Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Value of an Education


“The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.” —Albert Einstein


From Einsitein's first visit to America in 1921—a two-month extravaganza fit for a rock star. Einstein had recently achieved global stardom when observations performed during a total eclipse confirmed his Theory of General Relativity by showing that the sun’s gravitational field bent light beams as he had predicted (more here).

During the tour, Einstein was asked a question from the Edison test. Edison thought American colleges were too theoretical and was not an Einstein fan. He had devised a test for job applicants that consisted of about 150 questions such as “How is leather tanned?” or “What was Gutenberg’s type made of?” A reporter asked Einstein a question from the test: “What is the speed of sound?” Einstein did not know the answer and responded that “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need college. He can learn them from books.” He then made a larger point, ridiculing Edison’s view on education. “The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

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