"We teach boys to be such men as we are. We do not teach them to aspire to be all they can. We do not give them a training as if we believed in their noble nature. We scarce educate their bodies. We do not train the eye and the hand. We exercise their understandings to the apprehension and comparison of some facts, to a skill in numbers, in words; we aim to make accountants, attorneys, engineers; but not to make able, earnest, great- hearted men."
"Minerva House ... was "a finishing establishment for young ladies," where some twenty girls of the ages from thirteen to nineteen inclusive, acquired a smattering of everything and a knowledge of nothing."
"We must abandon completely the naive faith that school automatically liberates the mind and serves the cause of human progress; in fact, we know that it may serve any cause. [It] may serve tyranny as well as truth, war as well as peace, death as well as life . . . whether it is good or evil depends, not on the laws of learning, but on the conception of life and civilization that gives it substance and direction. In the course of history, education has served every purpose and doctrine contrived by man. If it is to serve the cause of human freedom, it must be explicitly designed for that purpose."
"It is strange to contemplate how little sympathy or encouragement the great mass of people have with one who differs from them in tastes, to the extent of desiring an education, while they are content with little or none."
"The old saying of Buffon's that style is the man himself is as near the truth as we can get--but then most men mistake grammar for style, as they mistake correct spelling for words or schooling for education."
"At the heart of the educational process lies the child. No advances in policy, no acquisition of new equipment have their desired effect unless they are in harmony with the child, unless they are fundamentally acceptable to him."
"Education must have two foundations--morality as a support for virtue, prudence as a defence for self against the vices of others. By letting the balance incline to the side of morality, you only make dupes or martyrs; by letting it incline to the other, you make calculating egoists."
"The process of education in the oldest profession in the world is like any other educational process, in that it requires time and effort and patience; it can only be acquired by taking one step at a time, though the steps become accelerated after the first few."
"At the utmost, the active-minded young man should ask of his teacher only mastery of his tools. The young man himself, the subject of education, is a certain form of energy; the object to be gained is economy of his force; the training is partly the clearing away of obstacles, partly the direct application of effort. Once acquired, the tools and models may be thrown away."
"it is best then that the buried word remain buried for we were intended to appreciate only its fruits and not the secret principle activating them to know this would be to know too much. Meanwhile it is possible to know just enough, and this is all we were supposed to know, toward which we have been straining all our lives."
"We have tried so hard to adulterate our hearts, and have so greatly abused the microscope to study the hideous excrescences and shameful warts which cover them and which we take pleasure in magnifying, that it is impossible for us to speak the language of other men."