Thomas Edison—America’s greatest inventor—designed and invented things that revolutionized the world around us, including sound recording and motion pictures to name a few. Some of the most inventive and creative individuals like Ambrose Fleming and Florence Nightingale were homeschooled, but was Edison?
Thomas Edison was homeschooled by his mother who was a former elementary school teacher. He did attend school for a few months as a child but in the end homeschooling was the right path for him.
You can read more below about Edison’s spectacular life, including the reason why his mom pulled him from school to provide him with a fruitful homeschool education experience.
The Poster Child of Homeschooling
Thomas Edison entered the world on February 11, 1847 to Samuel Edison and Nancy Elliott in Milan, Ohio but when he was seven the family moved to Port Huron, Michigan. Edison was the seventh and youngest child of the family.
Growing up, Edison was a very inquisitive and curious child who wanted to know a lot about everything and this is why his formal education only lasted a few months. His teacher got so impatient with him and his curiosity that she made a rather offensive comment about his brian saying that it must be “addled” (referring to his brain not being able to think properly).
The comment didn’t sit well with Edison’s mother and it was the reason why she pulled him out of school and gave him a better education at home. Nowadays, Edison is known as the poster child of homeschooling.
Being homeschooled gave Edison the freedom he craved so badly and it provided him with the opportunity to read lots. In fact, he turned into quite a bookworm and had read five pretty complicated books by the time he was 12.
The books he had read by age 12 included Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, Sears’ History of the World, Hume’s History of England, Paine’s Age of Reason, and Newton’s Principia.
As a highly independent child, Edison preferred to pay his way to buy the items he required to perform his experiments. At first he sold vegetables that were produced on his father’s farm, and then when he was 12 he bagged himself a job as a newsboy on the trains.
In 84 years Edison managed to acquire 1,093 patents which was a record number that remains to be beaten by a singular person.
For five years between 1870 and 1875, Edison worked in New Jersey where he produced telegraph related products for companies including Western Union Telegraph and its partners.
By 1877, Edison had developed the carbon transmitter, a device which improves the audio on telephones making it easier to transmit sound at higher volumes and with higher clarity. In the same year, he invented the phonograph which was an early form of the gramophone that enabled sound to be reproduced using cylinders.
In the following year, Edison started working on inventing a safe yet inexpensive electric light that would replace the traditional gaslight that existed back then. In the three years between 1879 and 1881 he made many breakthroughs with electric light bulbs and even went on to open his own lightbulb company in 1881.
In his later years, Edison built his own industrial lab which was the primary site for company research about lighting. And by 1896, Edison became the first person to project a motion picture at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall in New York City.
Throughout his inventive career, Edison received 1,093 US patents alongside another 500 or 600 that were unsuccessful or abandoned.
By the time he died in 1931, Edison was one of the most well-known and respected Americans in the world.