I have so many words in my mother -tongue that I ought rather complain of the lack of a right understanding of things, than of a lack of words with which fully to express the conception that is in my mind.

Due to Leonardo’s illegitimacy he wasn’t able to attend proper schools of the time. So he didn’t receive a “proper” or traditional education. He was taught by his grandfather and family and eventually was accepted into an “art college” as we would call it now, but was essentially an apprentice to a very prestigious painter. It’s likely that the lack of a standardizing education contributed to his non-traditional thinking and “thinking outside of the box.” 
He couldn’t have learned what HE invented in a class room. That is not to say the Leo wasn’t educated or illiterate - he had a significant personal library of books and was influenced by authors of the past. He realized that what was taught - even if it was the same lesson from hundreds if not thousands of years - could be false. He said that experience was the ultimate guide to obtaining knowledge. This is very likely to be a precursor if not the best example of what we now call the “Scientific Method.”

“Though I may not, like them, be able to quote other authors, I shall rely on that which is much greater and more worthy— on experience, the mistress of their Masters. They go about puffed up and pompous, dressed and decorated with [the fruits], not of their own labours, but of those of others. And they will not allow me my own. They will scorn me as an inventor; but how much more might they— who are not inventors but vaunters and declaimers of the works of others— be blamed.”

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