Benjamin Franklin Aphorism Writing Assignment



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Benjamin Franklin Aphorism Writing Assignment
Benjamin Franklin had a great talent for expressing wisdom in few words. Each year from 1732 to 1758 he published Poor Richard’s Almanac, a book that contained a yearly calendar, attempts at weather prediction (yes, for the entire year), games, household tips, horoscopes, and other information. Many pages contained aphorisms – sound bites of eighteenth century wisdom.
In this assignment, choose an aphorism (there are several listed on the back of this sheet) and explain what that aphorism means. Then, explain how you know that this aphorism is true.
Consider using the Event/Response/Reflection format to organize your essay. In this format you begin by telling a personal story, then discuss your emotional response to the experience and what you learned from the experience after reflection. This is a wonderful format to use on application essays.
Your voice and style in this assignment can be casual. However, this does not mean that you should be boring. On the contrary, please make an effort to be creative and enthusiastic. Consider use the following techniques:


  1. Personal narrative

  2. Imagery

  3. Figurative Language

  4. Concrete details

Remember that this is my introduction to your writing skills. Organize your piece carefully with paragraphs. Don’t write just to add length, but don’t dash off a few sentences and call it done.


This assignment will be worth 50 points. We will use it in a read-around assignment in class, and you will be graded on the following rubric:
Discussion of appropriate topic -- 15 pts

Use of suggested techniques – 15 pts

Use of appropriate speaking and listening skills (in Classroom Read-Around) – 20 pts

Here are some examples of aphorisms authored by Benjamin Franklin:


Fish and visitors smell in three days.
If your head is made of wax, don’t walk in the sun.
Necessity never made a good bargain.
He that won’t be counseled, can’t be helped.
There are three things extremely hard: Steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
No gains without pains.
Diligence is the mother of good luck.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Honesty is the best policy.
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.
He that lives upon hope will die fasting.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
God heals and the doctor takes the fee.
Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
The rotten apple spoils his companions.
Lost time is never found again.
Now I have a sheep and cow, everybody bids me good morrow.
The cat in gloves catches no mice.

Make hay while the sun shines.


If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty.
He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.
He that cannot obey cannot command.
Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.
A mob’s a monster; heads enough but no brains.
Well done is better than well said.
Lost time is never found again.
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
If you would know the worth of money, go and try to borrow some.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Love your neighbor, yet don’t pull down your hedge.
God helps them that help themselves.
Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.
Don’t throw stones at your neighbors’, if your own windows are glass.
Eat to live and not live to eat.
Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.


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