Recently, I read a page of “Quotes On Education” from the Readers Digest. Having taught full-time for thirty-one years and often times using quotes on education in my writings to my students, I found their list to be interesting. It was my wife that pointed out the page of quotes. When she did, the first thing that came to my mind was, “this would make a nice posting for my blog.” Well, here it is! :-)
My format for this posting will entail using a quote from the Readers Digest and then follow-up comments by me. Hopefully, you find it interesting and insightful.
Another aspect of this post that I really enjoyed, was researching and reading the biographies of the people who were quoted. I included a link for each, for your reading pleasure. Of course, I have written in other posts about teaching, usually teaching mathematics, but this is the first time I’ve approached education from this perspective. Enjoy!
“A good education is the next best thing to a pushy mother.” —Charles M. Schulz
There is an implication in this quote that a “pushy mother” is a powerful force in a life. I do find this humorous and valid to the extent that in order to be successful in life, we need to push ourselves like a “pushy mother” would be expected to do. In my experience, pushing yourself to study for the purpose of learning is a formidable and worthwhile task.
“[Learning] is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust … never fear … and never dream of regretting” — T. H. White
This is a very good statement with one exception. Learning is something that many minds easily fear. Why? For many reasons. Many fear the work involved. Many fear change, which learning is almost synonymous with. How can we learn without changing our mind?
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.” —Sydney J. Harris (journalist)
This, of course, is using a metaphor to clarify the purpose of education. There is some merit to it, but I challenge the implication, as I see it, that education doesn’t include reflection. In my opinion, we need both, a “mirror and a window” in order to describe the purpose of education. I think the purpose of education is, “to turn mirrors into windows and windows into mirrors.”
“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” —Will Durant
This is another version of Socrates’ teachings of, “know thyself” and “the only thing I know is that I don’t know anything.” These have stood the test of time.
“I think everyone should go to college and get a degree and then spend six months as a bartender and six months as a cabdriver. Then they would really be educated.” —Al McGuire, basketball coach and commentator
I believe Al McGuire is referring to the value of empathy. Sometimes, before we are able to know what empathy is, we must experience what it’s like to be in “someone else’s shoes.” Though this is a way of developing the trait of intellectual empathy, I don’t think it is the only way. In fact, ideally, we learn without having to experience. Experience is important but not necessary. The next quote from Pete Seeger, gives a different, but relevant response about the role of experience.
“Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.” —Pete Seeger
A “coming in the back door” view, but extremely insightful.
“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life but in a new way.” —Doris Lessing
A “cute” point of view that describes one aspect of education. I don’t think there is anything we really understand for all of our life. There is always a “time-before” we understood something. This is one of those quotes that offers a point of view describing what is sometimes called the “Aha” moment.
“The mind is not a vessel that needs filling but wood that needs igniting.” —Plutarch
I agree that comparing the mind to a vessel implies limits that don’t exist in our minds. Comparing to wood that needs igniting has value, but I think a better comparison would be to compare the mind to a plant that needs nurturing. I see our minds and learning as something that is constantly changing and needing nurturing like a growing plant.
“Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.” —B. F. Skinner
This is clever, but in my opinion, not true. Here is my version, “Education is what survives when what has been learnt becomes part of our thinking.” :-)
“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” —Benjamin Franklin
I like this. An excellent metaphor that easily explains the value of education for anyone who is a genius or has a trait of genius.
Do you agree with the Readers Digest’s “Quotes On Education?” You know my thoughts. Of course, I just couldn’t answer yes or no. :-)
Please educate me with your comment. :-)