"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."
"So while it is true that children are exposed to more information and a greater variety of experiences than were children of the past, it does not follow that they automatically become more sophisticated. We always know much more than we understand, and with the torrent of information to which young people are exposed, the gap between knowing and understanding, between experience and learning, has become even greater than it was in the past."
"If learning to read was as easy as learning to talk, as some writers claim, many more children would learn to read on their own. The fact that they do not, despite their being surrounded by print, suggests that learning to read is not a spontaneous or simple skill."
"Today's pressures on middle-class children to grow up fast begin in early childhood. Chief among them is the pressure for early intellectual attainment, deriving from a changed perception of precocity. Several decades ago precocity was looked upon with great suspicion. The child prodigy, it was thought, turned out to be a neurotic adult; thus the phrase "early ripe, early rot!"
"A man of sense and energy, the late head of the Farm School in Boston Harbor, said to me, "I want none of your good boys,Mgive methe bad ones." And this is the reason, I suppose, why, as soon as the children are good, the mothers are scared, and think they are going to die."