Remember in elementary school when we had to do those biographies?

Well, even if you don’t, I do.

1st grade, I did Albert Einstein.

2nd grade, I did him again. I think.

3rd grade I did Andrew Carnegie.

4th grade I did Grover Cleveland.

5th grade I did George H.W. Bush.

We didn’t do one in sixth grade, as I recall.

I didn’t question the purposes of doing these biographies as a child. I just figured,  “more busywork for busy people.”

But now, as I reflect on the past… I can recall things about each person. Well, except for Albert Einstein. I remember the presentation very clearly, though. I had a wig and I cut out a piece of it as a mustache. It fell off halfway through. We made clay bowls soon afterward and I remember Tucker scratched “E=MC2” on the bottom of his and the clay person thought it was mine because she knew I did Albert Einstein.

Andrew Carnegie’s father’s linen business failed while Andrew was a child. They lived in poverty for a long time, having recently come over from Ireland. Carnegie eventually dominated the steel industry, making millions of dollars. 90% of that went to charity. Apparently he was the first to open a library, too, but I don’t think that’s right anymore.

Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president. Coca-Cola was invented during his second term. He had to get secret surgery on the roof of his mouth because he had cancer.

George H.W. (Herbert Walker) Bush had two notable sons: George and John. One of his daughters died of leukemia. During WWII he worked on an aircraft carrier.


Tell me, what was the point of all that?


Two and a half years later and having read this draft… I now know. They had us look at famous people so we could model their lives after them. They want us to look at their traits of perseverance. Of classiness. Their success. It’s easier to tell a child to have a child follow in a major historical figure’s footsteps than to just tell him to have perseverance.

Clever, schools. Clever.



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