Imagination is More Important Than Knowledge

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” 

– Albert Einstein

Knowledge, the Root of Wisdom

What is knowledge other than experience?  Experience is either first-hand (one’s own) or second-hand (belongs to someone else), relayed to you after-the-fact?  Einstein’s observation does not downplay the importance of knowledge.  For indeed knowledge, as shared experience, is essential for success.  Knowledge is, at its very essence, how humans learn lessons and transfer those lessons to others and to other circumstances.  Therefore, knowledge is the root of wisdom – knowledge/experience from the past applied to current decisions to create predicted future outcomes (see sidebar discussion of insanity).

But imagination is the key ingredient to allow the application of knowledge and the creation of a new future state.  Imagination leads to innovation.  Imagination invents the new and sees future possibilities.

Imagination, the Key to Discovery

A paper plan held in front of the windos of a passenger airplane - represents imagination, innovation, a the reality of knowledge.

Imagination has led to the discovery of new worlds and to the exploration of new frontiers.  Additionally, imagination built skyscrapers to concentrate commerce, superhighways to transport goods and products, and supercomputers to process and convey information.  The result of imagination can be seen in every corner of the world, in every human endeavor, and in all human success. The marvel of modern aviation and the incredible technology that builds passenger airliners are the product of past imagination.

Einstein’s quote originally came from a 1929 interview with The Saturday Evening Post, (see Quote Investigator) but when he published it again in his 1931 book Cosmic Religion and Other Opinions and Aphorisms, he expanded the thought:

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.

– Albert Einstein

Imagination and Knowledge

When in the classroom, providing for the transfer of knowledge (and experience), the inspirational teacher knows the importance of nurturing the students’ imagination.  This is done by setting a context for the use of the knowledge and a vision for a better future because of the correct application of that knowledge.  Only through imagination bolstered by knowledge will they be able to continue forward in the spirit of innovation, exploration, and discovery.

While providing workforce training, remember Einstein’s astute observation that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  Look for ways to involve more than the transfer of knowledge alone, as important as that may be.  Seek to stimulate your students’ imagination – and they will apply the knowledge in important ways that the world has never seen.

Imagination is More Important Than Knowledge – today’s VisionLink.  Be sure to look for more leadership principles, techniques, and best practices from P H Tyson & Associates.

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