Einstein quote about Education

Woodward English Quote

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

– Albert Einstein


To remain (verb) = to stay behind
To forget (verb) = to not remember
Remember that there are two ways of writing the past tense and past participle of the verb To Learn:
Learnt (UK) and Learned (US)

What does it mean?

Einstein is saying that you only really start learning once you have left school and forgotten what you learnt there. He is suggesting that although school is there to educate you about important subjects such as maths and science, only real life can really educate you about things which are important. He is also suggesting that what you learn at schools is counterproductive – it can have a negative impact on your life – and that only once you have forgotten what you learnt at school do you start learning useful things.
He probably thought this way after one of his teachers said “You will never amount to anything” (which means you won’t get anywhere in life). Of course, he eventually proved that teacher wrong.

Do you agree with this quote?
Which do you think is more important: the skills you learn at school or the skills you learn by being in the real world: going to work, having relationships, etc?


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4 Responses to “Einstein quote about Education”

  1. Riga Tarin 18 June, 2013 at 2:57 am #

    School is the first step for getting education. It’s more important to get knowledge.
    We can get knowledge from anything that we spent in our life. Education is a gold that no one steal it from us. I think both of them is important in our life.

    • woodward 18 June, 2013 at 11:15 am #

      What a great expression you just said. “Education is gold that no one can steal from us.”
      I love it!

  2. Potter 3 August, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Your “What does it mean?”, while not entirely false, is certainly NOT what I ever thought Einstein was referring to in that quote. When he said “what remains” I infer that some education was imparted during school. So, what is “learning”? The facts and theories, the opinions of the textbook writers and teachers, the rote memorization. What “remains”? The ability to apply new facts to new ideas, make new theories, to form your own opinion. In short, education is analytical thinking, which should be learned in school, and that persists EVEN AFTER “one has forgotten what one has learned in school”, NOT “only after.” Is this a fine distinction? I don’t think so. It is a critical one.

  3. Chris 19 September, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    I think it means we must learn to forget before learning to remember.

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