The name Einstein brings up the image of man who is synonymous with crazy hair, a bushy mustache, and E = mc2.
When someone is called an “Einstein” it means that person is considered a genius—exceptional at learning, thinking, and problem solving.
So, who was the man behind the name?
Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879 and grew up in Germany. His father owned a company that sold electrical equipment, so he wanted Albert to pursue a career in electrical engineering.
The school where Albert attended taught primarily through drills and strict rote learning, which he struggled with. He described this teaching style as losing “the spirit of learning and creative thought.” Einstein may have not liked repetition and memorization of facts, but it may have helped him later when writing papers and calculating great mathematical figures to have this foundation of knowledge.
When Einstein was fifteen, he was able to leave the school with a doctor’s note and attend a new school where he could pursue his own educational interests. It is here where he wrote his first theoretical essay, “On the Investigation of the State of Ether in a Magnetic Field.”
Although Einstein received top grades for physics and mathematics at age sixteen, he failed to pass the general education portion of the examination to enter the Swiss Polytechnic school to pursue a career in physics.
He spent a year focusing on his studies and at age seventeen, he tried the examination a second time and passed, entering their physics teaching program.
In 1903, when Einstein was 24, he secured a job as a patent examiner, helping to decide whether new ideas and inventions worked and were not copies of ones that already existed. Reviewing ideas of other scientists and inventors inspired Einstein to form his own ideas, ones that nobody else thought of.
It is during this time that Einstein joined a discussion group with friends who all had the same interest in physics called “The Olympia Academy.” They met together on a regular basis to discuss science and philosophy.
In 1905, Einstein earned his PhD in physics and in the same year wrote his most famous “1905 papers.” The papers discussed new concepts including the theory of general relativity.
During a solar eclipse in 1919, in accordance with Einstein’s calculations, light from another star appeared bent by the sun’s gravity.
In 1921, Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. He traveled to the United States to meet with other scientists and share his findings.
Einstein spent the rest of his days mainly in the United States, where he eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1940. He liked Americans’ “right to say and think as they pleased,” he said, which encouraged people to be more creative—the same freedom that helped him to pursue his own areas of interest, leading him to develop some of the most important basic concepts in physical science.
Einstein taught himself how to play the violin and was invited to play as a symphony guest in a professional orchestra. The other violinists were amazed at his incredible ability to play. Einstein’s love of music may have been a factor in his high intelligence. He was said to have been playing piano while trying to work out the theory of relativity.
Language, reading and mathematical reasoning are located in the left hemisphere.
Many people are stronger in one hemisphere and weaker in the other. But, having a balanced brain—to be strong in both hemispheres—makes it easier to learn.
To strengthen both left and right hemispheres, it is helpful to do exercises—physical and mental—using both sides of the brain at the same time.
Some activities for a Balanced Brain:
- Play a musical instrument requiring both hands (e.g., drums, violin, guitar, piano, recorder, flute, clarinet)
- Play outdoor games requiring both hands (e.g, archery, baseball, basketball, zoomball, hopper ball)
- Learn to sew, knit or crochet
- Learn knot tying
- Learn to whittle with soap or on more advanced wood projects
- Bead necklaces and bracelets
- Work out math problems while listening to classical music
- Create comics with speech bubbles
CROSSING THE MIDLINE:
To have balanced brain is one step to learning better. Another step is to develop stronger connections between both sides of the brain. This can be achieved through crossing the midline or using one side of the body to cross over to the other side.
Some Activities to Cross the Midline:
- Do cross crawls by placing a hand or elbow on the opposite knee 10 times on each side every day
- Do complex mazes with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
- Draw “lazy eights” for one minute with each hand, making sure the paper is directly in front of your body
- Play games that challenge players to reach from one side of the body to the other side, like the Minute To Win It balloon game.
EATING FOR BRAIN HEALTH:
The part of the brain that connects both sides is called the corpus callosum.
This part of the brain is covered with a white substance called myelin, which is made up of the same healthy fats found Omega-3 rich foods like fish, flaxseeds and walnuts. The more myelin, the stronger the connection between the right and left sides of the brain.
THREE LEVELS OF LEARNING:
Einstein did not think it wise to merely memorize facts without learning how to use them to form new ideas and explain complex problems. In Einstein’s time, the classical teaching method was used to educate children. There are three stages or levels of learning in this method: grammar, logic and rhetoric.
The grammar stage of learning usually takes place in elementary school. It is important to learn the basic math facts, phonics sounds, spelling and grammar rules to do mathematical computations and read and write independently. Einstein struggled in this stage, but still needed to learn these basics to be able to do research and write about his findings. It is important to work hard to master this level before moving on to the next level.
In the logic level, a student is able to use all the knowledge learned in the grammar stage to think about the “why” behind reading and math. At this stage, students will begin to answer more difficult questions by analyzing a story or using basic math facts to solve algebra and geometry. This is the beginning of active learning, where students can begin to form discussion groups, much like Einstein’s Olympia Academy. One good way to form a discussion group is to start a book club and read through the same book, meeting together once a month. Or join a math club, science club or problem solving club that meets regularly.
A student entering the rhetoric level will be able to create a new idea or solve a problem by using the scientific method to attempt to prove it and share findings through writing and giving a presentation. Einstein achieved this level and spent the latter part of his life giving talks about his research and theories. Speakers on the TED talks, are good examples of people who have progressed to the rhetoric level of learning.
Through the development of learning, thinking and problem solving abilities, our children can be like Einstein and have their own ideas worth spreading.