Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Duncanville, Texas Student's Eloquent Speech

A rousing speech by a Duncanville, Texas high school student may be the next viral video. If you haven't seen it, here it is:

In the video, the student, reportedly named Jeff Bliss, berates his teacher for handing out packets and yelling at students who don't understand the material rather than getting up and engaging them. Meanwhile, the teacher repeatedly and apathetically tells the student to leave.

Now, there's no real context surrounding this video yet. What set Mr. Bliss off? Are his words and actions justified? We may know more in the days to come.

However, the points he raises are valid and, no matter the instigating factors, he deserves to be applauded for his passion. And what I find most remarkable about his speech is how eloquent it is. I've often felt the need to "dumb down" dialogue to make it more "realistic," but, aside from the addition of a "yo" and some "frickin'"s, this sounds like it could have come from the pen of an award-winning screenwriter or playwright. We would do well to remember that human beings are capable of profound and eloquent expression. The fact that the words come from the mind of a high school student makes it even more remarkable.

If passion like Mr. Bliss's wasn't an anomaly, I would have much more hope for a bright future. But the lack of passion that I see among young women is truly alarming. Passion, properly channeled, is what drives people to greatness. Passion is what lets an individual master a skill, passion is what gives a person the vision to truly make a difference in this world.

But passion like this can also be turned toward destructive ends. It's up to teachers and parents to direct the passions of young people toward positive goals, not dismiss them or punish them because they are being disruptive. No matter the cause of Mr. Bliss's speech, the teacher's response should have been different. She should have said, "I understand that you're frustrated, and I really do want to discuss this with you after class." She should have made at least an attempt to listen to him rather than immediately dismissing what he was saying. Again, even if he was not justified in doing what he did, it was her responsibility to respond in a mature manner.

Mr. Bliss may or may not be right in his assessment of his teacher. But by being passionate about his position, whether right or wrong, he is an exemplification of what this world could be: not a world of passive, apathetic followers who submit to the status quo, but a world of vibrant, engaged personalities all striving to make things just a little bit better.


  1. I know I've wanted to say this to a few teachers. The fact that the teacher just sits there and says nothing and basically dismisses him makes me sad, as here is this passionate student basically being ignored. Maybe it is all just for show, but if not, this teacher needs to be looked at for her indifference to her students.

    1. Exactly my thoughts. Thanks for the comment!