Value of cognitive skills
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Einstein didn't learn about special relativity in school. His breakthrough in the understanding of the physical universe came from his ability to imagine how the world
work, and then ask himself questions and solve problems to determine which theories could be tested. For the most part, he let other scientists worry about the testing part, giving himself room for his thoughts to consider the world in ways no one had considered it previously.
Despite his initial problems with the regimented style of school, Einstein strongly valued the cognitive skills he gained from his later studies. He cited a good college education with providing the type of cognitive skills that allows people to think for themselves and imagine possibilities that have never been imagined. “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think,” Einstein was quoted in the New York Times in 1921.
For Einstein, advanced education is not job training, but training to perform at high levels in any situation, job or otherwise. This agrees with my view on education, with its worth being measured in
more than just financial return on investment
. Would Einstein feel the same way now, with a college education costing several multiples more than it did in his time, even after taking inflation into account? He clearly sees the
importance of cognitive ability and education for growing human capital
, which has a positive effect on options for long-term wealth.
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Moving to the United States and becoming a citizen of the country was important to Einstein. He saw this nation as a place of freedom and tolerance. He loved the idea that he and others could question authority without fear of reprisal. Einstein also enjoyed the lack of a class system as was prevalent throughout Europe. America provided the opportunity for any individual to succeed.