My English Teacher"Imagination is more important than knowledge," my English teacher says.  He doesn't say why; he just believes it. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both are important, but either can be called on to solve problems and to exist in the world.  For example, I used to sponsor a group which competed in Creative Problem Solving activities.  The problems required knowledge, but the group lost points if they didn't solve the problem in a creative, out-of-box way.  The program was brought to fruition as a way to get kids to think creatively and with much imagination about the problems we face as a state, nation, and world community.  Of course, this program was fail-safe and imagination in children is usually not limited.  When the adults of the world face the issues of world hunger, peace, terrorism, etc.  they rely more on knowledge than is no longer fail-safe, and there are very real consequences if a plan does not succeed.

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting proposition. Since your teacher does not give reasons for his position, I suspect he wants you to think your way through this, to use your own knowledge and imagination. "Imagination" is a word for intelligence and creative thinking. In this respect, then, the argument could be made that intelligence and creativity is more important than an amassing of facts and information. However, knowledge also encompasses human skills, as well as the understanding of all that has come before us in human history. Without knowledge, we would spend every day reinventing the wheel.

There is no correct answer to this question. Knowledge without the imagination to employ it in problem solving is static; without imagination, human progress stops.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, like many of the other posters, believe that both attributes are important. A person can have all the creativity and imagination he needs to solve a problem (such as Post #8 describes), but he must know how to read in order to answer a question; he must know how to express his imagination or thoughts so that another person can understand it.

On the other hand, knowledge without imagination does not seem to provide advancement in the human race. If we just sat around absorbing knowledge and had no imagination to think "what if," then we would not have all the inventions or creative techniques that have made life more interesting and comfortable.

marbar57 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I disagree with what your teacher said.  Neither one is more important than the other and neither one can exist without the other.

Take English Grammar for instance:  We learn certain rules to follow in speaking, writing, and reading to master our language, and then we can use our imaginations to write almost anything!  I think we have to have the basic knowledge in place so that our creativity comes across in a form that others can read and understand!  Otherwise it's a confused jumble of words and phrases that really don't make sense to the reader.



brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have a slightly different take.  Certainly both imagination and knowledge are important and integral to our progress as humans and individuals, but without imagination would we ever pursue knowledge?  Ever gain and expand our knowledge and technology?  I could make a rather abtract but intriguing argument that all knowledge is the collective result of previous imagination.

Then again, it is very late on a Friday.  I should probably just go to bed.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I completely agree with the second post here.  There is no way you can say one is more important than the other.  It totally depends on the situation.

If you're driving a car, I hope you have knowledge of what pedals to step on so you don't run me over.  But if you are writing a paper, I might want you to have more imagination...

luvlyrazia | Student

Imagination is the key to knowledge and more knowledge develops the ability to imagine.So both are related.

nusratfarah | Student

Yes, though your has said it vaguely not giving enough reasons, but it is true. Especially, in case of learning process, you need to be imaginative and creative a lot. Being enough knowledgeable on certain topics are definitely necessary, but what is more essential than that is your creativity power. If you aren't enough imaginative and creative, you won't be able to deal with a topic to a large extent or extensively; your knowledge will be utilized within a limited boundary. I can share a personal experience: very recently, in one of our exams, the ELT question appeared in such an unexpected and twisted way that it required a lot of creative thinking, those who read too much and came with sufficient 'knowledge', but lacked the power to think, imagine and create instantly in the exam hall, failed to utilize their knowledge, as a result, though they worked hard, could not write properly. So, I personally believe what your teacher says from my heart and soul that imagination comes first, without it, knowledge is incomplete.

krishna-agrawala | Student

All people prefer and use one of imagination and knowledge more than the other. Some prefer imagination while others prefer knowledge, and the relative weightage of these two varies widely among people. People who have prefer imagination more than the knowledge tend to use imagination and over a period develop better imaginative capacity than the ability to acquire and use knowledge. Something similar happens to people who prefer knowledge. They develop better ability to use knowledge.

However it is not right to say that either imagination or knowledge is better. Different tasks need different capability. You cannot have a good poet with poor imagination and a good historian wit poor ability to acquire and use knowledge.

epollock | Student

Knowledge always supersedes everything. If you are creative, then you have to have some knowledge or creativity to change the knowledge you have. It's fine to be a creative engineer, but you have to know engineering principles first.