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Thank goodness Albert Einstein wasn’t unschooled!

Post · Jan 16, 2019 ·

“Albert Einstein went through the school system, and the rest is history. Can you imagine how different the story might have been if his parents had kept him at home and tried to teach him advanced mathematics? The idea is crazy…the world may never have seen his genius. Sure, most kids aren’t Albert Einstein – but parents can’t really teach what their children will need when they get start getting older.”

Here are some tidbits on Einstein:

???? He did indeed attend school.

???? He hated the experience – he clashed with authority, and stated that he felt the spirit of learning and creative thought wasn’t possible in a rote-oriented schooling environment. He saw little value in what was being taught to him, which was interpreted by his teachers as him being “…mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.”

???? Most of his advanced education came from his own self-directed learning. Seriously – he taught himself algebra and Euclidean geometry over the summer when he was 12. He had a tutor, of course – a smart, dedicated, one-to-one tutor – but he openly admitted to not being able to keep up with young Albert. His tutor didn’t teach him – he facilitated learning (in matters of Einstein’s choosing).

???? That 12th year was a busy one for him – he also, just casually, discovered his own original proof of the Pythagorean theorem.

???? He started teaching himself calculus at 12, and considered both integral and differential mastered by the time he was 14.

???? At the age of 16 he took the entrance exams for the Swiss Federal Polytechnic – obviously, he crushed the physics and mathematics components. But he actually failed the general part of the exam. That is, the stuff he was learning in school but not exploring deeply on his own.

???? He actually spent a lot of time playing with blocks and construction model sets, learning the violin, and letting both his body and mind wander in nature.

It was Albert Einstein’s curiosity that set him on such an immense path of discovery. He’d taken hold of his own learning by about the age of 10 and, by all accounts, advanced at such a rate in spite of school.

So yes, I agree that Einstein went to school. But I don’t agree that school got him to where he ended up. He was heading there regardless, on his own stubborn steam – and maybe all those hours spent in a classroom actually slowed him down.

So let’s agree to disagree on the idea of Einstein’s genius being dulled if he’d been educated at home. And let’s agree to disagree that his parents not understanding and being able to teach him advanced mathematics would have been a problem.

What we can agree on, I’m sure, is the power and strength of the human spirit. Of curiosity. Of determination. Albert Einstein certainly did.

“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

— AE.

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