Michelle Obama on the power of education and self-belief

In December 2018, former first lady Michelle Obama paid a special visit to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, London, to mark the publication of her memoir, Becoming. She spoke to pupils about empowerment through education and the importance of self-belief in achieving your goals.

Following the publication of a younger reader's edition of her number-one bestselling memoir, former first lady Michelle Obama, virtually reunited with London schoolgirls students in 2021, to discuss resilience, sisterhood, motivation and leadership, as well the impact of COVID-19.

You can find the clips and teaching resources for both events below.

2018 Penguin Talk Resources

Age: Key Stages 3 – 5

Subject: PSHE

Topic: Self-belief

The following activities give KS3-5 students the opportunity to identify and discuss personal barriers both they and others may face, how to overcome these barriers, as well as how to grow in self-belief. The following activities can be used as standalone activities, or used together with the starter and plenary to form a complete lesson (approx. 1 hour 30 mins in total).

Learning Objectives:

  1. How do we overcome barriers?

  2. How can we support ourselves and others?

  3. How can we become ourselves

Activity one

Former first lady, Michelle Obama, describes the barriers she faced when she was young and how she overcame them.

Activity two

Michelle Obama discusses the many ways in which we can support ourselves and support others.

Activity three

Michelle Obama poses some big questions to help us work out what we want to do with our lives and suggests that your job does not define who you are.

The full Penguin Talk

2021 Penguin Talk Resources

Age: Key Stages 3 – 5

Subject: PSHE

Topic: Resilience, social media and leadership

The activities give KS3-5 students the opportunity to identify and discuss how to build resilience, the qualities of a leader and how to engage positively with social media. The following can be used as standalone activities, or used together with the starter and plenary to form a complete lesson (approx. 1 hour 30 mins in total).

Learning Objectives:

1.    How do we build resilience?

2.    How can we be leaders?

3.    How can we positively engage with social media?

Activity one

Michelle Obama describes how she has built resilience and her advice for students living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Activity two

Michelle Obama discusses her role as first lady, the many different forms leadership can take and the qualities of being a leader.

Activity three

Michelle Obama shares how young people can positively engage with social media and discusses the importance of sisterhood and building a community.

  • Becoming

  • An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir; 15 million copies sold worldwide

    THE NO. 1 BESTSELLER


    BRITISH BOOK AWARDS, NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR


    THE SUNDAY TIMES, MEMOIR OF THE YEAR


    BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE TIMES, OBSERVER, GUARDIAN, EVENING STANDARD


    'I found myself lifting my jaw from my chest at the end of every other chapter . . . this was not the Obama I thought I knew. She was more'
    Independent
    _______________________________

    In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era.

    As First Lady of the United States of America - the first African-American to serve in that role - she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world. She dramatically changed the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and stood with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

    In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms.

    Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations - and whose story inspires us to do the same.
    _______________________________

    'A rich, entertaining and candid memoir. And overall Obama's a fun person to sit alongside as she tells you the story of her life . . . it is as beautifully written as any piece of fiction' i

    'A genuine page-turner, full of intimacies and reflections' Evening Standard

    'Offers new insights into her upbringing on the south side of Chicago and the highs and lows of life with Barack Obama . . . a refreshing level of honesty about what politics really did to her' Guardian

    'An inspirational memoir that also rings true' Daily Telegraph

  • Buy the book
  • Becoming: Adapted for Younger Readers

  • *A younger reader's edition of the number-one bestselling memoir by former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. With a new introduction from Mrs Obama herself*

    What's important is our story, our whole story, including those moments when we feel a little vulnerable . . .

    Michelle Robinson started life sharing a bedroom with her older brother Craig, in their family's upstairs apartment in her great-aunt's house. Her parents, Fraser and Marian, poured their love and energy into their children. She would go on to become Michelle Obama, the inspirational First Lady of the United States of America.

    Now adapted for younger readers, with new photographs and a new introduction from Michelle Obama herself, this memoir tells a very personal, and completely inspiring, story of how, through hard work and determination, the girl from the South Side of Chicago built an extraordinary life.

    A tale of ups and downs, triumphs and failures, this is an incredibly honest account. It will take you from the early years - first kiss, first school, first love - to the wonders of the White House, and the moment Mrs Obama shook hands with the Queen of England.

    A book to read, share, and talk about with the adults in your life, this is a call to action and compassion, and hope for change in uncertain times, and in a scary world.

    You'll be inspired to help others, and understand that no one is perfect. Just like Michelle Obama, you too are finding out exactly who you want to be (and, actually, so are the adults in your life).

    Above all, it is a book to make you think: who are you, and what do you want to become?

  • Buy the book

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