Saturday, January 22, 2011

206. We Should Go Back To Franklin's Principle

Ms. Amy Chua, her book titled, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” was opposed by David Brooks, whose article titled, “Amy Chua is a Wimp.” With this post by no means do I intend to disglory either the Tiger Mother or her opposer, David Brooks. In terms of educating younger generation, I like neither Ms. Chua nor Mr. David Brooks. I go for Benjamin Franklin's educational thinking. As co-president of the Chinese American Parents Association of Hunter College High School, arguably one of the top high schools in the world, I have something to say regarding this topic: I think that I can not fabricate anything better than Franklin's educational principle.

Franklin viewed virtue as a path to personal happiness and social utility. For Franklin, to be a virtuous person was so important that it decided what kind of life one wanted to live. In 1780, he told his grandson that there were only two kinds of people in the world: the people with virtue and the people without. He said that the people with virtue “are well dress’d and live comfortably in good houses,” and the people without virtue “are poor and dirty” He emphasized, “nothing so likely to make a man’s fortune as virtue.”

The message Franklin wanted to convey to his grandson was that his grandpa had good virtue and therefore could be rich and accumulated fortune, which allowed him to retire at the age of 42. By combining virtue with one’s future, Franklin told his grandson that if he wanted to “not live in miserable cabins” in his later life he need to start to cultivate his virtue at a young age. Franklin not only told his grandson to train his “good morals” himself but asked him to “recommend” the good morals to his friends when his grandson returned to the United States after his study in Swissland.

We can tell from the above that Franklin maintained that happiness and social utility should be goal of education. To reach this goal, one must cultivate one's virtue. Compared with Franklin's principle, we will find what's wrong with either Chua or Brooks. Chua could raise young people as successful individuals; however, they would have difficulties serving community. On the other side, Brooks could produce someone who wants to serve community but doesn't possess necessary knowledge on how to do so. No doubt, we should go back to Franklin's principle.

No comments: