Albert Einstein at School is an extract from the biography of Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist. It throws light on the basic nature of the young boy.
Einstein’s history teacher Braun asked him in what year the Prussians had defeated the French at Waterloo. He respectfully replied that he did not know. Mr. Braun further asked him if he ever tried to learn it. Einstein told him that he did not see any point in learning dates, one could always look them up in a book. He said that he did not think learning facts was education. He thought it was not facts that mattered but ideas. Mr. Braun’s eyes grew cold and cruel. He asked Einstein to stay in for an extra period. He called it disgrace and told him to ask his father to take him away. But Albert knew that his father would ask him to stay until he had taken the diploma.
He felt miserable as he knew that his father had so little money to spare that Albert had to live in a room in one of the poorest quarters in Munich. He did not mind bad food, lack of comfort and even the dirt and squalor, but he hated the slum violence. The land lady used to beat children regularly and she herself was beaten up by her husband who came drunk on Saturdays.
Albert doubted if he would ever pass the exam. He was much intelligent than most of the boys. He was supposed to only repeat in the exam what he was taught. But his problem was that he was no good at learning things. His interests were different. There was little science at school, still he was studying a book on Geology. His interest lay in Science. Apart from studying Science his only other hobby was music. He played the violin regularly. He told his friend Yuri that it was absurd that he should go on like this. In the end it would turn out that he had been wasting his father’s money and everyone’s time. It would be better for all if he stopped that.
Albert asked Yuri if he knew any friendly doctors who might declare that he had a nervous breakdown and it was bad for him to go to school. Yuri suggested to him the name of Dr. Ernest Weil.
Albert met the doctor, who understood Albert’s problem and agreed to certify the same. But he wanted to know what Albert would do next.
Albert replied he would go to Milan where his parents were. There he would seek admission in some Italian college. Albert was certain of getting help from his Maths teacher. He had learnt all the Maths that they taught at school and even more. Dr. Weil handed him a certificate and wished him best of luck.
Albert was summoned to the head teacher’s room. The head teacher told Albert, to his surprise, that his work had been terrible and he was not prepared to have him there any longer. He wanted him to leave the school. Einstein asked if it was an expulsion. The head teacher replied that if he went of his own accord, the question won’t arise. The charge against him was that he was on constant rebellion and made it impossible for teacher to teach and the other children to learn. Albert told him that he himself was going to leave any way.
He walked out of the school where he had spent five miserable years.