Over the past few weeks I have been reading some of Ben Franklin’s autobiography, bits at a time. This week I read a section that I just really wanted to share with you. Included in his autobiography, Franklin has a letter sent to him in 1783 by Mr. Benjamin Vaughan. In this letter Franklin is encouraged to complete his autobiography, which was only started at this point, so that it could benefit others. In it he includes this section on the importance of self-education and the example for youths. Check it out – it is quite good. Read it twice if you need to.
Enter Benjamin Vaughan.
School and other education constantly proceed upon false principles, and show a clumsy apparatus pointed at a false mark; but your apparatus is simple, and the mark a true one; and while parents and young persons are left destitute of other just means of estimating and becoming prepared for a reasonable course in life, your discovery that the thing is in many a man’s private power, will be invaluable! Influence upon the private character, late in life, is not only and influence late in life, but a weak influence. It is in youth that we take out party as to profession, pursuits and matrimony. In youth, therefore, the turn is given; in youth the education even of the next generation is given; in youth the private and public character is determined; and the term of life extending but from youth to age, life ought to begin well from youth, and more especially before we take our party as to our principal objects. … your biography will not merely teach self-education, but the education of a wise man.
For the Road.
I thought this was powerful. Here are a few thoughts and then I will leave you. Feel free to interact with them in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts.
- Education is a man’s private power. It is also his responsibility. Teach those you mentor to learn, to ask the right questions and to discover and they will surpass all else that you could offer.
- Influence on character is more powerful the earlier it takes place. If you can interact with those you mentor earlier it will make a difference. If you know you are going to mentor them when they reach a certain point, start earlier. Even if a little energy is given it will be to their advantage.
- Private and public character is determined at a young age. The issue of why the habits we form at an early age matter is clearly seen here. What you see in them as an adolescent is not easily redirected.
What are your thoughts? Let me know.