Thomas Alva Edison grew up in the age of the one room schoolhouse. Children of all ages were taught together in one school room. They had one teacher who taught them all subjects. The school which Edison attended for a brief 12 weeks was just such a place. He was only 7 years old and there were 11 different age groups being taught there. 38 students in all taught by one teacher.
This teacher had too much on his plate to deal with the precocious 7 year old and instead of trying, he decided to label him as “addled” (a word meaning mentally confused or the 19th century equivalent of being called retarded.) because of his unusually shaped head. Edison’s mother withdrew him from school as soon as she learned of his troubles and taught him at home. Since Thomas was the youngest of 7 children, it was not an affinity for public schooling which prompted Edison’s homeschooling but an inability on the part of the public school teacher to see Edison’s true worth. Unfortunately this is more often than not the case, even in today’s schools, when it comes to those who are truely gifted as Edison was.
Although Edison’s mother had the more literal role of teacher in Edison’s life, teaching him the basics of Reading Writing and Arithmetic, his father was no less involved in Edison’s education. While his mother was teaching him the basics, his father encouraged him to read classic literature. Both of these helped to inspire and feed his insatiable thirst for knowledge. This thirst would eventually become too great for his parents alone to answer. At the age of 11, Edison’s parents encouraged him to peruse the local library since his appetite for learning was outgrowing what they themselves could teach. Eventually they had to hire a tutor to explain some of the more complex mathematical and scientific principles which Edison was becoming interested in.
As you no doubt already know, Thomas Edison is most famous for his groundbreaking invention of the incandescent light bulb. However this is only one of his many accomplishments in life. He got his first job at the age of 12 delivering newspapers. He learned how to operate a printing press and had his own small newspaper by the age of 14. Before he was 21 years of age he’d done more with his life than most people do in a lifetime.
Edison was very grateful to his mother who never lost faith in him. He credited her above all else for the man he became.