Bill Gates on Making a Difference

Melinda and I have focused on poverty and disease globally, and on education in the US. We picked those issues by starting with an idea we learned from our parents: Everyone’s life has equal value. If you begin with that premise, you quickly see where the world acts as though some lives aren’t worth as much as others. That’s where you can make the greatest difference, where every dollar you spend is liable to have the greatest impact.

Bill Gates

On the Value of Education — President Obama

President Obama posted the full text of the speech he’ll deliver to students tomorrow. Here’s an excerpt:

And no matter what you want to do with your life Ė I guarantee that youíll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? Youíre going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You canít drop out of school and just drop into a good job. Youíve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isnít just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What youíre learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

Youíll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. Youíll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. Youíll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you donít do that Ė if you quit on school Ė youíre not just quitting on yourself, youíre quitting on your country.

Was this speech that Obama planned to deliver the whole time? I don’t know. I don’t care. I’ll give Obama the benefit of the doubt. I want my son to hear this and be inspired to learn.

Update (Sept. 8, 2009). Imagine my surprise when Jamison told me he hadn’t heard Obama’s speech at school today. I never imagined that a public school in Oregon wouldn’t show the speech to 6th graders.


Hat tip: Patterico’s Pontifications.