NFL quarterback Jameis Winston was addressing a group of elementary students at their school. While encouraging the children to believe in themselves, the manner in which this was done actually marginalized the young girls at the expense of making the young boys feel empowered.
Upon watching the video, I was left with the impression that he probably was not trying to achieve this effect. That however does not minimize the hurt many of the young girls felt being told, they were expected “to remain silent.” Some have criticized Mr. Winston’s public speaking skills, while others have cited that he is not in the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks not withstanding his budding talent.
However, what is most concerning to this writer, is the fact that the school seems to have thought that playing in the NFL alone, makes someone worthy of being granted access to a learning environment filled with impressionable, and moldable minds. Perhaps the school felt since Mr. Winston had finished at Florida State University, the message of the road to NFL success through college would be better appreciated by its students. Even if this were their intent, this does not absolve them of their culpability in this event.
All too often, this society places a greater emphasis on entertainment (i.e sports, music, etc) value as opposed to things that create monumental changes. Changes in the social, political and economic realities that impact everyone especially those who cannot always afford the pleasant distractions of attending professional athletic or entertainment events.
Given the need for science, technology, engineering and mathematics to which our children are underexposed, or the understanding of youth entrepreneurship, Mr. Winston should not have been expected to merely motivate the kids with only his presence.
Whenever I address children in a school setting, I always detail to someone in charge the larger goal of empowering the children in my presence. I then wrap those messages in real world examples, and actual applications in which the children take part. This enables them to not only hear about empowerment, but also understand how to actively pursue it from their practical level, not mine.
Educators must remember their job is to help the children unlock their own potential through the building blocks of knowledge. Sadly, it seems that some administrators felt the adoration professional athletes are given had more relevance to the children.
It is incumbent upon administrators of education to consider these points before anyone is brought into the classroom. An astronaut, an engineer, a community entrepreneur, or a social services person showing the children the principles they continue to learn and apply through the educational path which they still travel would have been more applicable to those children. This would be especially meaningful since the majority of kids have greater chances of achieving money, and wealth with some of the aforementioned careers. Prioritizing professional athletes for mainly celebrity appeal while not considering the larger significance explained lacks wisdom.