Albert Einstein at School – Patrick Pringle

This biography describes Einstein’s struggles at Luitpold Gymnasium, his school in Munich. About his clash with teachers and students. About his stay as a paying guest and his noisy landlady. Einstein had no peace in the school nor in his lodging. About his securing a doctor’s certificate that suggested a change of school. Learn Albert Einstein at School – Summary, Questions and Answers.

People we read in this lesson

  • Young Albert Einstein
  • His history teacher Mr. Braun
  • Yuri, his only friend
  • Dr. Ernst Weil, the doctor
  • Mr. Koch, his mathematics teacher
  • Elsa – Einstein’s cousin sister.

Albert Einstein

  • Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire on 14 March 1879.
  • His father was Hermann Einstein, a salesman and engineer. His mother was Pauline Einstein.
  • In 1880, the family moved to Munich, where his father and his uncle founded Elektrotechnische Fabrik J. Einstein & Cie, a company that manufactured electrical equipment based on direct current (DC).
  • Albert attended a Catholic elementary school from the age of five for three years.
  • At the age of eight, he was transferred to the Luitpold Gymnasium (now known as the Albert Einstein Gymnasium) where he received advanced primary and secondary school education until he left Germany seven years later.
  • In 1894, his father’s company failed. In search of business, the Einstein family moved to Italy, first to Milan and then, a few months later, to Pavia.
  • When the family moved to Pavia, Einstein stayed in Munich to finish his studies at the Luitpold Gymnasium.
  • His father intended for him to pursue electrical engineering, but Einstein clashed with authorities and resented the school’s regimen and teaching method.
  • At the end of December 1894, he travelled to Italy to join his family in Pavia, convincing the school to let him go by using a doctor’s note.

Opening – The Rebellious Student

  • Einstein doesn’t like the way facts are taught. He wants his teachers teach reasons rather than dates.
  • Teachers are fed up with Einstein. Einstein finds himself in a wrong place.
  • Thinks only about ways and means of getting expelled from the school.

Questions & Answers

  1. Why was Einstein’s presence in the school a persistent soreness for his teachers and classmates?
    Albert Einstein was not a good student at school when we judge his performance in the class. He was rather a rebel. His intelligent questions left his teachers with no answer. Most teachers entered his class with dread about the questions he would ask. His classmates, who were either jealous of him or disliked him for his questioning behavior, hated him, too. Albert Einstein was too genius for a school like the one that he attended in Munich. He pestered/troubled his teachers with questions that they were not able to answer and made his classmates feel jealous of his genius. Einstein’s honesty is mistaken for arrogance. He is punished and told that he is disgrace to the school. Einstein thus, felt miserable at school and longed to escape. Besides, the head teacher told Einstein that all the teachers were vexed with his rebellious attitude and wanted him to leave the school.
  2. What was Einstein’s theory of education?
    Einstein believed that the then existing education method was incapable of meeting the purpose of education. He wanted the school find out a student’s area of interest and empower that side of the students. He believed that learning facts and dates was not education. He was against learning facts and dates by heart. He was really disappointed that there was no research in his school.
  3. What were Einstein’s views regarding rote learning? Why is mere rote learning useless?
    As a student in Munich, Einstein was different from the other boys of his age. He was unable to cope with conventional system of education which says a lot of emphasis on learning by rote. He believed that there was no point in memorizing facts. Facts, he felt, could easily be looked up in books. Rote learning only helps in scoring but on the other hand, the student stops thinking and exploring. Students take to learning what others have learnt but creativity and inventions are disabled.
  4. What made Einstein unhappy at school?
    Einstein was a misfit at school and was unable to cope with the conventional system of education. As a student at Munich, he was different from other boys of his age. He hated the oppressive atmosphere of the school and was sure he would fail in the examinations. He was always dissatisfied with the absence of creative learning in the school.
  5. Why didn’t Einstein take interest in learning the dates of wars? OR What was ‘Einstein’s theory of education?’ (2 marks)
    Einstein did not believe that learning facts and dates is education. In the case of the date of the Waterloo War, he said he did not remember the date for the very reason. In his opinion, students should not be made to memorize the dates of wars and events. Rather, he loved to learn why the war was fought. This means that Albert Einstein was in favor of applied knowledge over rote learning.

Next – Elsa

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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