Ben Franklin’s Bucket Brigades

July 15, 2008


by Tammy Drennan


Benjamin Franklin knew how to tackle a problem: Read and study, think hard, talk and write to other people in the know, get together a group for the specific purpose of exploring the issues, take action.


I got to thinking how this might work for the cause of freedom in education. Let’s say you’re a pastor or an inner city parent or just someone with a burden for freedom… You might start by making a list of books that you should read. Then you might call up a handful of like-minded people and ask if you can get together once a week or twice a month to hash out the issue of making independent education a reality. Your group might agree to read the same book for discussion, invite a guest speaker, and start a list of potential actions. It might even set a date for action.


Actions might include starting a study hall or resource library for homeschoolers or sponsoring one at-risk student or starting a school or starting a mentoring program for new homeschoolers or a tutoring service for poor families.


In his book The Success Principles, Jack Canfield talks about how he and Mark Victor Hansen set out to market their Chicken Soup books. They came up with a list of 1000 things they could do to sell books. Since that was overwhelming, they committed themselves to each accomplishing five things a day. A big list gives you a lot to work with. Smaller goals ensure that the list will not languish on your desk top. A group of people dedicated to a specific goal helps motivate all involved to take action.


Ben Franklin had his philosophical society and his scientific society and his bucket brigades. We might begin a Society for Independent Education. Or we could call it an Alliance or Partnership or Co-op or Fellowship or Pastors/ Parents/ Friends/ Students United for Independent Education. Or an Independent Education Brigade.


But first the list. I would start with the people… a list of others willing to join the effort. Then I think I’d schedule a meeting and ask someone knowledgeable to speak – maybe someone who runs a private school, someone with practical experience. Then I’d invite another person and another. We’d read some books and do a lot of talking – and keep a growing list of ideas and possibilities. Finally, we would choose an item or a few items from our list and we’d go for it.


I’m starting my list right now. How about you?