Magical Moments: Ben Franklin - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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Magical Moments: Ben Franklin

{photo by Brandy Potts}

Happy Monday and welcome back to school! We hope you enjoyed the time off with family and friends during Thanksgiving break – ready to dive back in?

Today we start Trimester 2, but before we leave the American Revolution behind us, we want to share aMagical Moment that happened before the break. As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago we had the remarkable privilege of hosting Benjamin Franklin, who time traveled to visit our school and talk with our students. If you were not able to be on campus one of those days to hear him, let us share with you a little about this amazing opportunity our kids had to interact with a true American Hero. Here are a just a few highlights and photos from that memorable time with Ben:

Dr. Franklin told the kids about his own lack of formal schooling as a child (2 years only), and how feeling ignorant drove his desire to learn as much as he could, on his own. Books became precious to him, and he claimed that reading and writing well were the most important contributors to his success in everything he did. He was a true self-learner, exemplifying that “love of learning” that we are seeking to instill in our children.

{photo by Brandy Potts}

As a young man, Ben decided that living usefully and helping others was the best kind of life to have. He wanted to live “Pro bono publico” –  for the public good. This led not only to his many inventions that made life better for people, such as the lightning rod and the Franklin stove, but also fueled his passion for starting  institutions such as a public library, a hospital, a university and a fire department in Philadelphia.

He encouraged the kids to never give up in any endeavor that is worth pursuing, and to have courage, remembering how he failed many times as an inventor, but persevered and experienced success as well.

{photo by Brandy Potts}

While apprenticed to his older brother, Benjamin was treated cruelly and often beaten by him. This taught Benjamin to despise arbitrary power applied unethically, and to love liberty. He reminded the kids that the Constitution the founding fathers created was made for them, the future generations. 

{photo by Brandy Potts}

Ben had some fun with the kids, testing their knowledge of his inventions, and some of his famous quotes from Poor Richard's Almanac. As you would expect, our students were quick to raise their hands and offer examples of his inventions, and were able to finish his lines as he quoted his wise sayings. 

{photo by Brandy Potts}

Each group of students had excellent, thoughtful questions for Mr. Franklin. A few examples from the Primary and Intermediate group: 

– “Did you know Paul Revere?”

– “How old were you when you started inventing?”

– “What did you do with the electricity that you captured in a jar during the kite experiment?”

The Middle Schoolers asked many questions, a few of which were:

– “What was one of your favorite civilizations?”

– “What invention are you most proud of?”

– “What were your ideas about women and how they should be treated?”

Our High Schoolers also came up with some challenging questions, such as:

– “Who was your inspiration for all that you did?”

– “What did you do with your slaves after you became an abolitionist?” 

– “Is it worth it to go into debt to invest in education?”

{photo by Jaime MIckey}

At the end of the Middle School presentation, it was wonderful to hear the kids break out into their recitation of the Declaration of Independence, with Ben smiling and encouraging them along. Some of the adults in the back witnessing this moment had goose bumps!

Toward the end of his talk with the High Schoolers, Ben said something that will resonate with many parents: “Invest in education, because it pays the best dividends.” That's what we are doing here at SLO Classical Academy – investing in a rich, classical education that provides extraordinary experiences like this one, to instill that interactive, hands-on love of learning in our children, the future leaders of our nation.

{clockwise: photos by Jaime Mickey, Jenny Bischoff Brandy Potts}

The two days we had with Benjamin Franklin were full of Magical Moments that our kids will remember for years to come. They will have an even greater appreciation for this humble servant, heroic patriot, creative inventor, and founding father of our country. Isn't it amazing that our students were able to experience this? 

Dr. Franklin, we thank you for your time, wisdom, and enthusiasm. Your long, busy, useful life of service is positively inspiring. And thank you to the families who helped make it possible for Ben to visit us. It was a truly special treat!

Let’s talk: Did your kids talk about their experience with Benjamin Franklin? What did they say?

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