Albert Einstein is one of the most revered figures in the scientific world, having achieved a level of fame and admiration few physicists can boast of. With such success, it is only natural to be curious about how Einstein came to be.
One interesting detail to explore is whether Albert Einstein was home educated. In this article, we take a closer look at this question, exploring the evidence for and against Einstein’s home schooling.
1. Early Education
When it comes to Einstein’s early education, many sources point to evidence that suggests Einstein was schooled at home. For instance, according to the discovery channel’s website, Einstein’s parents chose to home school him from 1883-1889 after experiencing unsatisfactory conditions and lack of quality instruction in their local schools. This suggests he may have been home educated in some form.
On the other hand, when examining his paper Europe and my Classmates, which was written in 1888 when he was only 13, it appears Einstein may have had some formal education as well. In the paper, he mentions his studies in algebra, geometry and physics, which he implies as being taught by a school master.
This indicates some form of attendance at a formal facility. The evidence, however, indicates that in his early years he may have had some home schooling supplemented by occasional attendance at the local secondary school.
2. Mid Education
Einstein’s schooling during what could be considered his middle schooling years is more difficult to ascertain. However, due to his obvious mathematical and scientific aptitude, it is likely that he was privately tutored in these subjects.
The family also could have employed a governess or instructor as well, although this is impossible to confirm. His father, Mr. Einstein, was a self-made man and was driven by the dream that his son might become a successful professional, so it is assumed that he must have taken steps to ensure that his son was educated in the fields he would need.
This could potentially have been done by facilitating tutoring in the home or via a personal instruction. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that he may have attended a private secondary school. A letter from 1895, allegedly written by Einstein himself, appears to confirm his attendance at a Swiss secondary school.
This could have been done to supplement the home instruction.
3. Late Education
Moving into his late education years, it appears clear that Einstein was no longer home educated. By the age of 16, Einstein was attending the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Institute in Zurich, Switzerland and was a boarding student. However, the lack of traditional secondary schooling may have caused Einstein to struggle in many of the light subjects he was taught at the university.
This could very well have been caused by his homeschooling. His physics and mathematical skills were so far ahead of the other students for his age that he was able to cover the course material at an accelerated rate.
Einstein himself recognized the importance of home education and often credited his mother for her large part in teaching him math and physics as a child, stating that her teaching was the difference between him achieving and not achieving. This suggests he may have been home schooled extensively in those subjects.
4. Opinions on the Matter
It is difficult to ascertain with confidence whether Albert Einstein was definitively home educated. After examining the evidence, however, opinions vary as to the role of home education in his own schooling.
Many educators and scientists argue that as long as a child can be taught the essentials at home, he or she can achieve the same level of success as any other student at a traditional school. This is largely due to the fact that Albert Einstein was exceptionally bright and advanced for his age, and the advanced schooling he obtained at home may have been the reason for his success. On the other hand, other scientists argue that the lack of traditional secondary schooling may have caused Einstein to suffer in many of the non-science fields he was taught at the university.
This could very well have been caused by his homeschooling and may have been the reason for his struggles in some subjects.
5. Was Einstein Home Educated for Long?
There is evidence to suggest that Albert Einstein may have been home educated for some time but it is difficult to tell exactly how long. Most sources point to his early education years, but due to the lack of records it’s hard to be certain. Some argue that the family may have used a combination of tutors skilled in various subjects, occasional attendance at a formal school, and home instruction to develop the young Einstein’s intellect and interests.
However, the true extent of his homeschooling experience is still not known for certain.
6. Why Home Educated?
Albert Einstein is widely known for being an intellectual giant, but it is widely speculated that his intellectual prowess is partly due to being home educated. Many academics and scientists have attributed some of Einstein’s success to being home educated. This is because it allows for a more individualized and flexible learning environment.
Home educated children can explore topics that interest them the most, without the pressure of the traditional school environment. It is no coincidence that when Einstein was home educated, he was able to explore topics such as physics and mathematics, which would later become his life-long pursuit.
This would have been much harder to do in a traditional setting due to the pressure to conform to curriculums and lagging instruction.
7. Family as Educators
Another advantage to being home educated is the involvement of family members. Albert Einstein grew up in a supportive and encouraging family, with both his father and mother playing a role in his home education. His mother personally taught him mathematics and physics, while his father instilled in him a sense of ambition and lifelong learnings.
Insights from historical records indicate that home education was seen as a way for Einstein to develop strong mathematical and scientific skills. This may be why the family chose home education for their child.
8. Home School Regulations
Home schooling regulations and requirements differ from country to country and also, time periods. This can also be seen in Albert Einstein’s time, as compulsory education was much different in Switzerland during the 19th century. At that time, Switzerland required children to attend school for at least four years.
This could explain why Einstein did attend the local school in his early years, even though he was mainly home educated. However, due to the lack of comprehensive records, it is difficult to tell exactly how the Einstein family managed to simultaneously satisfy both home schooling requirements and the country’s educational laws.
9. Evolution of Home Schooling
In the 1900s, home schooling had become more accepted in most countries and laws began to change to accommodate the practice. This was seen as a significant step towards the advancement of home schooling and educators. This shift in legislation could have made it easier for the Einstein family to take their son out of the local school and pursue a home schooling approach.
This may have played a role in the progression of the young Einstein, who was already developing strong mathematical and scientific skills.
10. Social and Cultural Effects of Home Education
Being home educated isn’t only an educational journey; in addition, it requires certain social and cultural traits. Einstein’s family gave him the opportunity to explore a variety of different topics, as well as the freedom to do what he liked. They also provided their son with the opportunity to observe the world around him and assimilate and internalize the knowledge he gained.
Einstein’s nurturing environment helped him to develop his logical thinking, results-oriented personality, and the ability to self-assess his learning and adapt his studies accordingly. This is said to be one of the more valuable aspects of being home educated, and one of the most important factors in Albert Einstein’s success.
11. How Successful?
It is difficult to measure the success of Albert Einstein’s home schooling experience. However, there is no doubt that the combination of home schooling and tutor-based instruction allowed him to explore the topics that interested him the most. By pursuing topics such as physics, mathematics and philosophy at an early age and on his own terms, Einstein was able to develop an intellectual dexterity and scientific insight that would later beget his fame and success.
This relies largely on the support of his family and the freedom of self-learning provided by home-schooling.
12. Alternatives to Home Education
While home-schooling could have been a great aid in helping Albert Einstein develop into the scientist he was, it is important to note that there are alternatives to home-schooling. Many parents choose to send their children to regular schools where they can benefit from the social aspect and traditional instruction.
There are also online schools and classes available for children who wish to pursue a more flexible form of education. Such methods are often advantageous for those looking as sign their children up for specialized classes in areas such as science and mathematics.
All in all, there is evidence to suggest that Albert Einstein was likely home-educated in some form in his early years. Information on his schooling during his mid to late years is more difficult to ascertain, but it appears clear that he did attend some form of school.
Due to the lack of records and the difficulty in measuring success, it is impossible to conclusively say how much of a role home-schooling played in the development of Albert Einstein’s intelligence and success. However, it is safe to assume that the flexible, personalized instruction he received at home may have been a large contributor.