"The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows."
"I am not of the opinion generally entertained in this country [England], that man lives by Greek and Latin alone; that is, by knowing a great many words of two dead languages, which nobody living knows perfectly, and which are of no use in the common intercourse of life. Useful knowledge, in my opinion, consists of modern languages, history, and geography; some Latin may be thrown into the bargain, in compliance with custom, and for closet amusement."
"It is strange to contemplate how little sympathy or encouragement the great mass of people have with one who differs from them intastes, to the extent of desiring an education, while they are content with little or none."
"It is no small mischief to a boy, that many of the best years of his life should be devoted to the learning of what can never be of any real use to any human being. His mind is necessarily rendered frivolous and superficial by the long habit of attaching importance to words instead of things; to sound instead of sense."
"Those who first introduced compulsory education into American life knew exactly why children should go to school and learn to read: to save their souls.... Consistent with this goal, the first book written and printed for children in America was titled Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in either England, drawn from the Breasts of both Testaments for their Souls' Nourishment."
"We must abandon completely the naive faith that school automatically liberates the mind and serves the cause of human progress; infact, 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."
"A good education ought to help people to become both more receptive to and more discriminating about the world: seeing, feeling, and understanding more, yet sorting the pertinent from the irrelevant with an ever finer touch, increasingly able to integrate what they see and to make meaning of it in ways that enhance their ability to go on growing."
"The proper aim of education is to promote significant learning. Significant learning entails development. Development means successively asking broader and deeper questions of the relationship between oneself and the world. This is as true for first graders as graduate students, for fledging artists as graying accountants."
"Experiences in order to be educative must lead out into an expanding world of subject matter, a subject matter of facts or information and of ideas. This condition is satisfied only as the educator views teaching and learning as a continuous process of reconstruction of experience."
"It is part of the educator's responsibility to see equally to two things: First, that the problem grows out of the conditions of the experience being had in the present, and that it is within the range of the capacity of students; and, secondly, that it is such that it arouses in the learner an active quest for information and for production of new ideas. The new facts and new ideas thus obtained become the ground for further experiences in which new problems are presented."
"There is, I think, no point in the philosophy of progressive education which is sounder than its emphasis upon the importance of the participation of the learner in the formation of the purposes which direct his activities in the learning process, just as there is no defect in traditional education greater than its failure to secure the active cooperation of the pupil in construction of the purposes involved in his studying."
"Minerva House ... was "a finishing establishment for young ladies," where some twenty girls of the ages from thirteen to nineteeninclusive, acquired a smattering of everything and a knowledge of nothing."
"The pathetic thing about the great wellintentioned mass of college and highschool students is that they have been so badly educated they have no knowledge or understanding of the complications of the world we live in and they have been so conditioned and prejudiced by generations of ill-taught teachers that they refuse to see a fact when they are confronted with one."
"Philosophy, astronomy, and politics were marked at zero, I remember. Botany variable, geology profound as regards the mud stains from any region within fifty miles of town, chemistry eccentric, anatomy unsystematic, sensational literature and crime records unique, violin player, boxer, swordsman, lawyer, and self-poisoner by cocaine and tobacco."