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Einstein Didn’t Do Well in School

“I did better in school than you think!” Einstein

“Einstein didn’t do well in school”. I’ll hear a parent tell me with some hope that I’ll agree that not doing well in school is a fine thing. That’s not what I am thinking.

Einstein did well in his career in spite of not excelling in school not because of not excelling in school.  And, while it makes a good tale, Einstein actually did far better in school than commonly thought.

We also hear: “Bill Gates [or Mark Zuckerberg] dropped out of college.”

Most kids are not Bill Gates. They do not have the combination of brilliance and hard work ethic that got them into Harvard in the first place. And, 99% of those who have dropped out of college are not working on a potentially billion-dollar company.

Some parents are fooling themselves and their children when they send the message that doing well in school is not that important.

They are engaging in a fallacious use of inductive reasoning by taking an exception like Einstein or Gates and developing a general rule.

To be clear, we are all for the think big, believe big, and the majority of the law of attraction stream of reasoning that often forms the mental foundation for large success.

We dismay, however, when parents or their children miss the other half of such thought – you need to be exceptionally hard working to develop your talents to the fullest potential.

Yes, there have been several professional basketball players under 5 foot 10 inches.

But, each has been exceptionally quick, extraordinarily coordinated, and superbly conditioned.

Each has also been the quintessential gym rat, working hard to get great at a game that doesn’t favor their size.

The career game does not favor those who do poorly in school. Grades are a reflection of hard work and aptitude.

The skills learned in school – producing quality and timely work product – are similar to those favored in the work world.

When students think its ok to do most but not all of their homework, we explain to them that this is not how the real world works. You must show up at your job. You must do the work assigned to you. You must turn the work into the boss when expected.

When parents of kids send the message that its ok to underperform in school because of a Gates or Einstein metaphor, then lifetime bad habits will be cultivated.

If your student-child is not performing the work to do well enough at Guilford High School in Connecticut, then he’s creating habits that will hurt him in all future endeavors.

Parents who say otherwise are doing a disservice that will come back to haunt their children at some later point