Oct 17

Einstein Would Have Loved an iPad!

Einstein, who was never able to recall his own phone number, was famous for not memorizing anything that could be quickly and easily looked up in a standard reference volume. “Never memorize what you can look up in books,” he said.
(Source: Life Magazine)

He said this probably in 1920s when books and newspapers were the only sources of information, and at the time it was probably an odd way of thinking for many people. But he was so right, because he needed the capacity of his brain to identify problems, find solutions and new ways of seeing things rather than store millions of not-so-necessary information.

Can you imagine how much he would have loved an iPad? :-)

Here I use iPad as a symbol for the other available technologies that make reaching information easy and I want to thank Steve Jobs for changing the way we work, the way we create and the way we communicate.

Rest in peace Steve Jobs.

Well… From 1920s to 2000s, although the school systems haven’t changed significantly, the way we live and learn has changed enormously.

In today’s global world, in order to be successful, we should be able to think critically and creatively. Therefore we don’t need not-so-necessary information in our brains either. 

What we need to do is to identify the best channels through which we can reach information. As educators we have twice as much responsibility. First, for ourselves, to develop professionally; second, for our students, to guide them towards appropriate learning resources. Besides we need to accept the fact that today’s learners need information to use it, not to memorize it. Therefore we should set them meaningful tasks, give them real reasons to learn and create learning environments where they can use what they learn in class. While doing this, we can benefit from available technologies, technologies that offer us useful tools to make learning easier, more interesting and more fun.

I think it is necessary to reconsider our role in students’ learning experiences. We are no longer ‘teachers’. We are guides, facilitators and sources of inspiration. And most importantly, we are lifelong learners.

Wishing you a week full of joy and laughter! 


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  1. Ken Wilson

    Hi Burcu,

    great to see you blogging again. I’m sure Einstein WOULD have enjoyed using an iPad, just as he would have marvelled at hybrid cars & microwave ovens – he was clearly someone who took great joy in invention & creativity.

    But I think you have to take with a pinch of salt his assertion that you don’t need to learn anything that can be found in a book. He was satirising rote learning of information that students promptly forgot after they’d regurgitated it in an exam – the sort of information that he (like many other students then and since) find hard to retain, and which led him famously to failing the entrance exam at the college where he first applied to study,

    But suggesting that not ‘learning’ things leaves greater creative capacity for the brain is a serious mis-reading of how brains work. We all need to retain vast amounts of information – otherwise we would never remember where we left our car keys or the names of our colleagues.
    And it would be a strange language learner who checked words on her iPad before completing a sentence

    The fact is- the more you learn and retain about the world around you increases your capacity to be imaginative, rather than the opposite.

    Great blog – got me desperately trying to remember the Theory of Knowledge lectures on my uni Philisophy course. Couldn’t find the book I needed :-)

    1. burcuakyol

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for your comment. My intention was not to suggest that not ‘learning’ things opens up more space for creativity. I was talking about the kind of information students have to memorize in school years and they do not use or remember when they finish school. Besides I think vocabulary that we need to speak a language does not fall into the not-so-necessary information category. However when I remember the way I (and most people in my generation in Turkey) was taught English vocabulary, I think it would definitely have been more useful if I had had an iPad only:)

      Best wishes from the rainy Istanbul:)


  2. Tara Benwell

    I was thinking the other day that Dr. Seuss would have loved an iPad. Imagine what he could have done with the Adobe Ideas and BookCreator apps. Great post!

  3. Torn Halves

    Have you come across the collection of Einstein’s non-scientific writings called “The World As I See It”. For people who only know of Einstein as a scientist his ideas about life and the problems of our time might be quite surprising. And they are still very relevant. Reading those, I am actually not quite so sure Einstein would have been all that excited about the iPad. Here’s an excerpt from one of the essays:

    “What an extraordinary situation is that of us mortals! Each of us is here for a
    brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he
    feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist
    for our fellow-men–in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all
    our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with
    whose destinies we are bound up by the tie of sympathy. A hundred times
    every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours
    of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in
    the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly
    drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am
    engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellow-men.”

    A hundred times a day …

    The simple life …

    An iPad?

  4. Sharon

    I’ve also heard that Einstein didn’t bother remember info such as his phone number since he could just look it up.

  5. Sharon

    I’ve also heard that Einstein never bothered to remember his phone number since he could have looked it up in the phone book.

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