Development of the Study Guide

We invite you to participate in the development of a study guide related to the JFK: The Last Speech film, book and website project. At the end of the documentary, Jay Parini sets the stage saying:

“Never have we needed to look back to Kennedy and Frost more intensely and wonder what can we learn from these men, what can we take away from this moment in time, and what words can we find there which are going light a way to a more hopeful, civilized, and peaceful American future?”

Jay’s words capture the central objective of our project. What can we as individuals and as a society learn from Kennedy and Frost, their words, their example and their lives that is relevant today?

We are using the film, book and website to introduce the Kennedy and Frost messages to audiences everywhere, but to effectively catalyze discussion and reflection, we also need a study guide that raises questions, offers suggestions for further study and engages students of all ages. With that objective, we will provide teachers and professors with access to the film and book for use in preparing the lesson plans, and ask that they agree in return, to send us their lesson plans and a review of the “classroom” results.

We invite you to send us one or more study guide exercises / lesson plans. Multiple exercises may each stand alone or may be related to create a study guide unit.

The study guide will be published on our website,, once we have received ten submissions. Additional exercises/units will be added as they are received. When a study guide of sufficient size has been assembled we plan to publish a printed volume.

Study Guide Format

The format of the planned website presentation structure, which will include a precis of each exercise/unit, is shown in brief at right and fully detailed in Attachment I. The body of each exercise/unit will be available as a link from the website so that the website will be more easily negotiable by the reader. Submissions will be edited to achieve a degree of consistency of format but any substantive changes will be reviewed with the author prior to being published.
Attachment I – Guide for Submissions

Format, in Brief

  • Author(s) Name and Contact Information
  • Where Teaching or Retired & Years of Experience
  • Title of Topic
  • Intended Audience
  • Precis
  • Duration of Exercise
  • Exercise / Lesson Plan
  • Permissions

Potential Topics for Study Guide

As an example of the breadth of subject material we believe is relevant, we have attached as Attachment II a listing of topics that have occurred to us on initial reflection. An abbreviated outline of those Topics is shown at right. This list is not intended to be prescriptive and we encourage your study guide exercises to relate to the subject matter you feel is important and to be motivated by the legacies of President Kennedy and/or Robert Frost.
Attachment II- Sample Topics

Sample Topics, in Brief

  • Relating Education and Democracy
  • Education and Immigration
  • Role of Dissent
  • Role of “Interest” in a Democracy
  • Spirit of the Nation
  • Leadership
  • The Culture of the Times

Sample Lesson Plan for College Students


This course assignment is based on a “creative nonfiction” way of looking at the four “featured” essayists: Nelson, Downs, Palumbo and Wanlass. This might have been developed for my students in creative writing or advanced composition–I always included a unit on the personal essay. Also, for years I taught a course explicitly devoted to the personal essay, and it yielded many wonderful results. My students and I often delved into creative nonfiction/personal essays by others to examine options for the students’ own material and individual aims — Jan Worth-Nelson
See the Creative Nonfiction Lesson Plan

Sample Lesson Plan for High School Students


We aim here to partner with other teachers to provide students with the experience of analysis, judgment, and critical thinking that will lead to insight. We aim to do that by creating conversation and debate opportunities for students as young as 14 through university starting with words from John F. Kennedy’s last speech at Amherst College. His words are timeless; simultaneously his words evoke intellectual and emotional response, and we aim to help each student stop, experience the full response, examine and develop the ideas that capture her or his curiosity, imagination, and emotional response – and then ask them to assess possible decisions, including the constraints and benefits to themselves, their community and the nation.

In this way we hope that students will build a framework for personal values – a framework that at once is flexible yet sturdy; a framework that responds and adjusts yet always acts as a guideline for examined views and informed action.
See the full sample High School Lesson Plan

With Our Thanks

Thank you for your interest and participation. We are seeking differing approaches that teachers have or will use in presenting our resources to their students.  Please get back to us with your “results.”  Feel free to contact any member of the Study Guide Team as listed below with any questions, comments or suggestions that you may have.  We can also be reached at

JFK: The Last Speech Study Guide Team:

Bob Benedetti
Neil Bicknell
Judy Bicknell
Peter Easton
Bank Greene
Bob Knox
Stacey Sklar