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Dr. Albert Einstein: Theoretical Physics, Relativity and the Photoelectric Effect, 1935

The "Lone Traveler" Sets Out

Albert began his schooling in Germany, where his teachers disciplined him and his classmates in what the young Einstein felt was a harsh manner. His primary school classes emphasized memorization and learning by rote, and Albert was reprimanded by his German elementary school teachers for thinking too much about the meaning of their questions and failing to produce responses as quickly as his peers. At home Albert obediently completed his homework before engaging in solitary games. One of his favorite pastimes as a child was constructing houses of cards, which he was sometimes able to build to reach four stories. Even as a young child Einstein valued solitude, and in 1930 he would reflect: "I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, and even my immediate family with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude—feelings which increase with the years" (qtd in Cassidy 64).

Franklin Institute award winners were invited to a banquet following the medal ceremony. Einstein's reserved nature is revealed in the following letter, in which he apologizes for remaining silent at this banquet. You can access the full text by clicking on the thumbnails at right.