It’s become the most common justification for every Tom, Dick and Harry who does bad at school. “My son/daughter is actually very gifted, his gifts just aren’t recognized. He/She’s a regular Einstein” etc. etc. Of course the modern education does have some serious flaws (I won’t discuss them in this post but a detailed analysis of every single one of them can be obtained by spending half-an-hour with my grandpa). As Einstein himself said:
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
However, I still feel compelled to crush the myth of Einstein being a bad student and a failure at school. Einstein was not a bad student. He was a prodigious student. What evidence do I have? Well, let’s see…
A while after Albert Einstein started going to school at the age of six, in 1885, his mom sent a letter to her sister in which she wrote:
Yesterday, Albert received his grades, he was again number one, and his report card was brilliant.
Einstein was once showed a headline about himself titled, “Greatest living mathematician failed in mathematics.”. He laughed and said “I never failed in mathematics; Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”
The last and most conclusive proof is… his report card. No seriously, his actual report card. Einstein took the Swiss version of the A Levels, called “Matur”. In the Swiss Matur, a score of 6 is equivalent to something like an A* / A+. While a 1 is the lowest score. Here’s an image of Einstein’s school certificate:
Here’s an English translation:
Translating these to GCE A Level grades, he got something like 5 A*s, 4 As, 3 Bs and a C. Now on what planet are those grades considered bad? That’s a really awesome score.