Thursday, October 6, 2016

Writing prompt: What if?

Have you ever stopped to wonder how the world would be different if you altered the life of one person in history?

On October 6, 1723, Benjamin Franklin arrived in Philadelphia at the age of 17, after spending his early life in Boston, where he was born.

Writing assignment: What if Benjamin Franklin had never been born?

Would someone else have made his scientific discoveries and improvements instead? Would the lightning rod or the bifocal glasses have taken the same successful roads if invented and improved somewhere else? 

Who would have taken his place on the Committee of Five which drafted the Declaration of Independence. History credits Franklin with some of the changes that went into that document. What would be different if he hadn't been there?

What would have changed if Franklin had not been the first Postmaster General of the United States?

If someone else had been America's ambassador to France during the Revolution would France's  policy have been the same?

Would Philadelphia's first fire department and the University of Pennsylvania look any different?

We'll never know the answers to these questions because Benjamin Franklin did, in fact, follow the path he followed. Yet it makes for a very interesting writing prompt, particularly for students familiar with Franklin's place in early U.S. history.

As a side note, this writing assignment is easily adapted to fit any particular time in history. What if Hitler had become an artist? What if Pasteur hadn't been encouraged by personal experiences to study infectious diseases?

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