"The hardiest skeptic who has seen a horse broken, a pointer trained, or has visited a menagerie or the exhibition of the Industrious Fleas, will not deny the validity of education. "A boy," says Plato, "is the most vicious of all beasts;" and in the same spirit the old English poet Gascoigne says, "A boy is better unborn than untaught."
"We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up, namely, in Education."
"The great object of Education should be commensurate with the object of life. It should be a moral one; to teach self-trust: to inspire the youthful man with an interest in himself; with a curiosity touching his own nature; to acquaint him with the resources of his mind, and to teach him that there is all his strength, and to inflame him with a piety towards the Grand Mind in which he lives. Thus would education conspire with the Divine Providence."
"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 webelieved 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."
"Neither years nor books have yet availed to extirpate a prejudice then rooted in me, that a scholar is the favorite of Heaven andearth, the excellency of his country, the happiest of men. His duties lead him directly into the holy ground where other men's aspirations only point. His successes are occasions of the purest joy to all men. Eyes is he to the blind; feet is he to the lame. His failures, if he is worthy, are inlets to higher advantages."
"The Roman rule was, to teach a boy nothing that he could not learn standing. The old English rule was, "All summer in the field, and all winter in the study." And it seems as if a man should learn to plant, or to fish, or to hunt, that he might secure his subsistence at all events, and not be painful to his friends and fellow men."
"But in a hundred high schools and colleges, this warfare against common-sense still goes on. Four, or six, or ten years, the pupilis parsing Greek and Latin, and as soon as he leaves the University, as it is ludicrously called, he shuts those books for the last time. Some thousands of young men are graduated at our colleges in this country every year, and the persons who, at forty years, still read Greek, can all be counted on your hand. I never met with ten. Four or five persons I have seen who read Plato. But is not this absurd, that the whole liberal talent of this country should be directed in its best years on studies which lead to nothing?"
"We are students of words: we are shut up in schools, and colleges, and recitation-rooms, for ten or fifteen years, and come out atlast with a bag of wind, a memory of words, and do not know a thing."
"The intelligent have a right over the ignorant, namely, the right of instructing them. The right punishment of one out of tune, isto make him play in tune; the fine which the good, refusing to govern, ought to pay, is, to be governed by a worse man; that his guards shall not handle gold and silver, but shall be instructed that there is gold and silver in their souls, which will make men willing to give them every thing which they need."
"The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind?"
"There is no teaching until the pupil is brought into the same state or principle in which you are; a transfusion takes place; he is you, and you are he; then is a teaching; and by no unfriendly chance or bad company can he ever lose the benefit."
"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."