Photo Credit: Barbara A Lane from Pixabay

On October 26, 1929, an interview with Albert Einstein was published in the Saturday Evening Post, entitled, “What Life Means to Einstein.” In the interview, George Silveste Viereck spoke with Einstein on a wide range of topics. The article was published in the midst of a four day stock market crash that preceded the Great Depression. The article references the sense of instability in the world and how Einstein’s word “relativity” had become emblematic of that moment in time. The quote from this interview about imagination versus knowledge has become one of Einstein’s most famous and is as relevant to education today as it was in 1929– perhaps even more so.

The rapid pace of technological change in our world today, coupled with significant global political, economic, public health, and environmental challenges requires much more of us than knowledge. Of course foundational knowledge is essential for young people but memorizing statistics and information that is easily accessible with a quick “Hey Siri” or google search is not a great use of precious time with teachers. Complex problem solving requires creativity, derived from imagination– to invent new approaches and solutions to today’s problems. Teaching students tools such as Design Thinking will help them learn step-by-step techniques to developing innovative new solutions. Often those innovative new solutions require drawing upon understandings from multiple disciplines and having opportunities to work on real world problems so that they can apply what they have learned to gain new understandings.

More and more at Roycemore, our faculty are engaging students in these kinds of explorations. Not only does it deepen their knowledge, but their understanding becomes more enduring and they are filled with “Eureka” moments. Such is what Archimedes purportedly exclaimed after he stepped into a bath, noticed the water rose and suddenly understood the water he displaced was equal in volume to the volume of his body that was underwater. This is a very early example of project-based learning.

Imagination leads to Eureka moments, to solving problems, and to innovation. No matter what lies ahead for our world and the lives our students will experience, imagination will become increasingly critical to our students ability to thrive throughout the rest of the 21st century.