Thomas Edison (2)


When you’ve exhausted [tried] all the possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.  

Thomas Edison 


Telegraph machine


Some of Thomas Edison’s first light bulbs.


• The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

• If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound [amaze] ourselves.

• Your worth consists in what you are, and not in what you have.

• Most people who fail did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

Thomas Edison


§ STORY SUBJECT: There is no such thing as failure. There is learning, learning, learning.

WHEN Thomas Edison was 11 years old, he was sent home from school—forever! His teachers said he was “stupid” and “difficult”.  They said he would never succeed. They told his mother he could not come back to school.  But Thomas’s mother did not believe them and she never told her son that the teachers said he was stupid.  She told him that he was intelligent. But Thomas had other problems too. He was often very sick and he could not hear well.  His family was poor. 

     Thomas’s mother began to teach him at home. She did more than teach him science, math and history. She helped him think. Thanks to his mother, he was not afraid to think “big ideas”.  He was not afraid to have new ideas even when people said his ideas were crazy and laughed at him. There is also something else—something very important—that his mother taught him: not to be afraid of failing. In fact, Thomas did not think there was such a thing as failure!  He said that everything was a chance to learn.  

     One day when he was 16, he was working at a railroad station selling news papers. Suddenly, he saw a child fall on to the train tracks.  A train was coming.  Thomas jumped onto the tracks and saved the child.  The child’s father was so grateful, that he taught Thomas how to work the telegraph machine [see photo] and gave him a job. It was a machine that sent messages by using simple codes instead of words. The machine was hard to learn, but Thomas learned very quickly. This was Thomas’s first time working with machines and electricity.  He loved both. He started to learn how things work—and how to make them better.

     From the time Thomas was 25 years old, until he was 40, he had invented over 400 things!  He invented the first phonograph [a record player to play music]. He invented a motion picture camera to make films. He even invented a talking doll!  His most famous invention was improving a light bulb so it would burn a long time. He invented the wire part of a light bulb called a “filament”. To improve this one little part he tried more than 1,600 materials (paper, thread, sheep wool, hair, fishing wire)!  He wrote more than 40,000 pages of notes about what he was learning. Some say he tried more than 3,000 times until he found a filament that would burn a long time. The exact number of times is not really known. But there is one thing we do know: he did not give up.  He believed in himself. And remember? His mother taught him not to be afraid of making mistakes, but to learn from them. That is why he succeeded.

     When Thomas Edison’s mother died, he found a letter in her desk. It was the letter Thomas Edison’s teacher wrote to his mother when he was a boy saying that he was stupid. Thomas cried when he read the letter. Thanks to his mother, he proved that he was not stupid. He was one of the greatest people and inventors of all times.

     What can we learn from Thomas Edison?  What do you think?     

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