Do not be distracted by the negative opinion people hold of you; but press on to find your strengths.
Principal and administrator of the Rock Christian School in Strathclyde, Bank Hall, St Michael, Marcia Jenkins, gave this advice to her students on Thursday afternoon while addressing the school’s prize-giving ceremony at the New Dimensions Ministries in Barbarees Hill, St Michael.
Citing the life of one of America’s greatest inventors, Thomas Edison, who was dismissed as a dull student and “addled” by one of his teachers in his early life but went on to register 1,093 patents in his life, Jenkins told the students that everyone had a special gift from God.
She recalled that as a young student Edison was a very curious child who asked many questions, but did not do well at school. And after being called dull and “addled”, his mother withdrew Edison from the formal school environment and taught him at home.
According to the principal, by the age of 12 Edison had read works by Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Edward Gibbon’s The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire.
It was during this time that Edison developed an interest in chemistry and built his first science laboratory in the basement of the family home.
Principal Jenkins told the students that Edison was most famous for his development of the electric light bulb with a feasible filament. She noted that at the time of Edison’s birth, electricity had not been developed but by the time of his death entire cities were lit by it and much of the credit went to Edison.
Edison became business partners with some of New York’s richest people –– J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts –– who together formed the Edison Electric Light Company in 1876, which later was called General Electric.
It was said that some of his inventions were improvements on other people’s, but some he stumbled upon, like the phonograph of which he was very proud.
Using Edison’s life as an inspiration for the students, Jenkins said: “Each one of you is good at something, but not every activity or ability is measurable in the classroom. Some are measured on the playing field, and some of you excel at athletics or sports; but even then some are always better runners or better jumpers than others.
“Whether in the realm of sports, academics, or the arts, it takes diligence and persistent practice to excel or to perform at your best –– and to be better than others in your age group.”
Jenkins told the students who tried hard but did not win to be of good cheer, because the experience made them stronger, helped them to learn discipline, and built character.
She reminded the students to keep looking out for what they could do really well –– something they liked –– and work at it.
To bear out her argument that there were multiple intelligences in the world, Jenkins referred to a quotation attributed to the physicist Albert Einstein: “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.”