Quotations on Learning
page II

Teachers, who educate children, deserve more honor than parents, who merely gave them birth; for the latter provide mere life, while the former ensure a good life.


A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows and rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The teacher is like the candle, which lights others in consuming itself.

Italian proverb

If kids come to us [teachers] from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.

Barbara Colorose


Where teachers are building temples
With loving and infinite care,
Planning each arch with patience,
Laying each stone with prayer,
The temple the teacher is building
Will last while the ages roll;
For that beautiful unseen temple
Is a child's immortal soul.


What is done to children, they will do to society.

Karl A. Menninger


America's future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what it is taught, hence we must watch what we teach it, and how we live before it.

Jane Addams


Everyone who remembers his own educational experience remembers teachers, not methods or techniques. The teacher is the kingpin of the educational system.

Sidney Hook


One must marvel at the intellectual quality of a teacher who can't understand why children assault one another in the hallway, playground, and city street, when in the classroom the highest accolades are reserved for those who have beaten their peers. In many subtle and some not so subtle ways, teachers demonstrate that what children learn means much less than that they triumph over their classmates. Is this not assault? Classroom defeat is only the pebble that creates widening ripples of hostility. It is self-perpetuating. It is reinforced by peer censure, parental disapproval, and loss of self-concept. If the classroom is a model, and if that classroom models competition, assault in the hallways should surprise no one.

Joseph Wax (adapted)


I sometimes in my sprightly moments consider myself, in my great chair at school, as some dictator at the head of a commonwealth. In this little state I can discover all the great geniuses, all the surprising actions and revolutions of the great world, in miniature. I have several renowned generals but three feet high, and several deep projecting politicians in petticoats. I have others catching and dissecting flies, accumulating remarkable pebbles, cockle shells, &c., with as ardent curiosity as any virtuoso in the Royal Society. Some rattle and thunder out A, B, C, with as much fire and impetuosity as Alexander fought, and very often sit down and cry as heartily upon being outspelt, as Caesar did, when at Alexander's sepulchre he recollected that the Macedonian hero had conquered the world before his age. At one table sits Mr. Insipid, foppling and fluttering, spinning his whirligig , or playing with his fingers, as gaily and wittily as any Frenchified coxcomb brandishes his cane or rattles his snuff-box. At another, sits the polemical divine, plodding and wrangling in his mind about "Adams fall, in which we sinned all," as his Primer has it. In short, my little school. . . . . " "In short, my little school, like the great world, is made up of kings, politicians, divines, L. D's[1], fops, buffoons, fiddlers, sycophants, fools, coxcombs, chimney sweepers, and every other character drawn in history, or seen in the world. Is it not, then, the highest pleasure, my friend, to preside in this little world, to bestow the proper applause upon virtuous and generous actions, to blame and punish every vicious and contracted trick, to wear out of the tender mind every thing that is mean and little, and fire the new-born soul with a noble ardour and emulation? The world affords no greater pleasure.

John Adams' Diary Mar 15, 1756


In a prison they may torture your body; but they do not torture your brains; and they protect you against violence and outrage from your fellow prisoners. In a school you have none of these advantages.

George Bernard Shaw


Our children are brutalized and insensitized if they are made to pull the spinal cord from a living frog : it will be that much easier, subsequently, to harm a dog, a chimpanzee - a human. Thus a more humane ethic - a respect for all living things -is desirable not only for the well-being of non-human animals, but for our own spiritual development as well.

Jane Goodall, Respect for Life, in Clifton Fadiman, ed., Living Philosophies (1990)


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