Saturday, January 2, 2010


Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Throughout my teaching, I posted this quotation in my classrooms. Students found the words provocative, and our resulting conversation through the year proved fruitful. Some adults, however, who prized "objective" knowledge, took me to task. They argued that Einstein was wrong.

I know those adults are wrong. Without imagination, there can be no knowledge because imagination fuels the desire to discover and re-discover, resulting in new knowledge, which is always tentative, no matter how certain it seems.

What has this to do with ingenuity? Ingenuity results when imagination faces conflict. Recently, the value of ingenuity was brought home to me when a carpenter came to to resolve a problem with my dining room hardwood floor. A leak had left a stained area, which meant that the planks had to be replaced.

Michael looked at the saved box of unused planks, but knew there would not be enough to finish the job. We discovered that if I wanted more, I'd have to buy a box with 25 square feet of planks (for more than $100). I needed only enough for an area about 3 feet x 3 feet.

While I was discussing my dilemma with folks at Lowe's, Michael disappeared for a few minutes, reappeared, and told me not to order the box. I hung up. He asked, "When was the last time you looked at the floor in the back of your hall closet?"

Oh, I like how he thinks. The floor is repaired, with the contents of the box and the help of two lengths of hardwood from the closet. The dining room floor looks terrific, and the closet does too. I moved the contents back into the closet and am now on a quest for something close in color that he can use there.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying my renewed certainty that imagination (and ingenuity) is indeed more important than knowledge.

No comments: