A lesson in learning for 2018 from Einstein

I was reading some articles about Einstein and, as someone who is fascinated by entrepreneurship, I came across two stories that seemed to encapsulate much of what I believe in and much of what I believe we need today.

The first piece told the story of how Einstein set the same exam paper to his students as the year before. When his assistant pointed it out to him and asked him why, he replied that the answers had changed.

The second thing that caught my eye was Einstein’s definition of stupidity. He defined it as doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

It struck me that Einstein was encapsulating much of what is wrong with the way that we educate young people today. If the answers were changing year on year in Einstein’s time, it is even truer today.

And yet we still put young people through a system that has the same subjects, teaching the same things and using the same books as the year before. In a world where many jobs are changing rapidly; where jobs are being replaced by AI and where many jobs have not yet been invented, where is the radical change in the way that we bring up our young people?

In broad terms, we are still following Einstein’s definition of stupidity. We are still following the same subject based model that we created for the first industrial revolution.

In a world where change has become an everyday occurrence, we still educate our children on the basis that we know what will happen in 10 or 15 years time and that nothing is really changing.

Einstein was highlighting the need to focus young people on learning for learning’s sake rather than learning for an examination or to satisfy statistics for those charged with imparting learning.

We need to accept that we have no idea how future years will unfold, so let’s stop pretending that we know all of the answers. Let us create inquiring minds that can cope with ever-faster change. Let us encourage young people to question and ask ‘why’. Let us stop doing the same thing and expecting a different answer, and let’s not start a year of learning believing that the answers will be the same at the end of the year.

Scroll to top