By popular demand


By popular demand, here comes some student writing.

My juniors read a bit of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography (his arrival in Philadelphia and his list of attributes to improve) and some aphorisms from Poor Richard's Almanack.

The textbook also included a section from Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Since next year is the tricentennial of Franklin's birth, we imagined a B. Franklin Tricentennial Committee. I assigned them to read the page of Fulghum and then to write a letter to the committee for one of two purposes:

1. The committee is considering Fulghum to speak at the festivities and the letter is in support of that idea because Fulghum is his intellectual heir.

2. The committee has chosen Fulghum to speak and the letter is recalling a change of mind because Fulghum is simply not an appropriate choice.

The students were to pick whichever scenario fit their feelings and write a letter, using supporting quotations from the text.

Here are two of those letters.


To whom it may concern

Hi. My name is [...name...] and I am writing this letter to let you know my opinion about Benjamin Franklin and Robert Fulghum. I think Benjamin Franklin should be voted for the parede thing. The reasons why I picked him was because he is in the one-hundred dollar bill. The other reason is that he is a smart person, so is Robert Fulghum but picked Franklin cause he's in the bill. I heard alot of things about Franklin. I read something about Fulghum and I like some things in the story like how to behave. Thank you for reading my letter.




Dear B. Franklin Tricentanial Comitee,

I think you shouldn't hire Robert Fulghum. Why? Because he sounds cynical. He thinks that life is about cooperating with rules you learn during kindergarten. He doesn't know that everything eventually changes. Also not everyone in this world is kind. There will always be a bad person. So you can't expect the whole world to hold hands. We can't all take naps in the afternoon cause there is more important stuff in the afternoon than any other time. These man is probably mentaly retarded. With the mind of a 6 year old kid. It would be a mistake to hire. So think about it really good. Benjamin Franklin has really discovered other, more important things, so he is so much better. On the other hand, B. Franklin is so much better cause he understands that if we wanna get civilized, we need to change. Get mature. Then he also added that lightning is electricity. He made many theorys & he made them facts. He discovered a lot of things. He also knew how to speak in kindda of a riddley way pretty good. Thanks for the cooperation.




  1. What grade was that class??

    I don't know weather to laugh or cry... although my first instinct hysterical laughter

  2. Wow. Truely inspiring.

    I met Robert Fulghum once. He bought me a (non-alcoholic) drink in a private club in Salt Lake. I also visited Benjamin Franklin's home in Boston. He didn't buy me anything, partly because he was dead. So I guess that's why I'd vote for Robert Fulghum to be on the hundred dollar bill instead. Also, I don't wear glasses or use a rocking chair, so some of Franklin's inventions don't really have relevance for me.

  3. Thank you for caving to popular demand; it makes me quite the happy camper.

    My favorite letter was the first one. First, I chuckled about Franklin being in the parede. Oh, the mission memories that lead to such charming visualizations. In Portuguese, a parede is a wall.

    (Which, on a totally different note, reminds me of my favorite scene from Phenomenon with John Travolta. This came out, I believe, the summer after I returned from Portugal. As a refresher, After having his Weird Flash of Light Mind Experience, Travolta is suddenly super smart. So on his way to help an immigrant Portuguese worker, he pulls out a Portuguese dictionary and learns Portuguese. Then, because his best friend is smitten with Hot Portuguese Chick (who didn't resemble anyone in my mission, by the by, though, by her accent, she was clearly from my mission country), Travolta teaches said best friend some Portuguese phrases to woo the woman. The subtitles tell us that he is saying something sweet and romantic like "Your eyes are as beautiful as the stars." Unfortunately, Travolta's pronunciation is actually "Your garlic is as beautiful as the stars." The glares I received for bursting out in laughter during a romantic scene. Okay, so that's the end of random story that's interrupting your blog.)

    Second, I like how Franklin is in the $100 bill. That's got to be mighty uncomfortable. And for all those years . . .

  4. .

    1. I would love to meet Robert Fulghum. Of course, I know how cynical his "Kindergarten" is, but I think he really pulled out of that in his later books.

    2. Ben in a wall. That does lead to good visualizations....

    3. I didn't realize Travolta movies had serious moments. Perhaps I haven't seen enough of them.

    4. Yeah, and when was the last time any of us used a franklin stove? or a public library? or a fire department? Sheesh. What a wasted life that man lived!

    5. 11th graders. (!)

  5. Um, so I get to help grade papers for one of the classes I am in and unfortunately a few of them sounded a bit like these responses (not that bad, but still pretty interesting for people in an upper level Spanish class). I don't think I dare post anything, though.
    Thanks for the laughs.

  6. .

    Well, Foxy, if you ever change your mind, we'll still be here.

  7. I am laughing so hard right now, and it is not healthy for me.

    I once graded the "Freedom Festival" papers for the 1st through the 3rd grades. The kids were supposed to write about what they liked about America. The remarks were at once hilarious and revelatory.

    "I like being in America because there is no king. Just parents. In other places, the king tels people what to do, not the parents."

    "I love America because God loves us best and that is why we have no soonamis."

  8. So... how do you grade these things? Because I remember being in high school and when we had to do the peer grading thing... I sortof might have given everyone high 90s on their work because I thought they deserved it. One day my teacher announced that she was having a hard time figuring out everyone's real grade because one class member had a very slanted grading scale. Then she glared at me. So what if I can't give people bad grades!

    So... do you give these people bad grades? Do you say, "Your opinions suck?" Do you say, "I think that you should persue a career in mathematics because anything that has to do with writing simply isn't going to work for you"?

  9. .

    I'm not sure what to do. Basically, right now, I'm giving credit for filling space and sort of following the assignment and bonus points fo content.

    Weak, huh?