Curious, Flexible, and Jovial: A Portrait of Albert Einstein from “Dear Professor Einstein”

The book Dear Professor Einstein (2002) begins with a foreword by his granddaughter. The book starts out by portraying Einstein and his life and loves. It then goes on to collect letters to Einstein from children around the world–and Einstein’s response to each!

We find explicitly stated what we may now take for granted: Albert Einstein’s brilliance is found in his deep curiosity. As a boy, Einstein hated strict and rigid schooling. Thus, he thrived when he could study independently without being punished or disciplined harshly by teachers for, say, not answering a question quick enough.

Throughout his life, we see how he detested strict and rigid authority. He was even citizenshipless for a period of several years because, partly, he did not want to join the military as a young man.

Albert Einstein felt the irony that came with his success. He commented that it was ironic that he had become an authority when he hated authority.

The letters in the book, by kids all over America and the world, pose curiosity-filled questions to the famous man. He answers honestly, carefully, and gently, without being patronizing.

Einstein is sometimes known as the first media celebrity. His accomplishments became known during a time of a media revolution.

There are several lessons we take take from Albert Einstein.

First, while discipline, rigidity, and harsh structure may be necessary for some, a degree of flexibility is agreeable in personal character and organizational structure in order to achieve maximum creativity of thought.

Second, it is extremely admirable that Albert Einstein took all this time to reply to the questions of children. Many of us, whether academics or not, seek to rise in the ranks and get the utmost esteem of adult colleagues. Albert Einstein appears to have remained humble and, as they say, “kept it real.” He loved that children had a kind of curiosity and way of looking at the world with fresh eyes because Einstein himself managed to keep quite a bit of that in adulthood.

Third, if anyone deserves fame, it’s people like Albert Einstein. He stood for the oppressed, loved justice, and managed to stay fresh in thought all at the same time. He came to detest war so much that he advocated a one-world government to avoid conflicts.

Dear Professor Einstein reminds us that greatness isn’t the gratification of the personal ego. It’s honest, courageous in thought, and modest.


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