On our logo we have the phrase “Zenler, The art to interactive eLearning.” Often I’ll take a look at that and wonder, “So where is the art here?” “We are systems and software guys teamed with educators and trainers, so where is the art?” As I was pondering this I thought back to an evening a long time ago at a local gym that I had a membership at with all the spa accoutrements including a great Jacuzzi. It was in this setting that I learned about someone who’d I’d have never thought of as an Artist.
As usual I was speaking with a friend on some current issues and quoted a saying of Einstein’s “Perfection of means and confusion of ends is the ailment of our times.” From across the Jacuzzi I heard someone say, “Albert Einstein”; it came from a man obviously in his early to mid sixties. We invited him to join our discussion and what we heard has never left me.
Dr. Ben is how I will refer to him here held a PhD in Chemistry, Physics and was an Episcopal Canon and head master of a local private K-12 school. He was a graduate of the University of Tennessee and spent his first working years in Oak Ridge working with Heir Doctor, which is how he referred to Einstein. With my education in physics the conversation intrigued me immensely and so did the fact that Dr. Ben revealed that Heir Doctor didn’t like mathematics but it was the language he was forced to use to work at his craft. Dr. Ben knew this since in the last 3 years he worked with Heir Doctor he kept his phone book and balanced his checkbook for him. WOW!!! He was challenged with numbers? So was I, I could do a calculus equation but often messed it up when I had to plug in the numbers, Heir Doctor had the same problem, I was in good company!!!
Dr. Ben then related to me how Heir Doctor actually thought and did so through a story which I’ll tell you now. In that day, 1949 Einstein and those closing in on his IQ would use rooms full of PhD’s just out of school to do the grunt work for them. They would put 6 to 10 guys in a portable building like what we had in school here and they would have desks or share tables and three of the four walls were covered with chalkboards where they would work out the problems laid out for them by Heir Doctor.
One day they all felt that they had worked through the problem thoroughly and were ready to present the solution to Einstein. When he came in they all stood proud knowing they had solved a key element that would allow the overall project to move forward. Dr. Ben told me of how they waited as Heir Doctor walked around the room looking at the massive equation that took 3 6 day weeks and 6 PhD’s to work through.
After just 5 minute Einstein turned around and said “It will not work!” They were shocked and very upset and let him know it, “With all respect Heir Doctor there are six of us here, all tops in our class and all with Doctoral degrees and we concur that our solution is right! Frankly sir how can you in just 5 minutes determine that it won’t work?” They were all insulted but the next comments were what Dr. Ben wanted to related to me.
Einstein replied, “Look at this as painting gentlemen; a nice pastoral scene with green flowing hills and a stream running through the middle of it. There is a young boy pushing his sister on a swing in a tree as their parents are preparing a picnic. Down the hill is a small calf by its mother as she eats. Flowers are beginning to bloom and sway in what must be a gentle spring breeze.” They all were wondering “So?” He continued, “The stream was moving and the waters were channeled by the rocky bed with stones protruding through the surface” with eyes closed, “you can almost hear it gentlemen.” Then he opened his eyes and issued a challenge, “but in this scene gentlemen” pointing to the blackboards, “we have a beer can sitting in the stream rusting.” (They were made of steel back then) “And gentlemen your rusty beer can is over in that corner of the room.” Pointing the far right corner. He turned and grabbed his hat and coat said good bye and to call him when they had the solution and left. It was 3 days later that they found the error which was minute.
The point that Dr. Ben made afterwards was that Heir Doctor was really a romantic at heart and had an artist’s soul. In one of his quotes Einstein stated, “My mission is not to disprove God but to discover the beauty and wonders of His creation.”
In tackling the complex problems before him he envisioned the solution not as an equation but as a painting or a picture. Never would I have thought that Einstein would have such a thought process, I’d always thought of him immersed in complex equations but instead he was a dreamer with the passionate soul of an artist!
Over the years we knew each other Dr. Ben and I spoke more about this story and others about Heir Doctor, how his passion was evident in the vision he had for the work he was doing. And he also made me aware of how he had challenged some very bright and accomplished young men using his artistic vision.
So, “The Art of Interactive eLearning” is for us at Zenler something that comes from the heart. But really, as we progress in to the world of GBL we are looking for users of our products who have a passion and the vision to practice their Art and Craft with the vision of Einstein!