When it comes to the mother-child relationship, the mother is not only the caregiver but also the child’s first teacher. Each of her modes of behavior, every careful word, every movement and mannerism will build foundations for the child’s own spirit and future success. Such is the premise of this story from the life of genius scientist Thomas Edison.
The reverend and the mother
When Thomas Edison was in elementary school, he returned home from school one day with a letter from his teacher. The letter was addressed to his mother. “Your son is addled [mentally ill]. We will not allow him to attend our institution any longer,” it read.
Her eyes blurred with tears as she read the letter to herself. But with her mother’s instinct, she did not believe in what was written, and naturally decided not to give up.
Edison’s mother prepared an excellent homeschooling routine for her son, and Edison left his school behind without a second thought.
By the time Edison’s mother passed away, many years later, Edison had become one of the greatest scientific inventors of the century. Sifting through old family records and belongings one day, Edison came across a letter on browning paper, buried deep in his mother’s old closet.
It was the letter from his elementary school that Edison’s mother received many years before.
Edison sobbed for hours, before writing with conviction in his diary: “Thomas Alva Edison was an addled child, that, thanks to the heroism of his mother, became the genius of the century.”
The history behind the heroine (Thomas Edison)
According to the Economic Education Fund’s records, in the year 1854, a teacher named Reverend G. B. Engle branded a 7-year-old student, Thomas Alva Edison, a “dumb and psychotic” child. Edison never returned to Port Huron, Michigan, the first official school he attended.
His mother, Nancy Edison, journeyed to school with her son the day after receiving the letter to discuss its content with the Reverend. However, the Reverent was immovable, and Nancy Edison was angered by his rigidity.
She decided to educate her son at home, abandoning the school that Edison had attended for only three months. Records suggest that Edison also attended two other schools, each for only a short period of time, but the boy genius spent most of his childhood studying at home under the excellent tutelage of his mother.
According to the biography “Thomas Alva Edison: The Great American Inventor,” when Edison told his mother that his teacher had dismissed him as stupid and incapable, the pair sought an apology.
“My son is not retarded, this I believe,” Nancy Edison argued. Despite Edison’s mother’s assertion, the young boy’s teacher would not reconsider his verdict. Finally, Nancy Edison’s drew her own conclusion: “I’ll teach him at home, myself,” she announced.
Edison, then a shy and retiring young boy, didn’t believe his ears. He looked up at his mother, the woman who had unyielding trust and faith in his abilities, and he made a promise to himself that he would make her proud.
At the very end of his life, Edison famously quoted: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had someone to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”
Edison’s mother’s courage and constant faith in her son’s abilities made him the genius he grew up to be. With a mother’s love as true and strong as Nancy Edison’s, anything is possible.