Saturday, March 06, 2010

A wise lesson indeed.

Photo of Benjamin Franklin credited to the National Archives.
Yesterday I was proud of Brock and several other students that attend school with him. They had competed in an elementary speech meet a week ago and the those who placed in the top of their classes were able to share their speeches/poems in front of a larger audience of students, teachers, parents and friends. It is something they do each year and it's actually one of things Brock looks forward to doing- which is surprising since public speaking isn't normally something kids {or even many adults!} like to do.
This year Brock chose a piece from the category "Presidential Orations". There were several options in this category including Martin Luther King's "I Had a Dream" speech and Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address. The challenging part of this event isn't just that the kids perform in front of their classes, but their piece must be given from memory. Their final score is judged on several things including how many helps they need, presence and rate/volume of speaking. Being a college graduate in communications, I happen to really like that their school encourages such a challenge for young students and even though it is scary and intimidating for many of the kids, I just think there is such value in such an event.
That's a long preface to basically tell you that I was proud of Brock and all the other kids who stood up and gave their speeches a second time yesterday. Some were cool and confident, while others were well-rehearsed, but clearly were not entirely comfortable in front of the crowd. The best part of it all is to hear the poems, Scriptures and parables retold from the voices of our next generation. I don't think there is anything wrong with feeling pride for their hard work and their willingness to be vulnerable and put in the spotlight- and that's just how I felt for all of them. Proud.
So {this is mainly for my parents who are proud of Brock too but didn't get to hear his speech yesterday} I am sharing Brock's speech selection here with you all today. I love that he is enamored with American History and that he challenged himself to learn several new vocabulary words in order to do a good job on this piece. We had some good discussions about what the lesson in this story meant for Benjamin Franklin and how it still is relevant for many of us today. I love that someone's life lesson which occured over 200 years ago still touches and impacts lives in 2010. Without further ado, I give Benjamin Franklin's life lesson called, "The Whistle". I hope you enjoy it too!
"The Whistle"
When I was a child of seven years old, my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children; and being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers, and sisters, and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money; and laughed at me so much for my folly, that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.
This, however, was afterwards of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind; so that often, when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don’t give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.
As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.
When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends, to attain it, I have said to myself, this man gives too much for his whistle.
When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, "He pays, indeed," said I, "too much for his whistle."
If I knew a miser, who gave up every kind of comfortable living, all the pleasure of doing good to others, all the esteem of his fellow-citizens, and the joys of benevolent friendship, for the sake of accumulating wealth, "Poor man," said I, "you pay too much for your whistle."
When I met with a man of pleasure, sacrificing every laudable improvement of the mind, or of his fortune, to mere corporal sensations, and ruining his health in their pursuit, "Mistaken man," said I, "you are providing pain for yourself, instead of pleasure; you give too much for your whistle."
If I see one fond of appearance, or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts, and ends his career in a prison, "Alas!" say I, "he has paid dear, very dear, for his whistle."
When I see a beautiful sweet-tempered girl married to an ill-natured brute of a husband, "What a pity," say I, "that she should pay so much for a whistle!"
In short, I conceive that great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things, and by their giving too much for their whistles.
Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that, with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction, I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.


Anonymous said...

That's quite the speech! I'm impressed by the vocabulary and length. Hope you're family is all staying healthy too.

Abbie said...

Very wise indeed - how often do I find something that has cost me much in money, time or energy is not worth it? Hopefully, I'll be remembering this story!

Grandma Karen said...

Grandma Karen and Grandpa John were lucky enough to hear Brock pratice his reading while we visited. He did a very good job even if it was his practice. How did Bella do? We thought she was very good also.