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Albert Einstein at School Chapter Sketch
This biographical piece discusses the childhood of Albert Einstein, the famous physicist. The chapter starts with Einstein’s disagreement on rote learning with his history teacher. Einstein wanted to get away from the system of education followed in Munich. So he decided to get a doctor’s certificate declaring that he has had a nervous breakdown and needs rest for six months. Only his maths teacher admired Einstein for his brilliance. But before Einstein,could get an appointment with the head teacher to present the certificate, he was asked by the head teacher to leave the school due to poor conduct. So he felt happy on leaving.
Albert Einstein at School Summary
Einstein in History Class
The narrative begins with Einstein being asked by his history teacher, Mr Braun, about the year in which the Prussians defeated the French at Waterloo. Einstein frankly replied that he did not remember and he didn’t see any point in learning dates. Mr Braun was amazed that Einstein didn’t believe in learning facts. According to him, learning facts was essential to education. However, Einstein did not believe that learning facts is education. This enraged Mr Braun who asked Einstein to share his theory of education.
Einstein’s Theory of Education
Albert, shyly, states that education should be about ideas and not facts. He elaborates that instead of dates of battles or any other fact, he will be interested in learning why the soldiers were trying to kill each other.
Mr Braun was shocked and furious. He did not agree with Einstein’s views on education. He punished Einstein by asking him to stay for an extra period in school. He also told Einstein that he was a disgrace to the school and an ungrateful boy who ought to be ashamed of himself. The teacher suggested Einstein to call his father to take him away.
Einstein’s Hatred for the School and the Slum
Einstein felt miserable as he knew he had to come to school the next day again. He wanted his father to take him away but knew that his father wouldn’t do so until Einstein got his school diploma. In addition to school, the place where he lived also added to his misery. Einstein’s father was poor and so, Einstein could only find a room in the poor corner of Munich. Einstein did not care for comfort or dirt around his home but hated the atmosphere of slum violence. His landlady beat her children and every Saturday her husband came home drunk and beat her. His only source of joy was his violin which he played regularly. But the landlady hated it so he had to stop.
Yuri, Einstein’s Friend
When Einstein stated all this to his friend Yuri, he comforted him. He told Einstein about how lucky he is to have his own room while he has to share a room with uncivilised people. He further goes on to tell Einstein about how a boy was killed in a fight and how the other boy is proud of his act. Yuri’s statement intensefies Einsteins’ misery as he feel that he would never be able to join college. He feels he would never be able to pass the exams for his school diploma.
Einstein Met his Cousin, Elsa
When Einsten’s cousin Elsa came to visit him from Berlin, he informed his doubts to her. She tried to counsel him. Elsa told him that she knew a lot of boys who were more stupid than him and they all had passed the exam. She adds that he only needs to learn his school books by heart and repeat it in exams.
Einstein tells Elsa that he cannot learn like a parrot. Elsa tells him that he can if he tries. She adds that Einstein always has a book with him but Einstein tells her that he was reading Geology which was not taught in the school.
Einstein’s Plan to Get Away from School
When Einstein met Yuri, he told him that he found it meaningless to stay in Munich. It was no use wasting his father’s money and everyone’s time. Einstein suddenly got an idea. He asked Yuri if he knew a doctor. Einstein wanted to get a medical certificate to show that he had a nervous breakdown and he should stop going to school. Yuri doubted that the doctor will believe Einstein.
Einstein commented that he would have a real nervous breakdown to make matters easier for the doctor. He believed that a day or two in school will make him reach the state of nervous breakdown. The next time Einstein met Yuri, he was miserable. Yuri informed him that he had found a doctor and that Einstein has to visit him the next day in the evening. Yuri adds that the doctor’s name is Ernst Weil and Einstein may be his first patient. He also warns Einstein to not lie to Ernst.
When Einstein met Dr Ernst the next day, he was nervous. Dr Ernst told him that Yuri had informed him about Einstein’s case. He also tells Einstein that he believes that he was infact on the verge of a nervous breakdown and writes a prescription for six months stating that Einstein needed to stay away from school. As a payment, he asks Einstein to take Yuri for a meal which he does.
Einstein gets the Reference
The next day, Einstein reached his mathematics teacher for a reference. Mr. Koch willingly gave it as he found that Einstein had learned all the maths that he could learn at school and even more than that. Mr Koch expresses his dejection at Einstein leaving the school which shocks him. It puzzled Einstein that his teacher knew he was leaving even before Einstein knew about it himself.
Einstein is asked to Leave
Einstein was summoned to the head teacher’s room where he was told to leave the school by his own self. The head teacher clarifies that Einstein’s presence disturbs the class. The as well as the pupils can’t study when he continuously rebels against the system.
When Einstein heard this, he felt sad that he had unnecessarily wasted time and effort in procuring a medical certificate. Einstein was tempted to tell the head teacher what he thought about the school or about the teachers but somehow stopped himself. When he left the school, he did not look back to see the school for the last time.
The only person he wanted to meet before leaving was Yuri, who wished him good luck and said that he would be happier in Milan.
Albert Einstein at School Summary Word Meanings
The given page numbers correspond to the pages in the prescribed NCERT textbook.
|scientist who studies physics|
|flushed||became red in confusion|
|lodgings||place of residence|
|slum violence||fights in the poorest areas of the town|
|duel||fight between two people|
|badge of honour||mark of pride|
|learning things by heart||remembering things perfectly|
|wailing||long and loud sound made by the violin|
|gets on one’s nerves||annoys|
|turn out||end in the result that|
|nervous breakdown||mental illness|
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