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What Einstein Can Teach Us? May 29, 2008

Posted by shaferfinancial in Uncategorized.
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There is much written about Albert Einstein as should be of a man of such great intellect.  But I want to share with you a little of what I believe we should learn from Einstein.  First, of course lets put to bed that falsehood that he failed in school.  He didn’t.   But what he did was rebel against the harsh realities of German schooling (A system we copied for our school model).  In fact, if you were to ask about one prominent characteristic of AE it would be his rebellious nature.  It lead him to hate school orthodoxy, and the military mobilization of German society of the time.

Our society has much in common with the Germany he grew up with and rebelled against.  So what can we learn from Einstein?  Allow me to share some Einstein quotes to animate the discussion:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge”

This is classic Einstein, not only is it the basis for his thinking, but it was the basis for his dislike of schools.  While he was imagining and writing the basics of what would become his great theoretical breakthroughs (at age 16) his teachers were more concerned with him memorizing facts resulting in one of his teachers famous quips, “it doesn’t matter what he [Einstein] does, he will never amount to anything.”  He wore the scars of this school model for his life.  Later he would say:

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”

He thought the time consuming memorization of facts was the exact opposite of what schools should be doing, the antithesis of his and other intellectuals’ way of allowing imagination to engender their thinking.

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Critics have suggested this next quote points to Einstein’s elitist attitude, but I think this is more closely as a result of his problem with schooling and his pacifism.  In fact throughout his life he remarked on the stupidity of “military thinking” and “schooling to memorize.”  

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

His open rebellion with orthodoxy was laid bare by this quote:

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”

This quote goes off in my brain everytime someone says “commom sense” to me!

How can we learn from Einstein?  Well, it is pretty simple.  First, don’t waste our time with the trivial.  Instead, allow time to use our imagination and to really think hard about the theories we use to run our lives.  Next, don’t be afraid to break from the herd.  Just because everyone thinks one way or behaves in a certain way doesn’t mean it is right or even worthwhile.  And finally be an intellectual rebel.  Don’t accept what other folks see as common sense or the truth.  Look beyond the surface for the evidence of reality!

And one final quote that really sinks home for folks who want to create wealth in their lives:

“Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”




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