Not long ago I was talking to a Millennial friend of mine who was bemoaning his inability to get to work on time.
“I need to get you a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanack,” I laughed. All I got was a puzzled look from my friend.
“You, know, ‘Early to bed and early to rise…?” I asked, hopefully.
“Huh?” he replied.
He shook his head.
“Electricity? Spectacles? The pot-bellied stove? Ben Franklin? The guy on the one hundred-dollar bill.”
“Oh yeah, he is the only non-president, right?”
“That’s the guy,” I said, “He wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack. It had lots of useful information and sayings, like ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,’ You should have learned about it in grade school.”
My friend shook his head. He did not know anything about the life and times of Ben Franklin.
There were several other Millennials in our group. Young adults educated in schools all around America. None of them had heard of Poor Richard’s Almanack, and Franklin was just the face on the $100. Why he was there, they knew not. I groaned and said something about the sad state of education in America.
When I was a kid, we learned fun facts about Ben Franklin the writer, inventor and scientist in class. When I was in high school we learned about his political life and how he was an integral part of American Revolution and the early survival of our nation. My teachers had survived the Great Depression, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. An elderly Auschwitz survivor came to my school and showed us her tattooed serial number. My teachers made sure, as poor a student as I was, that I knew my origins. Not so much, today.
Today, we live with an educational system where it is no longer politically correct to teach that our Founding Fathers were great men who wrote, and fought and died for, the Constitution of the United States of America, the greatest document of its kind ever to exist. Now that Common Core is the rule of the land, our children are no longer being taught to read and write cursive, so it is only a matter of time before Americans cannot even read the Constitution in its original form. Today’s teachers, made up primarily of Baby Boomers and GenXers, have absolutely failed to teach the Millennial generation what they need to know to survive, starting with the wisdom found in Poor Richard’s Almanack. For that, we owe them an apology.
“Sell not virtue to purchase wealth nor liberty to purchase power.”
“Meanness is the parent of insolence.”
“Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.”
“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other, and scarce in that.”
“Diligence is the mother of good luck.”
“Have something to do tomorrow? Do it today.”
“There are no gains without pains.”