Oprah Winfrey seems to love to teach–on her top-rated television show, through commencement speeches, in her successful magazine.
But in an era where educators say the one thing students need to learn is so-called “critical thinking skills”–or the ability to deeply analyze problems–Winfrey does very little to help on several levels.
Winfrey’s mantra is self-empowerment, and that, of course, can be a very good thing–but only to a point. She goes well past that point way too often.
I’ve watched her show over the 23 years it has been televised (it was just announced that she is giving it up in 2011, and listened to speeches she has given, including one at Howard University’s graduation in 2007. Her message is loud and clear. As she told the Howard graduates:
“I’m here to tell you today, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry about it. Relax. . . . All you have to know is who you are.’ ”
Well, actually, no, that is not all people have to know to succeed. Furthermore, failure in this view means that you just aren’t good enough to get where you want to go, as if there were no real roadblocks in your way. Life, simply, is not that simple.