represent a strategic choice for President Eisenhower? Why or why not?”
This question and others, along with additional activities that encourage student research and civic engagement, may be found under the “Teaching-Learning Materials” link located in the “Atoms for Peace” VOD Unit.
Want to check out classroom activity ideas for a different VOD Unit? Browse through the list of VOD Units, select the speech that interests you, then click on the “Teaching-Learning Materials” link for that address.
Samantha Baskin, Undergraduate intern at the Center for Democratic Deliberation, Penn State University.
Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon B. Johnson delivered one of the most memorable speeches in American history. Just days after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, he delivered a speech featured on Voices of Democracy: “Let Us Continue.”
At times of crisis presidents often try to restore the people’s confidence and rally them behind a new vision of the future. During this time of uncertainty, President Johnson masterfully spoke in a calm and reassuring fashion. In the speech, he both eulogized Kennedy and established his own legitimacy as president. President Johnson vowed to continue Kennedy’s initiatives, voicing his support for President Kennedy’s stance on the Vietnam War, his welfare program, and his goals in regards to civil rights. Supporting elements of Kennedy’s plans and introducing a few of his own, President Johnson both appealed to Kennedy’s supporters and tried to rally the nation behind his own vision of national unity.
For more on President Johnson’s notable speech, visit the VOD unit on “Let Us Continue.”
Almir Hodzic, Undergraduate intern at the Center for Democratic Deliberation, Penn State University.
With the campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney concluded, the campaign speechmaking ends as well. Campaign speechmaking as a separate or unique type of rhetoric is analyzed by some VOD contributors. Check out these units on specific campaign oratory:
Just having marked the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address on March 4th and having recently celebrated the bicentennial of his birth, much consideration has been given to the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. For those interested in learning more or in integrating some Lincoln materials into your rhetoric and public address courses, check out VOD’s unit on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and its partner unit on Edward Everett’s Gettysburg Address.
We’d also encourage interested scholars to develop a unit on either of Lincoln’s inaugural addresses.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. It also marks the anniversary of one of the most remarkable speeches in American history.
For those celebrating this anniversary or teaching this speech, VOD‘s teaching unit on JFK’s Inaugural Address is worth a visit. There you will find the speech itself, teaching and learning resources, suggested classroom activities and assignments, and an interpretive essay by Sara Ann Mehltretter that emphasizes the foreign policy dimensions of the Inaugural Address.
New units analyzing important public oratory will soon come to Voices of Democracy, including:
- Eugene Debs, “Canton, Ohio Speech” (1918)—by James Darsey
- Lyndon B. Johnson, “Renunciation Speech” (1968)—by David Zarefsky
- Abraham Lincoln, “House Divided Speech” (1858)—by David Zarefsky
- Harvey Milk, “The Hope Speech” (1978)—by Charles E. Morris III & Jason Edward Black