"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."
"Casting an eye on the education of children, from whence I can make a judgment of my own, I observe they are instructed in religious matters before they can reason about them, and consequently that all such instruction is nothing else but filling the tender mind of a child with prejudices."
"We do not have to get our children to learn; only to allow and encourage them in their learning. We do not have to dictate what they should learn; only to discern and respond to what it is that they are learning. Such responsiveness is at once the most educational and the most loving."
"Plato--who may have understood better what forms the mind of man than do some of our contemporaries who want their children exposed only to "real" people and everyday events--knew what intellectual experience made for true humanity. He suggested that the future citizens of his ideal republic begin their literary education with the telling of myths, rather than with mere facts or so-called rational teachings."
"The true use of Shakespeare or of Cervantes, of Homer or of Dante, of Chaucer or of Rabelais, is to augment one's own growing inner self.... The mind's dialogue with itself is not primarily a social reality. All that the Western Canon can bring one is the proper use of one's own solitude, that solitude whose final form is one's confrontation with one's own mortality."