D O C . 4 2 P O P U L A R T E C H N I C A L E D U C AT I O N 3 3 7
Published in Neue Freie Presse, 24 July 1920, Morning Edition, p. 8. A typed draft [45 104] consist-
ing of two unnumbered pages is preserved, which is later dated “July 16, 1920” by Helen Dukas to
match the date of the enclosing letter, Einstein to General Association for Popular Technical
Education, 16 July 1920.
Wilhelm Exner (1840–1931), one of the founders of the Technical Museum for Industry and
Commerce (Technologisches Gewerbemuseum) in Vienna and President of the Austrian Technical
Research Institute (Technische Versuchsanstalt) had asked Einstein to join the association and its
executive committee in early May and again in early July. He enclosed an appeal signed by prominent
individuals and requested a statement from Einstein that might help in overcoming resistance from
humanist circles, which were unwilling to acknowledge the equal value of a technical education (see
Wilhelm Exner to Einstein, 3 July 1920).
For Einstein’s more general concern that knowledge be accessible to an audience wider than a
university elite, see Einstein 1920a (Doc. 33).
Stressing the practical over the doctrinaire, Einstein pointed out that “Prometheus did not begin
the education of humankind with astronomy, but with fire and creative activity . . .” (“Prometheus fing
bei der Menschenerziehung nicht mit der Astronomie an, sondern mit dem Feuer und der bild-
nerischen Werktätigkeit . . .” Moszkowski 1922, p. 77).
Two and a half years earlier, Einstein had published an expression of his pointed contempt for
rote learning (see Einstein 1917h [Vol. 6, Doc. 49]), of which in his opinion language instruction was
the prime example (see Moszkowski 1922, pp. 71–72).
For the dispute over the teaching of pure versus applied mathematics in German high schools,
see Pyenson 1983 and Pyenson 1985, pp. 158–193.
For Einstein’s views on the relation between geometry and our experience of physical objects,
see Einstein 1921c (Doc. 52) and Einstein 1917a (Vol. 6, Doc. 42), pp. 425–427.
Moszkowski 1922, p. 77, quotes Einstein’s opinion on the appropriate teaching method for math-
ematics and science: instead of using abstract definitions, it should be based on demonstrations that
are interesting from a practical standpoint and are intuitively understandable.
Einstein had earlier suggested one method of removing the rough edges of the “hardy child.”
Institutes of technology (Technische Hochschulen), which, in his opinion, were becoming increas-
ingly specialized, should be administratively united with universities (see interview of 18 December
1919 in Neues Wiener Journal, 25 December 1919, p. 5).