Five Famous Scientists Who Failed School

Fail scientist cover

Schooling is seen as one of the most crucial and significant parts of a students’ life. Given that these institutions build the foundation of children by enabling them to learn the skill of reading and writing, from there on slowly but surely knowledge of various subjects is taught to them. However, when we reach a certain level of schooling things start to get interesting. While society is structured in a way that we simply understand that if one is to fail or drop out of school they cannot become successful in life. Though it is true for individuals who just do not want to study, for others school is nothing but a cage trapping their intellect.

Scientists who failed School

1. Albert Einstein: Can you think of any other scientists dead or alive that would be so famous that even the newer generation knowns about him regardless if they study science or not? We know he was a genius and his theory of relativity was truly game-changing. His idea of gravity was groundbreaking, so much so that approximately 100 years after his statement scientists were finally able to grasp the idea upon detected gravitational ripples in the year 2015. He was also a noble prize winner and deemed Man of the Century by the Times magazine, despite this his schooling was different. He struggled in academics and he even dropped out at the age of 15. He even gave an entrance exam at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology but he failed the exam and it was only his second attempt that he was able to enter the institute.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein in his office.

2. Thomas Edison: The inventor of the famous and vital light bulb, he was perhaps one of the most influential and productive inventors as he had about 1000 patents to his name. Thanks to his creations, he became a millionaire and he had a very idea on how to manage his money as he was known to be a good businessman as well. However, when he was a toddler he became severely ill and due to that, he was unable to join schooling up until a certain age, and by the time he joined the school, his mind started wandering which led one teacher to even call him a confused child. Just three months into his schooling he was dropped out but fortunately for him, his mother was a schoolteacher who homeschooled Edison. Despite being a great inventor, he struggled with mathematics throughout his life and hired mathematicians to carry out his inventions.


A photograph of Thomas Edison.

3. Benjamin Franklin: One of the founding figures of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin has contributed tremendously to his country. Not only was he a scientist, but he was also a writer, printing press operator, inventor, and diplomat. Unlike Edison who made a fortune from his inventions, Franklin saw his inventions as a tool that could enhance the lives of people and never patented any of his creations as he wanted them to be shared by everyone freely. He is famously known for inventing lightning rods and an early form of glasses. Despite his notable achievements he did not pursue schooling for long, he only studied for 2 years before dropping out at the age of ten and helping his father and brother with publishing. Being the fifteenth child and the youngest son didn’t help in this case either.

Benjamin Franklin

A painting of Benjamin Franklin.

4. Sir Isaac Newton: Idolized by Albert Einstein himself, the creator of motion physics, and the renowned Mathematics Principles of Natural Philosophy (Principia), Sir Isaac Newton can be said as one of the most important personalities in the field of science. His highly capable mind not only gave us two mentioned gems but 12 other crucial aspects of science that continue to enhance our lives today. If you enjoy science you cannot thank him enough and if you despise science you cannot loathe him enough, either way, you see it he is responsible for your syllabus of physics. Even though he was such a great physicist, he was not a good student by any means, as he did miserably in school and was ultimately dropped out. Following that he was made in charge of a family farm, but he was no good there either and one of his uncles had to take over and finally, he was sent to Cambridge where he became Isaac Newton that we know of.

Newton thinking

Sir Isaac Newton thinking prior to discovering gravity.

5. Michael Faraday: Unlike other scientists on this list who either failed the school or had to drop out of it due to various reasons, Michael Faraday belonged to a poor household and had no means to gain formal knowledge. During 18th century England, the wages of a blacksmith were very less and Faraday’s father was a blacksmith and due to this very reason, he was unable to pay for schooling. Faraday had no choice but to self-educate, but given the way he grew up and later becoming one of the most influential scientists of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, one couldn’t help but respect him. Unfortunately, due to this way of education his mathematical skills were very poor, and most of his theories were dismissed initially as he couldn’t back them mathematically.

Michael Faraday

A photograph of Michael Faraday.

The bottom line is that no matter where you stand academically if you have your brain in the right direction sooner to later you will blossom. Though these are fine examples, one doesn’t have to be fixated on these scientists alone as there are other walkways of life that house similar stories of failure and overcoming them.

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