Einstein, and Why He is My Hero

Jim Trelease sent me Einstein’s quote, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”  Jim knew this would strike me, and it did.  All that I do in teaching is centered on creativity.  And of course fun is essential in order to make sure that it sticks.  So, does that mean I’m stimulating intelligence?  No, it means I’m striking the match- that lights the fuse- that stimulates intelligence.  Wow!

Thus began my love affair with Albert Einstein.

As a young child Einstein was a late talker, after the age of two.  And then, he had unnatural pauses in his speech.  The family maid said he was “a dope.”  School wasn’t much better.  Einstein said:

It’s almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry, for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.

Yes.  YES!  Why do some teachers unknowingly strangle the curiosity of inquiry?  Are they afraid to open the door and encourage children ask questions?  Are they worried that they won’t be able to fit in all the required material in the curriculum?  When things get too off track in my classroom, I tell the child, “Hold that thought.  Don’t forget it!”  And, I return to that thought later on.  Oh, if I forget, you bet the child will remind me!

All of this is stimulation.  Stimulation of the brain, and also the heart.  Einstein was right when he compared a child to a little plant, needing stimulation and freedom.  Freedom to think and to question.  Freedom to run and use their body.  Movement triggers neurons in the brain.  Add music to the mix, and learning sticks.  Really.

Einstein had a lifelong passion for music.  He played the violin at age six (music and math go hand in hand).  Classical music was his favorite, especially Mozart.

Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe.

I have music in my classroom every day.  We listen to classical music, dance and move to a variety of songs, learn patriotic songs, and even have fun with rock & roll.  We get to listen to, feel and touch different instruments.  In Einstein’s words, it’s all stimulation and freedom, and curiosity of inquiry.

My favorite Einstein quotes:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”

“It’s not that I’m smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, Einstein, Expressing words and feelings, Imagination, Inspiration, Jim Trelease, music, Quotes, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to Einstein, and Why He is My Hero

  1. Beautiful post, Jennie. Obviously, you stand out as someone who cares enough to give your best. (whoa that sounded like a Hallmark moment) I used to give seminars and found that having an easel in the classroom for nothing but posting ideas or questions was a big help. If the material needed to be covered and a question came up that was hard to field at that time it was posted to the board. In this way, the person knew I was receipting for the question and that it was visible enough not to be forgotten. Just an idea.I enjoyed your reflections on Einstein. I too admired him greatly.

  2. srbottch says:

    Einstein, je knew a thing or two. He would have enjoyed your classes. Didn’t he also say, ‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”? Yes, he did, I researched it because you stimulated and motivated me simultaneously. 😉


  3. yay! that you play music!! I am a Suzuki violin teacher. Dr Suzuki and Einstein were friends-I am huge fan of both. And I loved your post.

  4. Albert Einstein is certainly one of my favorites! One of his quotes I really like is this:”The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” Of course, this might be because I was a librarian! 😉 – Susan

  5. Wonderful post, Jennie! I love Einstein as well. He proved so much was wrong with how we educate our children. I’m going to save this group of quotes though I probably have them scattered in the copious pages of quotes I collect. Just not all together like you have them. Imagination is priceless.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Marlene. Glad you enjoyed this and like Einstein as much as I do. I wish growing up that school had taught about the whole Einstein, and not just the mathematician. I could have used his wisdom back then. And his view on education is spot on! Like you, my quotes are mostly handwritten and paper clipped. Yes, imagination is priceless. 🙂

  6. I have a chapter in my English literature book, a part of our curriculum. It is about how difficult it was for Einstein to be at school. He was not in good terms with his teachers, especially history, because he never learnt facts. He loved to read science of which they did not have much at school. He finally decided to get a prescription of nervous breakdown and get out of school. He talked with his Mathematics teacher for a recommendation that would help him for higher studies in Mathematics. But when he visited the Principal with the prescription, he was told to have been expelled from the institute for being a ‘rebel’. There was then, no turning back.

  7. Another wonderful post, your methods should be mandatory in the curriculum in every school everywhere. Well done.

  8. Sue Vincent says:

    I’ve always been fond of Einstein… it was the crinkly, mischievous eyes that attracted me as a child… and his attitude still does 🙂

  9. magarisa says:

    A wonderful, inspirational post!

  10. Opher says:

    Fabulous Post Jenny. He’s one of my heroes too. Love those quotes.

  11. Opher says:

    Reblogged this on Opher's World and commented:
    Great post from Jennie. Einstein is one of my heroes. What a great quote:
    “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

  12. beetleypete says:

    Great quotes from one of the greatest thinkers, Jennie.
    We could do with some more Einsteins, that’s for sure!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  13. Peter Klopp says:

    I like the quote about being smarter as a result of dealing with problems longer than others.

  14. Delightful, Jennie. I always love reading about Einstein. I’d like to have time to study him enough to make a major (fictionalized) character of him in a novel. Hugs.

    • Jennie says:

      Now, that would be better than wonderful. What a splendid idea! His wit and humor touch what matters most. Thanks, Teagan.

      • There were a few movies with him as a character, though not the central role.
        I did a serial featuring my fictionalized version of Cornelis Drebbel. That was huge fun. But he isn’t that well known, so not the same monumental challenge. LOL.

      • Jennie says:

        This would be a monumental challenge… but WOW, kinda makes the sparklers inside go off. Whenever I get that feeling or just know what to write, it feels like Fourth of July sparklers going off inside me. Doing this on Einstein would eclipse, well most everyone. What strikes me the most is his real understanding, with humor. You rock, Teagan.

  15. FlowerAlley says:

    My daughter had a “strangler” in second grade. It was a hard year.

  16. Dan Antion says:

    I used to use Einstein’s quotes often when I taught classes at work. They got people’s attention. The best teachers make students of any age feel comfortable asking questions and exploring the subject on their own. The best thing we can teach our children, beyond how to read, is how to learn. You’re a fantastic teacher, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Dan. Thank you for your kind and wise words. The best teachers (and frankly any leader) make everyone feel comfortable. Giving children the want and will to learn is the best.

  17. Do you need an ‘artist in residence’? I’d love to camp out in your classroom as a sort of shared studio space – you’ve inspired me, lady!
    Have a great day.

  18. Lisa Stafford says:

    Well said, Jennie!! I have always been inspired by Einstein, too, personally and professionally. His insights especially resonate within inspired early childhood classrooms!

  19. Wonderful quotes, Jennie and I’m not one bit surprised that they stick with you! 😊

  20. My favourite quote is “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. Einstein quotes are amazing and this approach to teaching is fantastic too.

  21. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you, Jennie, for this wonderful post!

  22. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This is another wonderful post from Jennie!

  23. Sparking a child’s curiosity is a great achievement. I remember when my kids were at Primary school, they had a whole lesson assigned to Inquiry. A selected topic was chosen and they would need to ask questions and investigate the topic together. What a great way to learn. 🙂

  24. Such an amazing and inspirational man. Thank you for this lovely and uplifting post, Jenny. 🙂

  25. I really like Einstein too. In addition to being brilliant, he was so witty and playful. Wonderful post, Jennie. 🙂

  26. Anastasia says:

    What a wonderful post! Great minds like Einstein’s deserve tremendous amount of respect!

    My favourite quote… well one of many

    If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales

  27. roberthorvat says:

    Almost everyday I am reminded of Einstein, during my travels on my way home, when I pass by a vivid and interesting example of street art of the genius himself. (It’s the header image to my Einstein article.) I often wonder why the artist chose Albert Einstein to celebrate upon the facade of this building? Only recent I found out that the owners of the building were greatly inspired by Einstein which matched their own core values.


  28. Norah says:

    Fabulous post, Jennie. I totally agree, as you knew I would. What an inspiration Einstein is. And I just love all those quotes of his. Also love this one of yours: “it means I’m striking the match- that lights the fuse- that stimulates intelligence.” Wow, indeed!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you so much, Norah. Growing up, the only Einstein I learned about was the mathematician. So, discovering his wit and wisdom has fueled my teaching. I’m glad the striking the match line resonated with you as it did with me. Happy Sunday to you, Norah.

      • Norah says:

        We seem to learn about people as a simple series of facts – a bit of a skeleton without much meat. It’s far more interesting when we get to know more about them. I think it’s these things that make history interesting and memorable.

      • Jennie says:

        “A bit of skeleton without much meat”. Exactly, and well said. The meat makes history come alive. Thanks, Norah.

  29. Ellen Hawley says:

    i wish all kids could have you as a teacher. That’s not practical is it?

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