Junto

When Benjamin Franklin was just 21 years old, he assembled a group of 12 interesting, successful, and honorable men of diverse backgrounds into a “club of mutual improvement.” They met once a week to “discuss moral, political, and scientific topics of the day” and to engage in community improvement. We will begin each meeting with the spirit of Benjamin Franklin’s Junto, as described in his autobiography.

I should have mentioned before, that, in the autumn of the preceding year, [1727] I had form’d most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the Junto; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss’d by the company; and once in three months produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased.

 

  • Each member will produce and read an essay of your own writing, on any subject you pleased, approximately once a month.
  • We will produce one or more questions on any point of morality, politics, or philosophy, to be discussed.
  • We will debate differences civilly and in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, and not because we are fond of fighting or you desire to “win” the debate. Franklin even banned “all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction.”
  • We will begin each meeting by taking a few minutes to review the Junto’s guiding questions, and discussing them, before moving on to the presentation. The guiding questions are (excerpted and adapted from Autobiography):
    • Have you read, watched, or listened to anything of value that you’d like to share?
    • Has anyone been rejected or failed at anything recently? What was the cause?
    • Has anyone succeeded in anything lately? What was the cause?
    • Have you heard about, or met, anybody who is rich? How did they become rich?
    • Is there anyone you have heard about who deserves praise? What did they attempt?
    • Have you or anyone you know lost your self-control in any area of life? What happened?
    • Have you or anyone you know gotten sick or hurt? What treatments did you try, and were they effective?
    • Have you gone on any trips? Are you planning trips? Do you know of anyone going on trips?
    • How might the Junto help this community?
    • Is there any young person who is ambitious in some endeavor, whom this Junto could help??
    • Has anyone, in the school, community, or elsewhere, had their rights violated? What can the Junto do to help?
    • Is there any successful or helpful person whom you would like to meet?
    • Have you stood up for anybody lately – bullies, gossip, etc.?
    • How can this Junto help you in your good deeds?
    • Is there anything you are struggling with in your life right now that the Junto may help with?
    • Has anyone helped you who is not here, and what can we do to thank them?
    • Is there a project that you wish to complete, and would like the Junto’s help?
    • Are there any problems with the Junto that we can address now?
  • A published newsletter is a natural, but not required, extension of the Junto.

 

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