Albert Einstein changed our way of looking at the universe. He also spoke out about other subjects, including education. Here are fourteen of his pronouncements on issues related to learning and education. Many quotations attributed to Einstein are specious, which is why I’ve provided sources for each of these fourteen.
On Schooling: ‘’It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.’’ [quoted in The New York Times, March 13 1949, p. 34].
On Imagination: ‘’Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.’’ [quoted in “What Life Means to Einstein: An Interview by George Sylvester Viereck” Saturday Evening Post , October 26th, 1929, p. 11].
On Love of Learning: ’I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.’’ [quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, p. 548].
On Creativity: ‘’It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.’‘ [quoted in Alice Calaprice, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, p. 100].
On Play: “The desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of a vague play with basic ideas. . . . . this combinatory or associative play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” [quoted in Jacques Hadamard, An Essay on the Psychology of Invention in the Mathematical Field, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1945, p. 142].
On Curiosity: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity.’’ [quoted in, ‘’Death of a Genius–Old Man’s Advice to Youth: ‘Never Lose a Holy Curiosity,’’ Life Magazine 38, no. 18, (May 2, 1955): p. 64].
On Wonder: ”The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in
awe, is as good as dead, a snuffled-out candle.” [quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, p. 387].
On Individuality: ”The development of general ability for independent thinking and judgment should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge. . .” [quoted in Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, Broadway Books, p. 64].
On Neurodiversity: His son, Albert Einstein Jr. wrote: ”[Einstein] was . . . considered backward by his teachers. He told me that his teachers reported to his father that he was mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” [quoted in Victor Goertzel and Mildred G. Goertzel, Cradles of Eminence, p. 248.
On Compassion: ‘’Our task must be to free ourselves from our prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all humanity and the whole of nature in its beauty.’’ [quoted in Walter Sullivan, ‘’The Einstein Papers: A Man of Many Parts,’’
The New York Times, March 29, 1972, p. 20].
On Care for Nature: ”In every true searcher of Nature there is a kind of religious reverence.” [quoted in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, p. 32].
On Tolerance: ‘’Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire
population.’’ [quoted in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, p. 297].
On Beauty: ‘’To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly; this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.” [quoted in Walter Isaacson, Einstein: His Life and Universe, p. 387].
On Education: ‘’The wit was not wrong who defined education in this way: ‘Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything he learned in school.’’ [quoted in Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions, p. 63].
For more about Albert Einstein and his vision for education (including the above and other quotations), see my book If Einstein Ran the Schools: Revitalizing U.S. Education.
This page was brought to you by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. and www.institute4learning.com.
Follow me on Twitter: @Dr_Armstrong