Lofty quotes about education from philosophers, poets and other thinkers
August 12, 2019 1:36 PM   Subscribe

What are some of the best quotes about learning, education, and philosophical thinking and how they affect human life?

I'm looking for short quotes of a sentence or two that contain volumes of meaning about education's importance.

One of my favourites is:
"The roots of education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet." - Aristotle ( I think).

Is there a snippet from Plato's Allegory of the Cave that could be used in the same manner?

Looking for as many examples as possible from philosophers, authors, basically whoever, even poets! I want to refer to education in the more lofty sense and not just simply the ability to read / write. Education in the sense of expanding who you are and your ability to think. Thanks!
posted by winterportage to Education (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Paulo Freire has a bunch of great quotes on education.

This one might be a little long, but I like it: "The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves."
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:43 PM on August 12

Learning is a deep human need, like mating and eating, and like all such needs it is meant to be deeply pleasurable to human beings.
James Paul Gee, Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul: Pleasure and Learning
posted by oflinkey at 1:51 PM on August 12

One more: I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.
Steven Wright
posted by oflinkey at 1:54 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]

John Dewey is a well-known educational philosopher. He wrote Experience and Education and Democracy and Education, among others. It's been awhile since I've read them, so I don't have a pithy quote in my back pocket, but it is a short read or you could just google John Dewey quotes depending on what you're using this for.
posted by kochenta at 2:02 PM on August 12

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

-Nelson Mandela
posted by oceano at 2:16 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Here are some great quotes from Maria Montessori:

The greatest sign of success for a teacher... is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’

One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

posted by agatha_magatha at 2:25 PM on August 12

Above the stage of the theater in Royce Hall at the University of California Los Angeles is written:

“Education is learning to use the tools which the race has found indispensable.”

I had always assumed this was a quote from philosopher Josiah Royce, the building's namesake, but apparently it is a thought from UCLA's first CEO, Ernest Carroll Moore.

(It occurs to me in preview that his choice of words might be found objectionable; by 'race' I had always tacitly understood that 'human race' was meant. Wikipedia however informs us that Moore had an interest in eugenics and attended certain Nazi events, so it's likely enough that he construed the term in a narrower sense. I'm posting this comment anyway, somewhat saddened, for what it's worth.)
posted by bertran at 7:37 PM on August 12

Perhaps not "lofty" but certainly epic: The West Wing's Sam Seaborn on education.

Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That's my position. I just haven't figured out how to do it yet.
posted by MiraK at 8:36 PM on August 12

Einstein is quite a good source for this sort of thing, see e.g. here.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence."
posted by leibniz at 8:59 PM on August 12

nthing kochenta. Any list of quotes from John Dewey will fit this bill.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

“The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.”

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth, something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.”
posted by Beardman at 9:38 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Slightly devil's advocate, from the poet Charles Wright:

"For knowledge, add, for wisdom, take away."
posted by Beardman at 9:40 PM on August 12

Timon consulted someone about his children’s education. ‘Let them,’ this man said, ‘be taught matters they will never understand.’ (Goethe)
posted by dudleian at 11:22 PM on August 12

I saw this quote from Toni Morrison last week. Thought it might be relevant:

"I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game."

I've also recently been reading bell hooks's Teaching to Transgress, and while I can't pull a specific quote from it right now, it might be helpful.
posted by 6and12 at 2:52 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]

Latin is a lighted lamp that leads to a mastery of English.

The old saw about "Give a man a fish..., Teach a man to fish, ...."
posted by SemiSalt at 5:01 AM on August 13

From James Madison:

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
posted by ashirys at 12:44 PM on August 13

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