Chapter 4, Albert Einstein at School by Patrick Pringle
NCERT answers of Class 11 NCERT English Supplementary Reader - Snapshots
Question 1: What do you understand by Einstein's nature from his conversations with his history teacher, his mathematics teacher and the head teacher?
Answer: Einstein's was not contented with the education system of Germany where he was studying in school. As a result of which his behaviour at times seemed to be unruly in school. He believed in thinking original ideas. Einstein thought that education is meaningless if it cannot develop new ideas, skills and interest among the students.
He felt that merely learning facts and memorizing dates were of no use. This led to an unpleasant argument between Einstein and Mr. Braun, his history teacher.
From his conversation with the mathematics teacher Mr. Koch it can be inferred that he had a real interest in mathematics. It was the only class which he never missed. Albert seemed to be a lot more respectful and obedient towards his mathematics teacher. Unlike history teacher, the mathematics teacher had a different opinion about Einstein as he could identify the genius in him and willingly gave him a glowing testimonial.
Among all the three Einstein had the worst encounter with the head teacher. Here we find him defensive initially however; he became carefree at the end of the meeting as he showed his contempt by refusing to close the door on his way out. He didn't even mind to have a last look before leaving the school.
The above encounters show Albert Einstein as a creative individual with self respect, firm opinion and belief in himself.
Question 2: The school system often curbs individual talents. Discuss.
Answer: It is quite true that the school education often curbs individual talents. Most of the time, it is outdated and worthless. Education has no meaning if it cannot develop new ideas, creative skills and interest among the students. There will always be individual differences. One student may be genius in arts while other may be in math or science and yet another student may prove his talent in some sports. Books are only a part of education. Education is not just learning facts, figures or dates. Rather, our education system should be such that it can bring out the best talent from within a learner while he or she is learning in the school. Too much restrictions, formalities and discipline can be unproductive for all around growth in children. The school should act like a facilitator not a barrier. It should create conducive atmosphere where one can feel encouraged and inspired to attain the goal of life.
Question 3: How do you distinguish between information gathering and insight formation?
Answer: 'Information gathering' means collecting information or data as the news reporters do to create news, article or a story. Without going much into the details or understanding the reasons, they just represent the information they gathered. The education system what Einstein found in his German school also stressed more on gathering information. The history teacher asked him when the Prussians defeated the French at Waterloo. Einstein thought mere learning of facts and figures has no meaning since these can be collected from any good book on that subject. What is important, understanding the reasons behind an event as also develop an idea which forms the basis of education.
On the other hand, 'Insight formation' means creating or forming an insight or deep understanding. Einstein believed insight formation must be the aim of education. He felt that education does not necessarily mean to learn dates and facts rather; it should teach one how to search the reason and understand the same. For example, mugging the dates of battles is not important but to probe into its cause is important so that the basis can be rooted later on. The real growth of mind, knowledge and creativity comes from 'insight formation' and not from 'information gathering'.
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