I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built
upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself,
he will think more and better, if less "showily". Let him come and go freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions
for himself... Teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of before the child can develop independent
ideas out of actual experiences.
Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller's mentor and friend.
School is established, not in order that it should be convenient for the children to study, but that teachers should be
able to teach in comfort. The children’s conversations, motion, merriment are not convenient for the teacher, and so
in the schools, which are built on the plan of prisons, ... are prohibited. Count Leo Tolstoy
It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely
strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of
freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing
and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe that it would be possible
to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast
to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected
The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately... education produces no effect whatsoever. If it
did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence. in Grosvenor Square.
My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from
being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself. George
The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible
to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible
tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, and brutal violations of common sense and common decency. H.L. Mencken
Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that
the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on their parents. So they provided
jails called school, equipped with tortures called education.
finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just
as well as you.
You are all learners, doers, teachers.
Richard Bach Illusions
In my opinion the
prevailing systems of education are all wrong, from the first stage to the last stage. Eduation begins where it should terminate,
and youth, instead of being led to the development of their faculties by the use of their senses, are made to acquire a great
quantity of words, expressing the ideas of other men instead of comprehending their own faculties, or becoming acquainted
with the words they are taught or the ideas the words should convey.
William Duane "Journal of the
Senate of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," 1822
There are only two places in the world where time takes precedence
over the job to be done. School and prison. William Glasser
It is the State which educates its citizens in
civic virtue, gives them a consciousness of their mission and welds them into unity.
from "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism," 1932.
Teachers are directed to instruct their pupils... and to
awaken in them a sense of their responsibility toward the community of the nation.
Nazi Minister of Education; from "Racial Instruction and the National Community," 1935.
Education rears disciples,
imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and
improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought.
Ludwig von Mises
who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent.
I believe that the testing of the student's achievements in order to see if
he meets some criterion held by the teacher, is directly contrary to the implications of therapy for significant learning.
Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge
and experience, and has little to do with school or college.
I am entirely
certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that
we could have tolerated anything so primitive.
John W. Gardner
We are students of words;
we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bag of
wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Education should not be associated with scholasticism. There are men who have never seen the inside of a university who
are superior to those and worth more to society than those who carried away the highest honors. Herbert Spencer spent three
years at school in all his life. Spinoza spent a very few years and then was expelled. Francis Bacon, the man who gave us
all the fundamentals of what we call now the scientific method, went to school three years, revolted against Aristotle and
left the halls of learning in a huff. Actually, as one walks down the halls of learning and looks at the busts of great, therein,
he is struck by the fact that almost none were formally educated but took the world for their texts and professors. One might
almost say that a professional educator is one who worships a dead illiterate. And one, with some research, might validly
conclude that the surest way to succeed in any profession is to study something else at school.
It seems to me that anything that can be taught to another is relatively inconsequential, and has little or no significant
influence on behavior. I realise increasingly that I am only interested in learnings which significantly influence behavior.
I have come to feel that the only learning which significantly influences behavior is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning.
Such self-discovered learning, truth that has been personally appropriated and assimilated in experience, cannot be directly
communicated to another. As a consequence of the above, I realize that I have lost interest in being a teacher.
- Carl Rogers
It is tempting to impose our goals on other people, particularly on children or our subordinates. It is tempting for society
to try to impose its priorities on everybody. The strategy will however be self-defeating if our goals, or society's goals,
do not fit the goals of the others. We may get our way but we don't get their learning. They may have to comply but they will
not change. We have pushed out their goals with ours and stolen their purposes. It is a pernicious form of theft which kills
the will to learn.
By bells and many other similar techniques they (schools) teach that nothing is worth finishing. The gross error of this
is progressive: if nothing is worth finishing then by extension nothing is worth starting either. Few children are so thick-skulled
they miss the point.
Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood
Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what
1. Confusion 2. Class Position 3. Indifference 4. Emotional Dependency 5. Intellectual Dependency 6. Provisional Self-Esteem
7. One Can't Hide. It is the great triumph of compulsory, government monopoly mass-schooling that among even the best of my
fellow teachers, and among even the best of my students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do things
Childhood placed at a tangent to adulthood, perceived as special and magical, precious and dangerous at once, has turned
into some volatile stuff - hydrogen, or mercury, which has to be contained. The separate condition of the child has never
been so bounded by thinking, so established in law as it is today......How we treat children really tests who we are, fundamentally
conveys who we hope to be.
Children present the best evidence for a psychology of providence. Here I mean more than providential miracles, those amazing
tales of children falling from high ledges without harm, buried under earthquake debris and surviving. Rather, I am referring
to the humdrum miracles when the mark of character appears. All of a sudden and out of nowhere a child shows who she is, what
he must do. These impulsions of destiny frequently are stifled by dysfunctional perceptions and unreceptive surroundings,
so that calling appears in the myriad symptoms of difficult, self-destructive, accident-prone, 'hyper' children - all words
invented by adults in defence of their misunderstanding.
Often it was not in school, but outside of it - in extracurricular activities or during time spent altogether away from
school - that calling appeared. It is as if the image in the heart in so many cases is hampered by the program of tuition
and its time bound regularity.
We live in a hierarchical world in which we defend ourselves ....from our eternal infancy and childhood by insisting on
a graded, necessary elevation through learning and technological sophistication out of the child into the adult. This is not
a true initiation that values both the previous form of existence and the newly attained one; it is a defence against the
humiliating reality of the child.
Education means "to lead out." We seem to understand this as leading away from childhood, but maybe we could think of it
as eliciting the wisdom and talents of childhood itself. As A.S.Neill, founder of the Summerhill School, taught many years
ago, we can trust that the child already has talents and intelligence. We believe that the child intellectually is a tabula
rasa, a blank blackboard, but maybe the child knows more than we suspect.
An eternal question about children is, how should we educate them? Politicians and educators consider more school days
in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certification
for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the
best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part
of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, soul is neglected.
I think children can be very cruel especially in adolescence and if you are slow, and I was (I was in a school which was
quite competitive) you do get a lot of slamming about from the other kids. I don't know about girls, but I know that boys
are very cruel and very tough. It built up a tremendous resentment in me because I was also bad at sport and athletics and
all I could do was play the piano. So I always got the sense in my adolescent years that 'Oh, Hopkins, you know he's, well
he's not worth much, or he's a failure.
The opportunity to develop and practise social skills in school is quite limited. Children spend nearly all their time
in school with other children born during the same academic year as themselves, and a great deal of time outside school as
well. In school, there is little social contact with younger or older children and even less with adults. It is easy to see
how peer mores, values and codes of behaviour become entrenched, resulting in considerable pressure to conform and the threat
of ostracism or exclusion from the group for those who do not. Moreover, up to one and a half hours a day in school is specifically
set aside for social recreation in the playground, where children are thrown together with nothing much to do. It is not surprising
that playground hierarchies emerge and bullying is rife. Alan Thomas
The consequence is that the 'social' skills acquired are those which may be essential for survival in school but have little
applicability in the outside world. There is virtually no opportunity to relate socially to adults in school in order to learn
wider social skills. Ironically, such skills can only be learned outside school hours. Teachers do, of course, set up social
scenarios and discuss with children how to behave in given social circumstances. But these are no substitute for learning
through real-life, dynamic social contact.
Rabindranath Tagore School forcibly snatches away children from a
world full of the mystery of God's own handiwork, full of the suggestiveness of personality. It is a mere method of discipline
which refuses to take into account the individual. It is a manufactory specially designed for grinding out uniform results.
It follows an imaginary straight line of the average in digging its channel of education. But life's line is not the straight
line, for it is fond of playing the see-saw with the line of average, bringing upon its head the rebuke of the school. For
according to the school life is perfect when it allows itself to be treated as dead, to be cut into symmetrical conveniences.
And this was the cause of my suffering when I was sent to school....my mind had to accept the tight-fitting encasement of
the school which, being like the shoes of a mandarin woman, pinched and bruised my nature on all sides and at every movement.
I was fortunate enough in extricating myself before insensibility set in. - Rabindranath Tagore
thousands of years, in thousands of places, families educated their own. This tradition changed not because a better method
was found but because economic conditions required it. To work one had to lreave one's children; one's children, furthermore,
had to be trained for tasks no-one in their purview could be seen doing. For these reasons institutionalised schooling was
invented' and while it adequately addressed a set of economic problems it inspired a new set of human ones that are psychological,
emotional, and even spiritual in nature.
I do not pine for a different place and time. I only point out what we have traded off. I think certain good things are
recoverable, though without the life that once surrounded them they must inevitably take on different meanings. One of these
is the tradition of parental and communal responsibility for the daily instruction of the young. Today this is denied us because
teaching has been institutionalised, a convenience in a time of industry and profit when citizen-labourers perform economic
functions more efficiently without children present. But for whom is such a state of affairs indeed convenient?
Learning theory tells us to teach children as individuals who learn in their own unique manner. The finest possible curriculum
is precisely the one that starts with each child's singular means of learning. Instruction and guidance are best provided
by those with an intimate understanding of the individual child and a deep commitment to the child's education. these principles
derive not merely from the homeschooling movement but from contemporary research into how children learn. They are not merely
adages fabricated by homeschoolers but precepts grounded in a science that should inspire us to reconsider both our roles
as parents and the shape of public education.
School was the unhappiest time of my life and the worst trick it ever played on me was to pretend that it was the world
in miniature. For it hindered me from discovering how lovely and delightful and kind the world can be, and how much of it
is intelligible. - E.M. Forester
What use is it to pile task on task and prolong the days of labour, if at the close the chief object is left unattained?
It is not the fault of the teachers -- they work only too hard already. The combined folly of a civilization that has forgotten
its own roots is forcing them to
shore up the tottering weight of an educational structure that is built upon sand. They
are doing for their pupils the work which the pupils themselves ought to do. For the sole true end of education is simply
this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.
The single most important contribution education can make to a child's development is to help him towards a field where
his talents best suit him, where he will be satisfied and competent. We've completely lost sight of that. Instead we subject
everyone to an education where, if you succeed, you will be best suited to be a college professor... And we evaluate everyone
along the way according to whether they meet that narrow standard of success. We should spend less time ranking children and
more time helping
them identify their natural competencies and gifts, and cultivate those.
There are hundreds and hundreds of ways to succeed and many, many different abilities that will help you get there.
We should use kids' positive states to draw them into learning in the
domains where they can develop competencies....You
learn at your best when you have something you care about and can get pleasure from being engaged in.
Everyone, at present, is in favour of having students learn the
fundamentals. For most people, 'the three R's', or some
variation of them, represent what is fundamental to a learner. However, if one observes a learner and asks oneself, "What
is it that this organism needs without which he cannot thrive?", it is impossible to come up with the answer, "the three R's".
English is not history and history is not science and science is not art and art is not music, and art and music are minor
subjects and English, history and science major subjects, and a subject is something you 'take' and when you have taken it,
you have 'had' it, and if you have 'had' it, you are immune and need not take it again. (The Vaccination Theory of Education?)
Postman & Weingartner
There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals
to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to angelship.