Inside Elon Musk estranged relationship with transgender daughter. Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP.

Why Elon Musk’s ex-teacher once thought he was ‘r****ded’?

Elon Musk’s school teachers in South Africa claimed the Tesla founder would often ‘stare into space’ and not concentrate in class


Inside Elon Musk estranged relationship with transgender daughter. Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP.

There is no doubt Elon Musk feels like the king of the world, particularly after his recent acquisition of Twitter (and the fact that he’s the wealthiest man in the world may also have something to do with it), but some of childhood teachers probably could have never imagined him later becoming a tech billionaire.

According to Errol Musk, Elon’s father, some of his teachers in his native South Africa cruelly branded him as retarded, when he was just seven years old, because he would sometimes wander off in class and not pay attention.



Errol Musk says he was shocked when the principal at Elon’s school in Grade 2 told him his son might have to attend a special school because he would often just stare into space. Musk Snr. says he figured the source of Elon’s concentration problems at school may actually have something to do with his hearing and ended up getting him ear grommets, a small tube that’s placed in a child’s ear during surgery to drain fluid.

The Tesla founder’s father revealed this during a Youtube interview earlier this year, where he used the offensive and outdated term.

 “I knew he wasn’t retarded but I didn’t know what to say,” he said.

He said after the meeting, Elon’s Grade 2 teacher was almost in tears when she told him his son spent a lot of his time in a “fixed position” staring out of the window and did not respond to her calls. The teacher reckoned there was something wrong with him and said even shaking him didn’t help.

Errol said: “I thought okay, well what’s wrong with that, but I didn’t say anything and turned to the principal, and he said to me, ‘Look, we think Elon needs a special school.'”

He then recalled how the teacher repeated the cruel comment: “We think Elon’s retarded.”

“In those days, they were somewhat straightforward. They didn’t mince words. I looked at them both, and the teacher was almost in tears, and I wasn’t sure what to say,” Errol said during the interview.