One of my goals this year is to read an autobiography each month. I enjoy reading autobiographies, because I like to hear about people in their own words and from their perspective in their own time. My hope is to glean from the lessons shared from historical figures and apply them to educational leadership. My January book was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, who is often referred to as “The First American“. Here are some of the lessons I took away from my reading.
He was a life-long learner: Throughout the story of his life, Franklin used every spare dollar he had in buying new books. In fact, he often bartered with friends to obtain new reading material and even helped found the first public libraries in America. He also tackled the task of learning new languages (plural) when he was in his thirties. Later in life, he also continued his scientific experiments, including his famous “Philadelphia Experiment” with electricity. He never stopped being curious and never stopped learning. Sounds like a teacher to me!
He was all about relationships: Franklin was famous for his art of compromising with people. One of his methods for doing this was eating and drinking with his “enemies”. Even when he had severe differences with rivals, he would often meet with them at their home and converse and even argue over a meal, but he never let it get personal. He kept things professional and realized that he often had to work with those he did not agree with and kept a civil demeanor. In education, we often have to deal with people who have different viewpoints and we can follow Ben’s example of working with people (even those we don’t agree with) towards a common goal.
He always put it in writing: One of the recurring themes of the book, was Franklin’s insistence on putting things in writing. Whether starting up a business or chartering a project he always made sure to put all agreements in writing. This was with both friends and strangers. He noted that many friendships disintegrated, because of disagreements that could have been prevented by simply formalizing things at the beginning of project. As a school administrator, I was once told that “the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory“. I have found that to be true and try to take Franklin’s advice of keeping things clear and in writing whenever possible.
He was full of wisdom: Many of Ben Franklin’s proverbs are still used today and his wit was legendary both in his own time and far beyond. One of my favorite pieces of advice that he gave was “One today is worth two tomorrows“. As an educator, I have always found this to be true. The student we have in front of us right now and the difference we can make each day in the classroom and in the school is what makes our jobs so special. We can plan for tomorrow, but what we do today is what makes all the difference.
Ben Franklin lived over two centuries ago. However, his life and lessons resonate clearly today just as they did at the founding of our country and serve as a road map to teachers, principals, and everyone who works in the schools. He may not have been an educator, but he certainly taught by his example and left lessons that are still relevant today!
“Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” – Ben Franklin
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” – Ben Franklin
- Monday, March 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
- Tuesday, March 10: District PD 8:00-11:00/Building PD 12:30-3:30, Skate Night 6-8 PM
- Wednesday, March 11: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
- Thursday, March 12: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Tornado Drill 1:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
- Friday, March 13: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Records Day in PM
- Saturday, March 14: Pancake Breakfast
- Monday, March 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (Book Fair Begins)
- Tuesday, March 17: Dennis Mathew/Author Assemblies in the PM, Grades due at midnight
- Wednesday, March 18: Presentation by Andrea Oquist 8:15 AM
- Thursday, March 19: PLC session 7:50-8:50 AM
- Friday, March 20: Report Cards go home
- Wednesday, March 25: Battle of the Books
- Friday, March 27: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM / Building PD in afternoon