The Life of Henry Ford: Education, Motivation, and Entrepreneurship

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1205 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Words: 1205|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Mar 18, 2021

Table of contents

  1. Education
  2. Childhood & Family
  3. Inspiration
  4. Entrepreneurial Skills of Henry Ford

Henry Ford was an American industrialist and business magnate who had coined the transformation of automobiles, shaping the 20th century as it continues to affect the 21st. Henry Ford allowed the field of commercial automobiles to flourish, as he continually revolutionized factory production with his assembly-line methods. Ford spent most of his life making headlines, good, bad, but never indifferent, shaping the public demand for transportation. Ford pioneered the mass production/assembly for motor cars, determined to produce a simple, reliable and affordable car for the average consumer.

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“The object of education is not to fill a man’s mind with facts; it is to teach him how to use his mind in thinking.” Henry Ford was raised in a rural and agrarian farm, just outside of Dearborn, Michigan. During his youthful years, Ford was mainly taught agricultural practices on his family’s farm and took his share of inevitable chores on the farm, chopping wood, milking cows, and learning the proper farming etiquette. He was poorly educated, and went to his local public school, as well as a private grammar school. Ford would write using only the simplest of sentences. He never learnt how to write or read well and had disliked farming and was rather absorbed in machinery. He instead preferred to work with mechanical objects, particularly watches. Henry Ford attended a one-room school house when he was a child. He went to the Scotch Settlement School, Miller School, and Springwells School in Dearborn, Michigan. Ford was educated in a one – room schoolhouse from the age of seven, his teacher Mr. Chapman taught Ford throughout Eigth grade in one room, simultaneously learning grammar, math, geography and ethics. At a young age, Ford developed a passion for mechanics, and was an apprentice in a machines shop. Ford gained training as a mechanist in Detroit, and with his schooling behind him, Ford went on to become the chief engineer of the Edison Company in 1893. His infatuation with mechanics grew further throughout the years as he became more interested in this area despite his lack of education in science.

Childhood & Family

Henry Ford was born on July 30, 1863 on a farm near Dearborn, and was the oldest of five children. His father was an English Immigrant who settled down in a modest farmhouse, marrying the daughter of a Dutch Farmer. He was the son of Mary and William Ford and had four other siblings. He was an inquisitive and curious child, developing a feverish chill to demolish and repair objects. Ford was taught agriculture at his familial farm, but also learnt inefficient methods of farming, as told his in of his books he authored. He explains an anecdote about a farmer would rather carry a pail of water multiple times, rather than using a “pulley system”. In Ford’s teens, the main success of Ford flourished and blossomed from a gift he received from his father, a pocket watch. Ford was besotted and engrossed by the clockwork and interior components of the watch. After dissecting, dismantling and reassembling his watch, Ford asked others if he could repair their watches. This combined with school visits to a local blacksmith shop inspired Ford to start collecting tools and producing a workshop for himself, in which he would spend hours tinkering and working on projects which included on time trying to put a small engine on a tricycle. He also organized other boys to build rudimentary waterwheels and steam engines. He learned about full – size steam engines by becoming acquainted with the engine’s operators and pestering them with questions. He taught himself to fix watches and used the watches themselves as textbooks to learn the basics of machine design. It was at the Blacksmiths, barn raisings and at a local sawmill, Ford was allowed to pursue his passion of machinery. He also practiced on the timepieces of friends and neighbours, and soon gained the reputation of a watch repairman. From a young age he demonstrated mechanical ability and leadership qualities. Although he did not like working on the farm, he did learn that there was great value in working hard and being responsible. His mother died in 1876, leaving him devastated. He realized that he did not want to live on the farm anymore now that his mother was gone. He left home in 1879 to work as an apprentice machinist with James F. Flower & Bros. in Detroit. Later on he went to work for the Detroit Dry Dock Co. before returning home in 1882.


Ford was inspired by Thomas Edison, where Edison approved of his automobile experimentation. Ford considered Edison his boyhood hero and, when the two met at a convention of the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies in 1896 Ford was ecstatic, even capturing a candid photo of the inventor. Edison massively inspired Ford to produce more efficient cars that would match the American economy and the average consumer by refining his assembly line method and also increasing its reliability. Edison stated “Your car is self-contained – carries its own power plant – no fire, no boiler, no smoke and no steam. You have the thing. Keep at it.” This inspired Ford, to continually pioneer into producing an efficient automobile that outputted less emissions.

Another main inspiration for Ford, was William H Murphy who was a wealthy lumber tycoon and investor in Detroit, who took Ford’s automobile for a test drive which allowed Ford to have an extended capital to fuel his business as both individuals mutually agreed on the idea that gas powered vehicles would fuel the future and it would also strengthen the economy, thus it allowed Ford for a renewed boost and it allowed him to kick off producing automobiles.

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Entrepreneurial Skills of Henry Ford

Innovators change things. They take new ideas, sometimes their own and sometimes other people’s and develop those ideas to produce a norm. Innovation requires self - confidence, a taste for taking risks, leadership ability and a vision of what the future should be. Henry Ford had all of these characteristics, taking him years to fully develop these skills. Today, Ford’s curiosity, leadership, mechanical ability and willingness to take risks produced innovations in transportations, manufacturing, and assembly line techniques. During his pioneering of assembly line production, Ford had demonstrated one of the most important characteristics, the ability to articulate a vision and convince others to follow. This was demonstrated through the development of Ford’s first car, the Model A, which encouraged the swift production of cars and also promoted others to use his product due to its affordability which he continued to improve. Ford articulated the vision of an even better, cheaper “motorcar for the great multitude”. Ford also took massive risks, as he sparked the movement of a modern industrial revolution, this was demonstrated through Ford producing a car which would be affordable for the average American, as during that time period, “horseless carriages” were produced for those who were from a higher economic class, thus he took a risk and broke social boundaries to allow individuals to own a automobile at an affordable rate. Overall it is without a doubt the Ford was a passionate autodidact, learning mechanical engineering through his experience gained from expanding his horizon on the mechanics of his surroundings.

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The Life of Henry Ford: Education, Motivation, and Entrepreneurship. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
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