Learning quotes

The quotes below reflect some of the thinking on education and learning through the ages – with a focus on the contrast between education / learning and schooling. They are in no particular order – quotes are simply added at the top of the page.

“Some children are not ready to go to school at five as their motor, social and cognitive skills are not sufficiently developed.”

Clinical Psychologist Dr Paula Barret from Griffith University, Queensland

“The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means to an education.”


“How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.”

Alexandre Dumas

“If the schooling system does not rapidly close the gap between what it does, and what it should do in response to the demands of the 21st century, it will simply become irrelevant.”

David Hood (Our Secondary Schools Don’t Work Anymore – 1998)

“Accepting the key premise that the learner is the primary customer of schooling means others follow naturally. … The core business of schooling is learning, and the quality of learning experienced by all learners should be the standard against which performance is measured.”

David Hood (Our Secondary Schools Don’t Work Anymore – 1998)

“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.”

Agatha Christie

“…the truth is mothers – and fathers – exert far more influence over their children’s intelllectual development than is commonly realised. In fact, more than three decades of research shows that families have greater influence over a child’s academic performance than any other factor – including schools.”

Family Research Council, “The One-House Schoolroom” (Sept 1995 issue of “Family Policy”)

“The child must think, get at the reason-why of things for himself, every day of his life, and more each day than the day before. Children and parents both are given to invert this educational process. The child asks “Why?” and the parent answers, rather proud of this evidence of thought in his child. There is some slight show of speculation even in wondering “Why?” but it is the slightest and most superficial effort the thinking brain produces. Let the parent ask “Why?” and the child produce the answer, if he can. After he has turned the matter over in his mind, there is no harm in telling him – and he will remember it – the reason why. Every walk should offer some knotty problem for the children to think out – “Why does that leaf float on the water, and this pebble sink?” and so on.”

Charlotte Mason, “Home education” (1935)

“Education has for its object the formation of character.”

Herbert Spencer (1820 – 1903)

“Public schools are the nurseries of all vice and immorality.”

Henry Fielding (1707 – 1754)

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes”


“Education is not the filling of a bucket, rather, the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats

“Bless me, what *do* they teach them at these schools?”

CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe

“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”

Sir Walter Scott

“Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio or looked at television. They had loneliness and they knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in the would work.”

Carl Sandburg

“Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing. The rest is mere sheep herding.”

Ezra Loomis Pound

“I’m sure the reason such young nitwits are produced in our schools is because they have no contact with anything of any use in everyday life.”


“The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education.”

Paul Karl Feyerabend

“Education is helping the child realise his potentialities.”

Eric Fromm

“My idea of education is to unsettle the minds of the young and inflame their intellects.”

Robert Maynard Hutchins

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.”

Robert Maynard Hutchins

“The secret of education is respecting the pupil.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Try not to have a good time … This is supposed to be educational.”

Charles Schulz

“Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion has no hold on the mind. Therefore do not use compulsion, but let early education be rather
a sort of amusement; this will better enable you to find out the natural bent of the child.”


“Education … has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading.”

G. M. Trevelyan

“I have no patience with the stupidity of the average teacher of grammar who wastes precious years in hammering rules into children’s heads. For it is not by learning rules that we acquire the powers of speaking a language, but by daily intercourse with those accustomed to express themselves with exactness and refinement and by copious reading of the best authors.”

Erasmus, Reformation theologian and teacher

“Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking – the strain would be too great – but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.”

Charlotte Mason

“The problem with many materials for children is that they ‘talk down’ to the kids. Like many other home school parents, Michael and I have found that you do not need to talk down to your children in order to effectively teach them. In fact, they seem to respond better when they are given a bit of a challenge. Nor does artwork need to betray good taste in order to be captivating. As parents, we should strive to provide a nurturing environment that will help our children develop both a critical mind for detecting truth and a critical eye for appreciating beauty…”

Susan and Michael Card “The Homeschool Journey, Windows into the Heart of a Learning Family”

“we prefer that they [the children] should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not – how much does the youth know when he has finished his education – but how much does he care and about how many orders of things does he care?”

Charlotte Mason

“Education is an admirable thing, but nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.”

Oscar Wilde

“The newer and broader picture [of language development] suggests that the child emerges into literacy by actively speaking, reading and writing in the context of real life, not through filling out phonics worksheets or memorising [lists of look-say] words.”

Thomas Armstong, Ph.D.,”Awakening Your Child’s Natural Genius” (1991)

“We have never been so rich in books. But there has never been a generation when there is so much twaddle in print for children.”

Charlotte Mason,”Home Education” (1935)

“If I were to label much educational material today, I’m afraid a large percentage would definitely be twaddle. How colourfully and scientifically our generation talks down to the little child! What insipid, stupid, dull stories are trotted out!’

Susan Schaeffer MacAuley,”For the Children’s Sake” (1984)

“A love of reading is an acquired taste, not an instinctive preference. The habit of reading is formed in childhood; and a child’s taste in reading is formed in the right direction or in the wrong one while he is under the influence of his parents; and they are directly responsible for the shaping and cultivating of that taste.”

H. Clay Trumbull,”Hints on Child Training” (1890)

“The truly educated person has only had many doors opened. He knows that life will not be long enough to follow everything through fully.”

Susan Schaeffer MacAuley,”For the Children’s Sake” (1984)

“The purpose of education and the schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students.”

Prof. Benjamin Bloom,”father of OBE” (Outcome Based Education)

“In the year 2000 an illiterate person will not be someone who can’t read or write, but someone who is not able to learn, unlearn and learn again.”

Alvin Toffler

“Instruction, and advice, and commands will profit little, unless they are backed up by the pattern of your own life. Your children will never believe you are in earnest, and really wish them to obey you, so long as your actions contradict your counsel… Think not your children will practise what they do not see you do. You are their model picture, and they will copy what you are… will seldom learn habits which they see you despise, or walk in paths in which you do not walk yourself.”

J.C. Ryle, “The Upper Room” (1888)

“It has been said that the essence of teaching is causing another to know. It may similarly be said that the essence of training is causing another to do. Teaching gives knowledge. Training gives skill. Teaching fills the mind. Training shapes the habits. Teaching brings to the child that which he did not have before. Training enables a child to make use of that which is already his possession.”

H. Clay Trumbull, “Hints on child training” (1890)

“I have prevented my kids from watching MTV at home. It’s not safe for kids.”

Tom Freston, President of MTV

“I didn’t even dream it would be so good. But I would never let my children come close to the thing.”

Vladimir Zworykin, agd 92 on his invention, the television

“Keep children as much as possible by themselves … keep them from company, good or bad. … It will be generally found that the most virtuous and the most intellectual, are those who have been brought up with few companions. … in fact his mental resources may be considered entirely unknown and unexplored, who cannot spend his best and happiest hours alone.”

Jacob Abbott (1850)

“For all the most important things in education we have an inside track, since we reckon with the whole person, including heart and soul.”

Ruth Beechick, “A Biblical Psychology of Learning” (1982)

“He who knows how to teach a child is not competent for the oversight of a child’s education unless he also knows how to train a child.”

H Clay Trumbull, “Hints on child training” (1890)

“To paraphrase, “No home schooling family is an island unto itself.” Whether you want to be or not, you and your children are public relations representatives for the home schooling movement. … Your good example can do more to promote the good reputation of home schooling than any other factor.”

Clay and Sally Clarkson, “Educating the whole hearted child” (1996)

“In general the best teacher or care-giver cannot match a parent of even ordinary education and experience.”

Dr Raymond Moore, “Home Grown Kids” (1981)

“Concerns that homeschooled children are marginalised in terms of opportunities for socialisation are generally addressed by homeschooling parents and homeschool support groups through the provision of additional social activities. Not one report in this study suggested that a greater emphasis on social interactions would be beneficial.”

ERO, “The quality of home schooling” (1998)

“Research clearly verifies that the more people there are around your children, the less opportunity they have for the meaningful social contact … Psychologists have found, as many parents know instinctively, that peaceful solitude is necessary for mental health and that the less cluttered your childrens routine, the more secure they will be.”

Dr Raymond Moore, “Home Style Teaching” (1984)

“Research … reveals a significant advantage in social development for home schooled children. they are socially adept, possess a positive self-image, and are active in areas that devlop leadership skills. Thomas Smedley, in a 1992 controlled study, concluded: `… the home educated children in this sample were significantly better socialised and more mature than those in public school.'”

Dr Brian Ray, HSLDA

(Marching to the beat of their own drum! A profile of home education research)

“I am much afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which means are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must be corrupt.”

Martin Luther

“When we make our laws and educational policies primarily for the parents who don’t care, instead of for those who do, those laws are backwards. We urge that the burden of proof be on the state to show which mothers and fathers are not doing their job.”

Dr Raymond Moore, “Home Grown Kids” (1981)

“Therefore, teaching, talk and tale, however lucid or fascinating, effect nothing until self-activity be set up; that is, self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child’s nature.”

Charlotte Mason

“He is educated who knows how to find out what he doesn’t know.”

George Simmel, German Philosopher

“A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink of it deeply, or taste it not, for shallow thoughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking deeply sobers us again.”

Alexander Pope

> Top