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Term 4 2015 - Thomas Edison

For Terms 3 and 4 our core values are perseverance and diligence. As a staff we are trying to develop this in our students as it is one of the most effective values we can develop in ourselves and not always something New Zealanders are good at. In the last edition of the newsletter I told you about the stirring post-war story of Sir Winston Churchill, one of the most famous men in history, and the advice he gave at a university speech. Today we turn to one of the world's most famous inventors.

When he was a young boy, Thomas Edison's parents pulled him out of school after teachers called him 'stupid' and 'unteachable.' Edison spent his teenage years working and being fired from various jobs, including from a telegraph company at age 21. Despite these setbacks, Edison never swayed from his true passion, inventing. Throughout his career, Edison obtained 1,093 patents. And while many of these inventions, such as the light bulb, stock printer, phonograph and alkaline battery were ground breaking, even more of them were unsuccessful. Edison is famous for saying that genius is "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration."

One of Edison's greatest stories of perseverance occurred after he was already very successful. After inventing the light bulb, Edison tried to find a cheaper light bulb filament. At the time, ore was mined in the Midwest, and shipping costs were incredibly high. To counter this, Edison opened his own ore-mining plant in Ogdensburg, New Jersey. For roughly a decade, Edison devoted all his time and money to the plant. He also obtained 47 patents for inventions designed to make the plant run more smoothly. And after all of that, Edison's project still failed thanks to the low quality ore on the East Coast!

But as it turned out, one of those 47 inventions (a newly-designed crushing machine) revolutionised the cement industry and earned Edison back nearly all of the money he lost. As well, Henry Ford would later credit Edison's Ogdensburg project as the main inspiration for his Model T Ford assembly line, and many believe that Edison paved the way for modern-day industrial laboratories. It goes to show then that even something deemed a failure can pay off in other ways.

Edison invented, or made discoveries that led to hundreds of inventions. He performed tens of thousands of experiments in his quest to find answers and never gave up. When something failed he didn't see it as a failure but rather as a revelation of something that then wasn't going to work and could therefore be ruled out! He once said, "I have not failed. I have just found 10 000 ways that won't work."

Thomas Edison is an excellent example of what perseverance can lead to. Never give up if it is worth doing in the first place. Always give your best and devote this learning, this diligence, this persevering to God who gave you your abilities in the first place. Encourage this value in your children too. Persistence and persevering is worth valuing and developing.


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