Every one of us must have heard about the great scientist Thomas Alva Edison and his wonderful inventions in the world of science. In 1958, this great scientist, Noble laureate, inventor of more than a thousand instruments and gadgets and one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century, was just an eleven-year-old ineligible and feeble-minded student in the eyes of his teachers. He was behind his fellows in every field and subject.
A high Pyrexial stroke had impaired Edison’s hearing capability and left him with semi deafness. Edison used to enjoy his own world without paying any attention to others’ opinions about him. He always used to think about uncommon and strange things.
Once Edison saw a sparrow eating small worms and insects near the roots of a tree. While watching this event thoughtfully, he jumped upon the conclusion that perhaps the flying of a sparrow is related to the eating of worms. A thought came to his mind — if humans also ate worms, they might fly like birds.
In order to give a practical shape to his thought, he collected some insects in a bottle and prepared soup from them. He gave this soup to one of his friends and the results were bad. He was rebuked and was termed diffident, which further shattered his self-confidence.
After a few months, his principal gave him a closed letter and asked him to give it to his mother. He gave the letter to his mother and while she was reading it, he was curiously looking at her to know its content. She gave him a gentle smile and told him that they had written that he was a genius; the teachers weren’t good enough to teach him and had requested her to teach him home.
Listening to these admirable words about himself for the first time in his life, Edison became happy. He felt a wave of strong will power and self-confidence in himself. Now his mother started working on him and started teaching him herself at home. It was not an easy task, yet, she didn’t lose her hope.
Edison was not from an economically well off family. So he used to sell books and newspapers on the train besides studying to help his father. In this way, he, while helping his father, slowly crossed all the barriers in his way. And one day, this self-studying child rocked the world of science and became one of the most famous scientists in the world.
He invented many useful things like transmitter-receiver for the automatic telegraph, megaphone, sound recorder, gramophone, etc. The credit for inventing the electric bulb also goes to Edison. During the invention of the electric bulb, he failed a thousand times in his experiments. But every time he failed, his mother’s words, “your son is genius”, struck him, and he finally succeeded.
The next day, he gave this bulb to his employee in the presence of other people to install it and to test it. Unfortunately, it fell out of his hands and broke. Instead of rebuking him, he worked hard to prepare a new one and the next day gave it to the same employee for the test. The employee installed it successfully with full confidence and the whole room was lit.
On asking why he gave it to the same employee who broke it yesterday, Edison replied that if he had not given it to him for installation, his self-confidence would have shattered, and he never wanted that.
During his 84 years of life, Edison continuously invented new things for the service of humanity and is listed as one of the greatest scientists in the world.
One evening while searching for some documents, he found an old torn paper in his almirah. It was the same letter his principal had given him. On reading it, tears came down his eyes when he read, “…your child is extremely feeble-minded and mentally weak. We can’t keep him in our school, so we request you to teach him at home”. That night Edison penned down the magnificent words in his diary, “Thomas Alva Edison was a mentally weak child, but his mother developed self-confidence in him and made him a genius.”
Let’s always remember that self-confidence made Edison do wonders in the world of science instead of being labelled as ineligible and feeble-minded. Teachers and parents must learn from this story that they should never rebuke their children for getting low marks in an examination; rather, they should be encouraged. No child should be labelled as weak or ineligible as God has bestowed every human being with some quality.
A child can lose their self-confidence on being called unsuccessful and useless, resulting in many psychological disorders. They will never discover their positive aspects and things hidden inside them by our negative reaction towards them.
Failure does not mean a person cannot excel in his life; rather, it has been said that failures are pillars of success. Let’s learn from Edison’s mother and try to develop self-confidence in our children as it is the key to success. Let’s play our role as a teacher or as a parent in an artistic way and try to make our children build themselves because our children are our future.
We all should properly guide our younger generation and counsel them whenever we find them perplexed or frustrated. Guidance and counselling are of utmost importance for developing self-confidence in our youth.
The author is a columnist and teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org