Civic Literacy Curriculum
This curriculum guide is intended to cover question 85.
Q85: What is one thing that Benjamin Franklin is famous for?
A. He started the first free libraries.
B. He was a U.S. diplomat.
C. He was the first Postmaster General of the United States.
D. All of the above
Note: The following background material depicts how a contemporary of Benjamin Franklin may have briefly described his accomplishments in a writing style typical of the time.
It is the endeavour of this Author to gain thy Favour by declaring that lessons such as These are created for the publick Good. The plain Truth of the Matter is, I am determin’d to see Right done by my good Friend and Fellow-Student, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, whose interest I am unwilling to hurt and whose achievements bear Retelling as they so prove his learned and ingenious self as one who ought not be Forgotten to the passage of Time itself.
Mr. Franklin was not only profoundly skilful in the useful Science he profess’d, but he was a Man of exemplary Curiosity, a most sincere Patriot, and an exact Performer of his Word.
His wordsmithing much endear’d him to all, though he modestly wrote using other names, viz. Richard Saunders and Silence Dogood. I have reason to hope, to the Satisfaction of the Publick, that he shall be remembered for his Wit, tho’ not that alone. He found an unfree Press unconscionable, and often used his Labours to advance such freedom, to advance learning, and to advance the young Nation, The United States of America, an Enterprise that today sets a Shining Example for all. To diffuse knowledge and ideas, he started a system of free libraries, and Mr. Benjamin Franklin also served as the first Postmaster General of the United States
Mr. Benjamin Franklin was in favour of the Republic, and demonstrated as such through Actions. A Politician and a Diplomat, Mr. Benjamin Franklin can Rightly claim to have been involv’d in the creation of these documents that began our Great Experiment, viz. The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, The Treaty of Alliance with France, and the Treaty of Paris. All four of which bear his signature, an Honour only he can claim.
I thank the Publick for their gracious and kind Encouragement in Purchasing of my Labours so as to learn more of my good Friend, Mr. Benjamin Franklin. I am, dear Reader, his, as well as thy Affectionate Friend.
Benjamin Franklin was known for countless achievements and a multifaceted career. During his lifetime, he was a diplomat, an inventor, a journalist, a legislator, a magistrate, a postmaster, and a publisher. He was also a humorist, known for his sharp wit and stinging satire. This activity introduces the students to that side of him and gives them a chance to channel their inner Franklin, challenging them to create their own adages on how to successfully navigate life in general.
- Provide each group with a copy of the meme generator and a pen, marker, or the like that is capable of writing on a black background.
- Provide each group with the Poor Richard’s Almanack reading.
- The students will work independently for this activity.
- If you wish to have the students work in pairs, divide the class into pairs based on the students’ individual levels. Group A is the group that needs some extra support. Group B is the core group that has the core knowledge to complete the activity. Group C is the enrichment group that has mastered the material; Group C students are prepared to extend their knowledge. Pair those who need support (Group A) with those who have core knowledge and/or have mastered the material (Groups B and C).
- Explain to the students that they are going to read some excerpts from Franklin’s publication Poor Richard’s Almanack, where he dispensed not only wisdom relating to everyday matters such as farming, cooking, and housekeeping, but also advice on how to live a good life. He was skilled at packaging that advice in the form of short, clever sayings.
- After they read and talk about his writings, they will create their own clever sayings and make up memes to showcase them.
- Provide the students with the necessary materials.
- Circulate throughout the room as the students design their memes.
- Once the students complete their memes, you can have them present them to the class and talk about why that advice might be useful today.
Benjamin Franklin was someone who seemed to do everything and know everything. He wasn’t just a printer; he was also a writer, a politician, a diplomat, a postmaster, a scientist, and an inventor. And that’s not even the whole list.
Benjamin Franklin played a major role in the creation of the United States, but he was not just a politician. He was an accomplished, self-educated man who valued free speech and a free press. What is one thing that he is famous for? Can you name his other achievements?
When we look at our Founding Fathers, we see a wide variety of personalities and beliefs. How would our political life be different if we had more leaders like Benjamin Franklin today? How might leaders like Franklin think, speak, or act differently than our current leaders do? Would someone like Franklin be as influential today as he was in his own time? Why do you believe this? Use current and past events to help support your answer.