“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Starting Einstein’s biography


It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a big book, and I’m starting to tackle Einstein by Walter Isaacson. I’ve always been intrigued by Einstein, simply because as a kid, teachers and adults would tell me, you need to be more like Einstein and Edison- and both failed elementary school.* When I would point that fact out, well, it was never received well, ha ha. The biography is fantastic so far and just wanted to share this quote from the first chapter:

“Near the end of his life, Einstein was asked…what schools should emphasize. ‘In teaching history, there should be extensive discussion of personalities who benefited mankind through independence of character and judgment.’ Einstein fits into that category. At a time when there is a new emphasis, in the face of global competition, on science and math education, we should also note the other part of Einstein;s answer. ‘Critical comments by students should be taken in a friendly spirit. Accumulation of material should stifle the student’s independence.’ A society’s competitive advantage will come not from how well its school teach the multiplication and periodic tables, but from how well they stimulate imagination and creativity.”

Amen. =)

*Actually, I was wrong about Einstein: To quote from the book: “One widely held belief about Einstein is that he failed math as a student, an assertion that is made, often accompanied by a phrase, ‘as everyone knows,’ by scores of books and thousands of websites designed to reassure underachieving students. It even made it into the famous ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not.'” Einstein’s response? “I never failed in mathematics. Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.”


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