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Obama criticized the iPad and other gadgets at a recent graduation speech  (Source: YouTube)

The U.S. currently ranks fourteenth in college graduation rates according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  (Source: OECD)

Apparently, President Obama knows how to work an iPod nano
Steve Jobs might not be attending Christmas at The White House this year

Addressing 1,100 college graduates at Hampton University (VA) on Sunday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that high school diplomas were no longer enough to compete in the global economy.  He stated that it was the responsibility of every American to offer young people access to higher education, particularly when other nations such as India, China, Japan, and the EU are paying for some or all of their college students' expenses.

A full video of the speech can be found here.

In the speech he offers some unexpected criticism of today's hottest gadgets, including the iPad.  He stated, "You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter.  And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

Many people have commented that it was curious of the President to attack the use of the products, which he admittedly knows little about.  The President is still far from tech illiterate, though -- he was a compulsive BlackBerry user and has been seen using various laptops.

After that somewhat unscripted moment, the rest of the ceremony was relatively predictable.  Obama praised the vision of the university's founders, who in 1861 set up the college as a place for escaped slaves from the South to gain an education.  He describes, "They recognized, as Frederick Douglass once put it, that 'education means emancipation.' They recognized that education is how America and its people might fulfill our promise."

Obama criticized society for accepting the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics failing to receive higher education compared to their white colleagues.  He comments, "All of us have a responsibility, as Americans, to change this, to offer every single child in this country an education that will make them competitive in our knowledge economy. That is our obligation as a nation."

President Obama is obviously right that American youth need to gain a college education.  And it's a fair point that when many other countries pay for college education, the U.S. risks falling behind if it fails to do so.  But attacking the iPad and iPod?  We're guessing Steve Jobs won't be inviting Obama on his golf trips anytime soon.





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