Quotations about   teacher

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I was a model child. It was the teacher’s mistake I am sure. The box was drawn on the blackboard and the names of misbehaving children were written in it. As I adored my teacher, Miss Smith, I was destroyed to see my name appear. This was just the first of the many humiliations of my youth that I’ve tried to revenge through my writing. I have never fully exorcised shames that struck me to the heart as a child except through written violence, shadowy caricature, and dark jokes.

Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) American author, poet
Interview with Lisa Halliday, “The Art of Fiction” #208, The Paris Review (Winter 2010)
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On the inspiration behind Dot Adare's 1st Grade teacher putting her into the "naughty box" in The Beet Queen (1986).
Added on 8-Sep-20 | Last updated 8-Sep-20
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EPOPS: You’re mistaken: men of sense often learn from their enemies. Prudence is the best safeguard. This principle cannot be learned from a friend, but an enemy extorts it immediately. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war. And this lesson saves their children, their homes, and their properties.

CHORUS [LEADER]: It appears then that it will be better for us to hear what they have to say first; for one may learn something at times even from one’s enemies.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
The Birds, l. 375ff (414 BC) [tr. Anon. (1812), Ramage (1864)]
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Alt. trans. [Hickie (1853)]:
EPOPS: Yet, certainly, the wise learn many things from their enemies; for caution preserves all things. From a friend you could not learn this, but your foe immediately obliges you to learn it. For example, the states have learned from enemies, and not from friends, to build lofty walls, and to possess ships of war. And this lesson preserves children, house, and possessions.
CHORUS [LEADER]: It is useful, as it appears to me, to hear their arguments first; for one might learn some wisdom even from one's foes.

Alt. trans. [O'Neill (1938)]:
EPOPS: The wise can often profit by the lessons of a foe, for caution is the mother of safety. It is just such a thing as one will not learn from a friend and which an enemy compels you to know. To begin with, it's the foe and not the friend that taught cities to build high walls, to equip long vessels of war; and it's this knowledge that protects our children, our slaves and our wealth.
LEADER OF THE CHORUS: Well then, I agree, let us first hear them, for that is best; one can even learn something in an enemy's school.
Added on 1-Apr-20 | Last updated 1-Apr-20
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One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

Carl Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist
“The Gifted Child” (1942), The Development of Personality, sec. 250 (1954) [tr. Hull]
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Translated from "Der Begabte," Psychologie und Erziehung (1946).
Added on 17-Mar-20 | Last updated 17-Mar-20
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Just as birds sometimes go in search of grain, carrying it in their beaks without tasting it to stuff it down the beaks of their young, so too do our schoolmasters go foraging for learning in their books and merely lodge it on the tip of their lips, only to spew it out and scatter it on the wind.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
The Complete Essays, I:25 “On Schoolmasters [Du pédantisme]”
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Added on 5-Apr-18 | Last updated 5-Apr-18
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As the true object of education is not to render the pupil the mere copy of his preceptor, it is rather to be rejoiced in, than lamented, that various reading should lead him into new trains of thinking.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
The Enquirer, Essay 15 “Of Choice in Reading” (1797)
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Added on 2-Oct-17 | Last updated 2-Oct-17
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Schoolmasters and parents exist to be grown out of.

John Wolfenden (1906-1985) British educator, author
In Sunday Times (London) (13 Jul 1958)
Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) American aphorist, author, educator
Thoughts of a Christian Optimist (1968)
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Added on 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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Sit at the feet of the masters long enough, and they’ll start to smell.

Other Authors and Sources
Sauget’s Law of Education
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Attributed to John Sauget of Urbana, Ill., in Paul Dickson, The Official Rules, "Revised Proverbs" (1978).
Added on 21-Jul-17 | Last updated 21-Jul-17
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The greatest sign of success for a teacher … is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”

Maria Montessori (1870-1952) Italian educator, philosopher, educator, physician
The Absorbent Mind, ch. 27 (1949) [tr. Claremont (1969)]
Added on 7-Jul-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-17
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There is nothing which spreads more contagiously from teacher to pupil than elevation of sentiment: Often and often have students caught from the living influence of a professor a contempt for mean and selfish objects, and a noble ambition to leave the world better than the found it; which they have carried with them throughout life.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
“On Education,” speech, University of St Andrews (1 Feb 1867)
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Added on 30-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering cold iron.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Eclectic Magazine, Vol. 8 (Jan-Jun 1868), and in The Myrtle, Vol. 24, #40 (30 Jan 1875)
Added on 16-Jun-17 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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Those masters who allege the incapacity of tender years, only tacitly reproach their own: those who are incapable of teaching young minds to reason, pretend that it is impossible. The truth is they are fonder of making their pupils talk well than think well; and much the greater number are better qualified to give praise to a ready memory than a sound judgment.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The History of England; in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to His Son, Letter 1 (1764)
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Added on 8-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.

Gail Godwin (b. 1937) American writer
The Odd Woman, ch. 3 (1974)
Added on 2-Jun-17 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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A teacher’s major contribution may pop out anonymously in the life of some ex-student’s grandchild.

Wendell Berry (b. 1934) American farmer, educator, poet, conservationist
“Wallace Stegner and the Great Community,” What Are People For? (1990)
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Added on 19-May-17 | Last updated 19-May-17
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Anybody who teaches a skill, which coaches do, is admirable. But sport doesn’t build character. Character is built pretty much by the time you’re six or seven. Sports reveals character. Sports heightens your perceptions. Let that be enough.

Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001) American author, sportswriter, actor
In Ames Daily Tribune (16 Jan 1974)

Broun used a number of variations of this idea. It was more famously paraphrased in James Michener, Sports in America (1976), as "Sports do not build character. They reveal it." More discussion on this quote here.
Added on 18-Oct-16 | Last updated 18-Oct-16
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People seldom improve when they have no other model but themselves to copy.

Goldsmith - no other model - wist_info quote

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
“On Our Theaters,” The Bee, #11 (13 Oct 1759)
Added on 14-Jul-16 | Last updated 14-Jul-16
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Before all masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who teaches the best.

[La nécessité est, d’ailleurs, de tous les maîtres, celui qu’on écoute le plus et qui enseigne le mieux.]

Verne - masters necesity - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 1, ch. 17 (1874)
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Added on 29-Apr-16 | Last updated 29-Apr-16
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What I mean is that if you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else. That forces you to sort it out in your mind. And the more slow and dim-witted your pupil, the more you have to break things down into more and more simple ideas. And that’s really the essence of programming. By the time you’ve sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you’ve learned something about it yourself.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Added on 8-Jun-15 | Last updated 8-Jun-15
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If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.

Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) American journalist, critic, transcendentalist, reformer [Sarah Margaret Fuller Ossoli]
(Attributed)

Original citation unknown, but variants include: "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it" and "If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it."
Added on 9-Apr-15 | Last updated 9-Apr-15
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I am reminded of the professor who, in his declining hours, was asked by his devoted pupils for his final counsel. He replied, “Verify your quotations.”

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
The Second World War, Vol. 4: The Hinge of Fate (1951)
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Added on 11-Oct-10 | Last updated 23-May-20
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I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
“…like captured fireflies” (1955)
Added on 2-Jul-09 | Last updated 20-Dec-19
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Practice is the best of all instructors.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 439
Added on 7-Nov-08 | Last updated 20-Feb-17
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He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Man and Superman, “Maxims for Revolutionists,” “Education” (1903)
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Added on 19-Sep-08 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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Zigong asked how to practice humanity. The Master said: “A craftsman who wishes to do good work must first sharpen his tools. In whatever country you settle, offer your services to the most virtuous ministers, and befriend those gentlemen who cultivate humanity.”

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 15.10 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse; tr. Leys (1997)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • 'Tsze-kung asked about the practice of virtue. The Master said, "The mechanic, who wishes to do his work well, must first sharpen his tools. When you are living in any state, take service with the most worthy among its great officers, and make friends of the most virtuous among its scholars."' [tr. Legge (1861), 15.9]
  • 'Zigong asked about the practice of humaneness. The Master said, "Artisans who wish to excel at their craft must sharpen their tools. When you live in any given state, you should serve the worthiest among the counselors and befriend the most human among the educated professionals."'[tr. Annping Chin (1983)]
  • Part of this is often quoted, without citation: "The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools." The quote can be found in English as early as the late 19th Century.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Nov-20
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