Thoughts on Education
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"...XXVI. The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we need to change our present concept of education. Education is not properly an industry, and its proper use is not to serve industries, either by job-training or by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically, socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering or "accessing" what we now call "information" - which is to say facts without context and therefore without priority. A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing what things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.

XXVII. The first thing we must begin to teach our children (and learn ourselves) is that we cannot spend and consume endlessly. We have got to learn to save and conserve. We do need a "new economy", but one that is founded on thrift and care, on saving and conserving, not on excess and waste. An economy based on waste is inherently and hopelessly violent, and war is its inevitable by-product. We need a peaceable economy."- Wendell Berry, Thoughts in the Presence of Fear

"Educationalists in general agree that imagination is important, but they would have it cultivated as separate from intelligence, just as they would separate the latter from the activity of the hand. They are the vivisectionists of the human personality. In the school they want children to learn dry facts of reality, while their imagination is cultivated by fairy tales, concerned with a world that is certainly full of marvels, but not the world around them in which they live. On the other hand, by offering the child the story of the universe, we give him something a thousand times more infinite and mysterious to reconstruct with his imagination, a drama no fable can reveal." Maria Montessori, To Educate the Human Potential, 1948.

Many have marked the speed with which Muad'Dib learned the necessities of Arrakis. The Bene Gesserit, of course, know the basis of this speed. For the others, we can say that Muad'Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn. And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It's shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Muad'Dib knew that every experience carries its lesson. --from "The Humanity of Muad'Dib" by the Princess Irulan, Frank Herbert, "Dune."

If education in a foreign language poses a threat to the development of the mother tongue, or leads to its neglect, then the roots of the mother tongue will not be sufficiently nourished or they gradually be cut off altogether... [A] situation may gradually develop in which the child will only have two surface flowers, two languages, neither of which she commands in the way a monolingual would command the mother tongue...And if the roots have been cut off, nothing permanent can grow anymore.

Skutnabb-Kangas, pp.52-53, Linguistic Genocide and Bilingual Education.

"If the colleges were better, if they really had it, you would need to get the police at the gates to keep order in the inrushing multitude. See in college how we thwart the natural love of learning by leaving the natural method of teaching what each wishes to learn, and insisting that you shall learn what you have no taste or capacity for. The college, which should be a place of delightful labor, is made odious and unhealthy, and the young men are tempted to frivolous amusements to rally their jaded spirits. I would have the studies elective. Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself. The marking is a system for schools, not for the college; for boys, not for men; and it is an ungracious work to put on a professor."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Albert Einstein

"The school has always been the most important means of transferring the wealth of tradition from one generation to the next. This applies today in an even higher degree than in former times, for through modern development of economic life, the family as bearer of tradition and education has become weakened. The continuance and health of human society is therefore in a still higher degree dependent on school than formally."- New York Times, October 16, 1936

"The point is to develop the childlike inclination for play and the childlike desire for recognition and to guide the child over to important fields for society. Such a school demands from the teacher that he be a kind of artist in his province."- Out of - My Later Years.

"To me the worst thing seems to be a school principally to work with methods of fear, force and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the sound sentiments, the sincerity and the self-confidence of pupils and produces a subservient subject."- Ideas and Opinions.

"One should guard against preaching to young people success in the customary form as the main aim in life. The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community."

"With the affairs of active human beings it is different. Here knowledge of truth alone does not suffice; on the contrary this knowledge must continually be renewed by ceaseless effort, if it is not to be lost. It resembles a statue of marble which stands in the desert and is continuously threatened with burial by the shifting sands. The hands of science must ever be at work in order that the marble column continue everlastingly to shine in the sun. To those serving hands mine also belong."- On Education

"One should guard against inculcating a young man (or woman) with the idea that success is the aim of life, for a successful man normally receives from his peers an incomparably greater portion than than the services he has been able to render them deserve. The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving. The most important motive for study at school, at the university, and in life is the pleasure of working and thereby obtaining results which will serve the community. The most important task for our educators is to awaken and encourage these psychological forces in a young man (or woman). Such a basis alone can lead to the joy of possessing one of the most precious assets in the world - knowledge or artistic skill." 

Maria Montessori:

"The secret of good teaching is to regard the child's intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination. Our aim is not only to make the child understand, and still less to force him to memorize, but so to touch his imagination as to enthuse him to his innermost core. We do not want complacent pupils, but eager ones. We seek to sow life in the child rather than theories, to help him in his growth, mental and emotional as well as physical, and for that we must offer grand and lofty ideas to the human mind."

"It is self-evident that the possession of and contact with real things brings, above all, a real quantity of knowledge. Instruction becomes a living thing. Instead of being illustrated, it is brought to life. Experience is a key for the intensification of instruction given inside the school."

"When the child has been allowed a little room in the world, in time he proclaims as the first sign of his eager defense: 'Me want to do it!' Me do It! In the special environment prepared for him in our schools, the children themselves found a sentence that expressed their inner need: 'Help me to do it by myself!' His work will no longer weigh him down."

"To do well, it is necessary to aim at giving the elementary age child an idea of all fields of study and the sciences, not in precise detail, but an impression. The idea is to sow the seeds of knowledge at this age, when a sort of sensitive period for the imagination exists. The examination of detail in later years stems from this early study of the whole."


"But then, if I am right, certain professors of education must be wrong when they say that they can put a knowledge into the soul which was not there before, like sight into blind eyes.

They undoubtedly say this, he replied.

Whereas, our argument shows that the power and capacity of learning exists in the soul already; and that just as the eye was unable to turn from darkness to light without the whole body, so too the instrument of knowledge can only by the movement of the whole soul be turned from the world of becoming into that of being, and learn by degrees to endure the sight of being, and of the brightest and best of being, or in other words, of the good." - Plato's Allegory of the Cave. & Exploring Plato's Dialogues.


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