Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Written Off by Teachers

By Anthony Rebora — October 09, 2012 1 min read
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The British press has been having a good time noting that one of the recently named Nobel Prize winners in medicine, U.K. scientist Sir John Gurdon, wasn’t exactly a student whom teachers expected great things from. In his office in Cambridge, Gurdon reportedly keeps an old evaluative report from his science master at Eton secondary school above his desk. The conclusion could hardly be harsher:

I believe [Gurdon] has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous; if he can't learn simple biological facts, he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be a sheer waste of time, both on his part and of those who would have to teach him.

At age 15, Gurdon also ranked dead last in biology in his Eton class.

And now—ehem—he has won a share of the Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries in cellular development and regeneration that have led to major advances in medical research and the study of diseases.

Surely, there’s a lesson in this ...

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.