In today’s article, I shall emphasise the importance of imagination and creativity in education. I shall use two persons as models, Albert Einstein (1879-1955), the famous theoretical physicist from Germany who became a refugee in America, and Haakon Ellingsen (b. 2004), the founder and CEO of the Norwegian IT company named the ‘Ellingsen Group’.

They inspire us all, especially young people. Albert Einstein is unsurpassed, of course, but Haakon Ellingsen is one of our time’s ‘wiz kids’, successful as a company founder when he was just 15 or 16, working with other geniuses who are as young or younger than himself. I offer my deepest admiration. It is my claim that many youngsters, in Norway, Pakistan and anywhere else, could do fantastic things if we had support systems for them, and indeed education systems that emphasise imagination and creativity. Today, I would say that the wiz kids become great despite the education systems, not because of them. Imagine what a great world we could have—and will have—with new and different education systems. Albert Einstein was not only a scientific genius; he was also an artist and philosopher—and he was a man with faults and flaws in his everyday life, like the rest of us.

Besides, he had a form of the mental disorder called ‘Asperger Syndrome’, also termed the ‘disorder of the genius’, because of the brain’s ability to focus deeply on specific, limited issues, yet, at the same time, often with poor social antennas. I have spent my own life in the field of pedagogy, sociology and practical education in several countries.

Recently, I have more vigorously begun questioning how we educate our children and youth, and how we fail to encourage the young in pursuing their education and learning, gain self-confidence, and dare to follow their imagination and calling to do good and right, and become clever at what they are interested in. Albert Einstein emphasised being clever and using our gifts and living up to our potential. But he also said that at the end of our life’s journey, we should be able to say that we have tried to do good and right for others, it is the most important aspect of our life.

Often, I feel it is the ‘cleverest’ students, those who score highest at exams are the least creative, or at least not the most creative; in any case, they have had to leave most of their creativity till they have passed all exams. Luckily, though, human beings are also robust, so there is still hope that at least some of them will still be able to re-discover and let lose their imagination and creative genius.

I believe many of the young computer wiz kids are exactly such people, and I wouldn’t be surprised if not the same disorder that Einstein had, is also overrepresented in many of the geniuses of our time. A few days ago, I listened to the ‘Political Summer Quarter’ on NRK, the Norwegian State Broadcasting. Haakon Ellingsen at Elverum, Norway, was interviewed. He is the 18-year-old founder and CEO of an IT Company called the ‘Ellingsen Group’. The company has about eighty developers and designers, twenty-five of them full-time. Haakon started working on his bold dream of establishing his own IT company when he was just fifteen. He has invested quite a bit of money in the company, made from separate profits from petroleum shares in his home country’s oil and gas riches. Now when Haakon has turned 18, the age of maturity in Norway, he is legally responsible for his company’s operations; earlier, his mother had to agree and sign for him, including when he dropped out of upper secondary school to spend most of his time on the company and his bold ideas, his mother had to agree. But he hasn’t quite given up school, and he is a private candidate for a full secondary school certificate, sitting for exams at his own pace.

Recently, the ‘Ellingsen Group’ established a new app, ‘Bloomful’, to help young people access psychological expertise fast and easy from anywhere in the world, not having to stay on waiting lists, such as required in Norway, where the otherwise excellent health system can’t provide services fast enough unless it is an acute emergency, which would be difficult to say in advance. The developer of the new app has just turned 16, and Haakon says that this is just one example of new innovative ideas, where he is surprised that the government and private sector providers have not come up with smart solutions themselves, long ago. I am certainly impressed by Haakon Ellingsen; there are many like him if given a chance and if they take the chance. Together with the rest of us, they will make the world a better place for everyone. We can’t all be Einstein or Ellingsen, but we can do our best.