Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Commonplace Book - Thomas Alva Edison...

As part of our Beautiful Feet History of Science study, we recently read The Story of Thomas Alva Edison by Margaret Cousins.  It was a delightful Landmark title, of which I learned a great deal and made several commomplace entries...

After one of the thousands of tests had turned out badly, one of his men came to him and said: "It won't work.  The whole thing is a waste of time and money!"
"Is that all you have to say for yourself?" Edison demanded. 
"It's a problem without a solution," another associate said.  
"If the Lord made a problem, he as made a solution," Edison said.  "Don't tell me the Lord made something impossible." (pg 142-143)

Edison was a man of ideas.  But he did not believe that there was anything unusual about his ability to have ideas.  He said that anybody could have ideas who was willing to observe, study and think.  He believed that people should start as early as possible to look at the world and nature and to draw conclusions about what they saw.  "Thinking is a habit," he said over and over.  "If you do not learn to think when you are young, you may never learn."  He never denied that he made guesses.  Guesswork or hunches, proved out by experiment, may become invention, he said.  
 "Imagination supplies the ideas," Edison said.  "Technical knowledge carries them out." Unless ideas are carried out they are useless. 
"I always keep within a few feet of the earth's surface all the time," Edison said.  "I never let my thoughts run up higher than the Himalayas!"
Edison believed in education.  Self-educated, he knew the value of learning.  "Education isn't play - and it can't be made to look like play," he said.  "It is hard, hard work.  But it can be made interesting work."
Edison believed in God.  "I tell you that no person can be bought into close contact with the mysteries of nature or make a study of chemistry without being convinced that behind it all there is a supreme intelligence." (pg. 163-165) 


  1. Wow, wonderful thoughts on training the mind starting the earliest years. I can't help but think how true our current culture has proved this to be... :/

    You have reminded me by sharing this book that I need to hand over more scientific biographies to my son. I know he would really appreciate the bits you have shared here. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome Celeste! Yes, I think science biographies are good to add in. Our 10-year old son just finished a Landmark book about Alexander Graham Bell. I like that AO includes some in their lists.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I love that "if the Lord made a problem, he has made a solution." This is great :-) And a good reminder of how dependent we are upon Him for wisdom.

  3. You're welcome Kristyn! Yes, I thought that was a beautiful reminder. I also thought "Imagination supplies the ideas," was very much in line with Charlotte Mason's philosophy. I found it interesting that he lived during some of the same years and wasn't taken with Darwin's ideas on evolution.