Intelligence, Imagination & School

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

I posted the quote above previously and felt like it deserved more attention than it probably gets most people today. For me, it’s quite obvious that imagination is indeed a more profound indicator of genius than some test-based intelligence test. The primary reason for this is that the ability to understand abstract concepts and/or develop an innovative idea provides the opportunity for advancement. Although someone capable of remembering books upon books of factual information is extremely impressive, the truth of the matter is that they are still simply memorizing information that is already known. Someone has already discovered that information previously or else the books that contain the facts would not exist! True intelligence comes from applying knowledge in imaginative ways and developing truly innovative ideas.  A person who is able to construct an original idea is more likely to be remembered as a genius than any man or women who can recite facts as if they were a Jeopardy panelist!  Innovation comes from imagination, plain and simple.

If you consider the fast-paced society we live in combined with the rigid educational systems, it’s amazing there is any imagination left! I by no means claim to be an expert in education, so I don’t intend to instigate a furious debate about educational progress in the United States.  However, I do believe the educational politics of the US have developed such an obsession with test-based curriculum that children are rarely given the opportunities to develop creativity. Think about it… each year teachers and students are thrust into a situation in which some form of state or national exam determines whether the teacher ‘successfully’ educated their students and/or students ‘successfully’ learned the material taught to them.  Teachers often cannot deviate from a strict core-based curriculum guide and at times, are even coerced by their supervisors to avoid unnecessary creative applications and to stick to the curriculum.  Even with supervisors who encourage creativity, educators must meet the statewide demands of teaching a laundry list of subjects and rarely have any time left over to apply innovative teaching techniques.  We are essentially, neglecting students of today the opportunity to think for themselves and develop creative thought process capabilities! I’m not saying to completely get rid of tests.  They obviously serve their purpose and should never be removed entirely from education.  However, it seems to me that we have almost become reliant on tests as an indicator of success, and I’m pretty sure Albert Einstein would disagree that tests measure genius.  While test may measure a form of intelligence, they by no means paint the entire picture.

I could probably discuss this topic for a while, but for now I will leave it at that.  Feel free to comment with your own opinions or ideas!


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