Benjamin Franklin

There are about as many ways to homeschool as there are ways to diet. If one were to use the google oracle to search ‘homeschooling philosophies’ one would be faced with this: “Results 1 – 10 of about 1,310,000” . Yowza…where does one start?!

There is a wide range of curriculum in the spectrum between classical homeschooling & unschooling. Each has it’s own ‘leader’ or source of inspiration…Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise wrote “The Well Trained Mind”. John Holt is widely considered the founder of the ‘unschooling’ movement. Dr. Oliver DeMille wrote “A Thomas Jefferson Education”. These are just 3 examples (which I personally have read and loved!) in a sea of many other approaches to the subject of teaching children. A nice comprehensive list of the variety of theories for learning/homeschooling can be found here.

So, what does this have to do with Benjamin Franklin? Back a year or so ago, when we were still using the COVA homeschool curriculum, one of the assignments was a reading on Benjamin Franklin. I am embarrased to admit that even though I was an American Studies major, I never delved more into his life beyond the whole kite/lightning experiment and his contributions to developing our new country. However, one thing led to another, and the kids and I fell in love with Ben. Head over heals, go to the library and check out every book they had on him, read about him every night, LOVE. We were neglecting our other ‘studies’ to make time to learn about this extraordinary life, to the point where I became a little anxious. “Let’s read about Benjamin!” the kids would beg. “First, we have to get these worksheets done! Focus! Sit down! Learn!” I would tell them. They would sulk off, halfheartedly doing their work, until it was finished and they would come alive again. “Benjamin before bed!” they’d shout.

It didn’t take long for The Naturalist to make a connection. “Hey Mom.” she said one day. “Benjamin is a pretty good example, isn’t he? I mean, he was smart, funny, and always thinking of stuff to do and experiments to try, right? He did a LOT of good things.” Walking blindly into her trap, I enthused, “Yeah, he really is amazing, isn’t he?!” “Mom, I really want to be like that.” she explained. “I mean JUST like him. Because he did all of that without going to school. He taught himself the things he wanted to know. He talked to different people, and read lots of books, and looked around at life. I think I have a lot in common with him! I think of things all the time, and I always find things to do, and I want to learn the things that interest me, not the things you want to teach me.” Finally, her evil plan was made clear. And she was making such a good arguement, darn it. She was happy to be out of school, but would be even happier (& productive!) one more step away from a curriculum.

To make a long story a little bit shorter, that was the start of our disconnection with a formal curriculum. It’s amazing the power that one man, who lived 300 years ago!, can have with the present. He’s our ‘mascot’, if you will, and inspiration. DeMille has the Thomas Jefferson Education….we have a Benjamin Franklin Education going on.

Imagine our excitement when we noticed that the DMNS was sponsoring a temporary exhibit in honor of the 300th anniversary of his birth! You cannot possibly imagine the nerdy glow of happiness that enveloped me to see The Naturalist and The Golfer so excited and bouncing around the displays in the exhibit going, “Oh my gosh! Is that his actual signature?!” “Look at this! An almanac!” “Check out what he wore to visit France!” “Look at his glasses!”. The icing on the cake was the whoopie cushions they sold in the gift store (did you know he signed an essay on passing gass: “Fart Hing”? Love, I tell you, nothing but love for this man.).

Advertisements

5 Responses

  1. […] fact, it was Benjamin Franklin who inspired us to let our passion and interest guide the way of our studies, rather than a set […]

  2. […] mantra comes from one important man…the man that led us down our unschooling journey. Benjamin Franklin. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I […]

  3. So, 1.5 yrs into this homeschool thing with my 11 & 8 year old and although I know that God was preparing me…I was not ready today when my 11yr asked me today to put away all of my traditional school ideas, stop getting in the way of the process, and let him learn through life. I equate this with my “Naturalist moment” his eloquence in the conversation astounded me. He has never read any of this stuff and does not know anything about all these philosophies. However, somehow inherently, he was able to explain to me how traditional education and constant direction was squashing his ability and desire to find his own way. 😦 This was hard enough for me to hear. It has been hard for me to prepare for and I now that it is going to be a GIANT LEAP for his engineering dad!.

    All I can say is wow! I truly hope my journey proves to be as fruitful and fun as yours has been.

    At this moment, I am really full of anxiety and amazement at the same time.

    I think reading this post, and your “how we got here “post was truly comforting and helped prepare me for this moment.

    Thanks for taking the time to be so transparent.

    Charisse

  4. Can you recommend a good Ben Franklin biography? For me, my daughter is only 17 months.

  5. […] them running around like feral kids, I just kept repeating…Mark Twain would have loved this! Benjamin Franklin would have loved this! Daniel Boone would have loved […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: