Watching the Inauguration at School

by Harry on January 20, 2009

Did your kids watch the inauguration at school today? My eldest did (middle school). I’m pretty sure the same school did not have them watch either of the previous two inaugurations. I’m fine with that, not because I am an enthusiast for the new President, but because the inauguration of a black President has a rather different meaning. By “fine with that” I mean something like, it seems ok to me in a non-ideal context; I’d much sooner that they spent their time studying. But, my daughter relayed to me the comments of one of my fellow soccer moms, “If they watched Brett Favre retire, they’d better let them watch Barak Obama become President”. Brett Favre’s “retirement” was, apparently, shown in every single classroom in the school except my daughter’s (her teacher suddenly rocketed in my estimation).



matt mckeon 01.20.09 at 9:38 pm

My daughter watched it in her school. I wanted to show it to my US History Class, (we read the oath Washington took–it would have been cool if the kids realized that Roberts flubbed it) but the god damn online streaming video wouldn’t work. We don’t get any TV reception or have cable in the cranky end of the building I’m in.

I’m glad she watched it. It’s a half hour out of instruction time, but hell, its history.


Robert 01.20.09 at 9:50 pm

Middle school and most of high school is useless anyway and this is certainly a historical moment. I don’t see why anyone in a public school should be doing anything else other than watching the inauguration. Would you criticize a school letting the students watch man landing on the moon?


Michael P. 01.20.09 at 10:06 pm

Every class in my children’s school watched it. I don’t know whether they have watched inaugurations in the past and I think that they have a great school and teachers (Orthodox Jewish yeshiva which was leaning towards McCain), but I think that they probably learned more about America by watching the inauguration than they ever could in the same amount of classroom time.


Doctor Science 01.20.09 at 10:07 pm

My middle-schooler’s school (and the high school, too) all watched it, live. I think it a much better use of their time than studying for an extra half-hour, because this is history as it happens.


Russell Arben Fox 01.20.09 at 10:21 pm

Locally it was an in-service day, so the kids were at home; I don’t know if they would have shown the inauguration or not if there’d been school. I hope they would have. Here at Friends Unversity a couple of us professors cancelled classes and took everyone over to the Casado Center, where we watched it all.


alkali 01.20.09 at 11:01 pm

One of the very most important things about American democracy is the peaceful transfer of power between presidential administrations. It will likely happen a dozen times or so during your lifetime. If you are an American, the event always bears watching.


Luther Blissett 01.20.09 at 11:19 pm

My high school has semester finals this week, and my students were taking an exam. But I’m DVRing’s, Beyonce’s, Jay-Z’s, John Cougar’s, and Bon Jovi’s performances for screening next week, because students will learn more about American from them than from anything I could do as one of those worthless high school teachers.

(And Matt, I’m no Roberts’ fan, but Obama screwed up first while taking the oath. And he still hasn’t fixed the recession, so I’ve lost all faith already.)


Barbar 01.20.09 at 11:33 pm

Obama screwed up first while taking the oath

Unclear; Roberts’ first line was surprisingly long.


klk 01.20.09 at 11:35 pm

Baltimore city schools closed so kids could go if they wanted, so my kids were home. My 5-year-old got up and asked to put on a tie because it is an important day, so I matched his attire and we watched with ties on. Some friends came over. It was a nice day, but I don’t know what parents who couldn’t take the day off did.


jim jay 01.21.09 at 12:14 am

We watched it in my (UK) workplace, or rather we listened to it on the radio all crowded into one of our small office spaces. It was part of making the moment extremely special.


Vivian 01.21.09 at 1:43 am

My second grader reported that they watched the inaugural in (regular, public) school, and that it was “good”. (No Favre reports, but this ain’t Wisconsin.) At work our IT wizard spent a couple of hours setting up the conference room to broadcast, and we watched, somewhat spellbound. Especially the 21-23 year olds who could just about remember the 2000 inaugural, but hadn’t seen anything in their primary/middle schools.


Lexy 01.21.09 at 1:54 am

Most teachers at my school did NOT show the inauguration. I was outraged at this. I personally did get to see it- only by leaving one of my classes early and watching it in one of the classes that was actually showing it (this was not an open invitation to all; i just happened to know that teacher). Also, the actual swearing in took place during our 15 min break and teachers still refused to turn it on. Furthermore, it was the first day of the new semester so it’s not like it was even interrupting anything.


Tim B 01.21.09 at 3:05 am

It was on all the TV screens in a coffee shop near where I work (in Vancouver, Canada), and people stopped their normal morning routines to watch (the inauguration and the speech). I’ve never seen Canadians do that for the Throne Speech, for any PM.


Jeremy 01.21.09 at 3:23 am

I remember watching the space shuttle take off when I was in 4th grade (born ’79, so that would’ve been ’88 or so?). Hell, we listened to the OJ verdict on the radio in high school, so the inauguration is a giant step up.


matt mckeon 01.21.09 at 3:41 am

I guess they were both a little nervous.


Gene O'Grady 01.21.09 at 4:20 am

I remember that for Kennedy’s inauguration in 1960 we watched on what I believe were newly installed TV’s. I have to confess that what I mostly remember is Robert Frost fighting the glare. Which was probably pretty historic too.


Tom T. 01.21.09 at 4:49 am

Schools here in the Washington area were all shut down. Personally, I think American school children should watch the inaugural every time, for the civics value.

Just from the part where the government officials assemble, through the speech and the departure of the previous POTUS. Not all the hours of commentary about subway crowding and cold weather.


praisegod barebones 01.21.09 at 7:43 am

‘Friends Unversity’ : what a wonderful title for an institution….


Martin James 01.21.09 at 7:47 pm

Obama’s OK for a rookie but he’s no Brett Favre.


laura 01.21.09 at 7:50 pm

both my kids watched it at elementary schools. My six year old watched in the auditorium with the entire school and the teacher had it on all day in the classroom on a smart board.


Dennis 01.22.09 at 9:23 am

I think there is a second option to consider. A teacher who effectively uses teachable moments to expand discussions and open horizons and minds is potentially more valuable than 30 to 60 minutes spent doing dry lesson plans. Depending on grade level, the inauguration could provide a healthy discussion of slavery/civil rights issues. On a more mature level the content of President Obama’s speech could be the touchstone for some fascinating current event and history discussions.

All depends on the teacher.


sprite 01.22.09 at 5:29 pm

My boyfriend teaches in an NYC high school; the entire school watched the inauguration in a special assembly. I’d never seen an inauguration myself until Tuesday; I watched it in a packed conference room at the office.


Gary Franceschini 01.22.09 at 6:24 pm

“I’d much sooner that they spent their time studying…”

What could they study that was more significant? We know – because the research gets repeated every few years to (re)prove it – that what the kids are studying in school has little application to their future lives. Inaugurations will materially affect the world in which the children live for *at least* four years. I for one would be very disappointed if they had not watched the inauguration, and I am disappointed to hear that it is the first time they have watched any inauguration.


harry b 01.22.09 at 9:52 pm

Oh, I was kidding, really (about wishing that they’d study instead).


Susan Nehama 01.23.09 at 9:03 pm

This was absolutely historic – whether you liked Barak Obama or not. I was thrilled that my children watched it. My husband’s office set up 5 conference rooms to watch it – it is our jobs as adults to teach our children what is important.

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