Day 20: From “Slow Learner” to World Changer. A Peek at Thomas Edison.

31 days final big button

Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Thomas Edison? That’s what I thought. All of us. But Edison may have died in obscurity save for a loving mother who had more common sense and insight than the professional educators who labeled him as “addled.” A poor student, Edison’s teachers accused him of being too slow and too curious. Apparently he asked a lot of questions.

So at the age of 12, Edison’s mother had the good sense to remove him from school and teach him at home. The rest is history. Literally. Edison’s insatiable curiosity for the world of how things work led him to secure 1,093 patents, including the automatic telegraph and the first commercially viable electric lightbulb.

Edison’s inventions changed the world.


Of his mother, Edison said many years later,

My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint.

Clearly, Mrs. Edison was a mother who thought outside the box, who challenged convention because it was failing her own child in a big way. I like to think that young Thomas inherited her sense of questioning the status quo and pursuing new and better ways.

From Edison and his mother, we’re inspired to embrace the potential of a child’s curiosity and to never underestimate the privilege and responsibility we’ve been given to help make our children who they will one day be. This is both terrifying and empowering isn’t it? But throughout the ages, God has given mothers and fathers wisdom to see in our children what others may overlook.

Sometimes this requires teaching our unconventional child at home or finding a school that has a place for the unique way his mind works.

Sometimes this means community action that bears fruit for all the children, not just our own.

Always it means this — we need to slow down long enough to pay attention, to notice the becoming, and to ask what we can do to open wide the door of possibility for children.


Do you know a person of influence with a unique educational background?

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here.

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