Skip to comments.Nancy Edison- Homeschooling Pioneer Woman
Posted on 05/14/2006 10:51:17 AM PDT by Clintonfatigued
Those familiar with the life of Thomas Edison remember the story of how he left school. Edison didn't do well in school. He particularly disliked math and had difficulty sitting still and paying attention. He constantly drifted in and out of daydreams. He was impulsive, and his persistant questioning and inability to be quiet and wait for instructions exasperated the strict teachers. One day, the schoolmaster, Reverand G. B. Engle, belittled young Thomas Edison as being "addled." Young Thomas was so outraged, he walked out of school and stormed home (something that could get a student arrested today). He complained to his concerned mother about his treatment, and the next day, she accompanied him to speak to the schoolmaster. But the neeting didn't go well. The reverand stuck by his remark and claimed that her son could not and would not learn. The petite, normally mild-mannered mother had some choice words for the reverand for that remark. That day, she stormed out of school with him and decided that she would educate herself. And, though nobody knew it at the time, this was the beginning of Thomas Edison's life of accomplishment.
The Edison family wasn't a wealthy family. Though not destitute, they were a working class family who had to stretch their budget. And they weren't people of means. The former Nancy Elliott had been an accomplished teacher for a short time, but she wasn't a professor or anyone of title.
But the loving and devoted mother was more than up to the task. In raising her child, she found that he had an amazing ability for reasoning and comprehension. And she felt that he had something inside himself that his detractors (often including his father) were just missing. She vowed that she use her own abilities and understanding of him to bring out the best her bright but unusual son could be.
In her briefly observing the school at work, she disliked what she saw. Although the school was church-run, its structure adhered closely to the new, Prussian created public schools (then called common schools) that had been intruduced to the nation. The way that all the lessons were forced on the students particularly appalled her.
As a result of his mother's choice to sacrafice her own time and schedule to teach her child, he wound up being better educated than most American children of his time (and of present days, as well). There were two factors in that. First of all, Nancy Edison was a more devoted, concerned, and dedicated teacher than anyone else could possibly been. But just as important, she had the creativity and flexibility to try out unorthodox approaches to instructing her son, even when it was at odds with the traditional schooling approach. Matthew Josephson, author of a very good Edison biography, wrote, "Her son had the impression she kept him home, as he said, partly 'because she lived his very presence.' She taught him not only the three R's, but 'the love and purpose of learning...she implanted in his mind the love of learning.' " It adds, "In this case, the remarkable mother gave the boy sympathetic understanding that bred confidence. She avoided forcing or prodding and made an effort to engage his interest by reading him works of good literature and history that she had learned to love--and she was said to have been a fine reader...While immature and ill-disciplined in some respects, had was advanced in others and soon became a very rapid reader." As Dr. Lucy Jo Palladino points out, "She made a deliberate decision to difine her son by his strengths, not his weaknesses."
The key moment was when Nancy Edison introduced her son to the book "School of Natural Philosophy,", by R. G. Parker. The young boy was captivated by the book, which taught how to perform chemestry experiments at home. He proceeded to perform every experiment in the book. She then bought him, "The Dictionary of Science," and soon science became Thomas Edison's passion. And this is how it was begun.
Edison later recalled, "My mother was the making of me. She understood me; she let me follow my bent. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint."
In this case, the hand that rocked the cradle changed the world.
IMHO, Nancy Edison is an inspiring Mother's Day story. She could even be a role model for mothers who homeschool their children.
Excellent post ping
quite an amazing story about a mother on mother's day
his stubborn determination led him to succeed(and fail as you pointed out). read the original post, he must've got it from his mother.
Thanks very much!
Clearly, it was from his mother that he inherited his knack for creative thinking and seeking new ways of doing things. She was highly intelligent herself and displayed creative and unorthodox thinking in her approaches to schooling him.
All true, but the post basically sez Edison wasn't "nice". And that may be a sin, dontcha know?
awe come on now, your gonna go and hurt my delicate sensibilities... :)
You've gotten off track. This is the story about how a good mother, ,with flexibility and good material, can do a better job of educating her children than a second-rate school.
There's no denying that Thomas Edison had his flaws.
I am not denying the what a good mother can do.
I am tired of people holding Edison up as such a perfect example of American ingenuity.
Would Jesus do?
Good point, but it had ceased to be the norm when she took it up. Yet she was willing to go against the norm and take up her bright but unusual son's education herself.
It is worth noting that Nancy Edison herself was of high intelligence, well above average. Nevertheless, IMHO there is a valuable lesson to be learned from her example.
Somehow overlooked your first ping; glad you pinged me again.
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