Einstein’s views on education

Our library sells donated books and paperbacks to raise funds. I recently found a hardcover copy of Carl Sagan’s Broca’s Brain: reflections on the romance of science for $2. I have several of Sagan’s books and was happy to add this to my collection. There’s a chapter about Albert Einstein with a brief biography, describing Einstein’s poor experiences with schooling, his teachers declaring him a failure who would never amount to anything. Einstein had this to say about school:

It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not already completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry, because what this delicate little plant needs most, apart from initial stimulation, is freedom; without that it is surely destroyed…

Sagan agrees, at least when it comes to scientific education, which was a cause dear to his heart. He writes:

I wonder how many potential Einsteins have been permanently discouraged through competitive examinations and the forced feeding of curricula.

So the next time someone wonders how your child is going to succeed without formal schooling, consider that Einstein published four seminal papers in the leading Physics journal of his day while working as a patent clerk, and with no post-secondary degrees to his name.

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