As a child, he was considered strange, mentally challenged, and downright rebellious. A maid called him “dopey,” a headmaster predicted certain failure through his lifetime, and another headmaster kicked him right out of school.
His parents brought him to the doctor, worried about his developmental delays in speech as a young boy. He was a day dreamer, a loner, and a cheeky little rebel. His contempt for authority, his struggles with language, his poor school performance, and his odd social behaviors might not have inspired those around him to assume great things for his future, but young Albert Einstein, kept wondering, imagining, pushing, and self-expressing anyway. When his heart called him to math, science and nature, he trusted and followed with unfiltered abandon.
Today, of course, he is regarded as “the most creative scientific genius of modern times,” his name practically synonymous with intellectual brilliance.
This week in SKOOL, the kids and I took turns discussing how history might have been changed had young Einstein bought into the finite impressions of those around him…those who could not see his potential through the limitations of their own worldview. His life’s work was used by others for both progress and (to his horror) destruction, but his existence generally altered humanity for the better.
Mid-talk, my daughter, Kenzie, suddenly got an awe-inspired look on her face.😃 “Mom,” she said, “if Einstein had let those adults decide what he could do, we wouldn’t even know he existed. Then…what would we even be talking about right now?!” Seven-year-old’s mind blown.
Yes, history makers leave incalculable ripples through space and time, and now, 61 years after his passing, Einstein’s life is reminding my kids to be true to themselves, be resilient in the face of criticism, and to embrace their God-given quirks.
It’s natural to worry when our children fail to fit in to predetermined boxes of normalcy, but it can also be beneficial to remember that perhaps they aren’t really meant to. While the job of raising them can be crazy making, history NEEDS disrupters, or progress wouldn’t be possible. Shouldn’t our kids be encouraged then to accept the parts of themselves that are weird and unusual to the existing world? Today, no matter how difficult, I vow to celebrate the unique quirks and challenges that each of my children bring to the table, to hold a space for their inner genius to emerge in the world.
What might your own kids learn from a thought-provoking discussion on young Einstein’s childhood? Share, and see! Here are three questions around which our conversations revolved:
1. How might the world be different if Einstein had accepted the disempowering opinions of others as a child?
2. Is there a secret inner “weirdo” you wish you could unleash in the world sometimes? If the opinions of others didn’t matter, how would it feel to just be yourself fully in that area?
3. Why do you think Einstein considered imagination more important than knowledge?
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