Useful Quotations

Praise up the humanities, my boy. That will make them think you are broad-minded.
— Winston Churchill 1874-1965

Explanation or Exploration?

Many people who talk about the discovery method of teaching are really talking about arranging a lesson or an experiment so that students discover what they are supposed to discover. That is not an exploration. The whole tradition of exploration is being lost for entire generations.
— Frank Oppenheimer 1912-1985
‘Why,’ said the Dodo, ‘the best way to explain it is to do it.’
— Lewis Carroll 1832-1898
The map is not the territory, and the name is not the thing named.
— Alfred Korzybski 1879-1950
It gets you nowhere if the other person’s tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation.
— Eeyore
I never let schooling interfere with my education.
— Mark Twain
Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.
— Terry Pratchett 1948-2015
How to tell students what to look for without telling them what to see is the dilemma of teaching.
— Lascelles Abercrombie 1881-1938
We should not be speaking to, but with. That is second nature to any good teacher.
— Noam Chomsky 1928-
If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.
— Winnie the Pooh

Attitudes before understanding

Give people facts and you feed their minds for an hour. Awaken curiosity and they feed their own minds for a lifetime.
— Ian Russell
Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
— William Butler Yeats 1865-1939
Learning is by nature, curiosity.
— Philo
The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.
— John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury 1834-1913
Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.
— Burrhus Frederic Skinner 1904-1990 (New Scientist , 21 May 1964, `Education in 1984')
Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
— Albert Einstein
The child’s desire of seeing and hearing, touching and handling, of smelling and tasting are all true and healthy hungers, and it can hardly be too strongly insisted that good teaching begins, neither with knowledge or discipline, but through delight.
— Patrick Geddes 1854-1932
Mit Kopf, Herz und Hand.
— Pestalozzi (1746-1827)

Honest simplicity

Guid gear gangs intae sma bouk.
— Scottish proverb
Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
— Albert Einstein 1879-1955
The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding.
— Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Concept development

Socrates: Shall we set down astronomy among the objects of study?
Glaucon: I think so, to know something about the seasons, the months and the years is of use for military purposes, as well as for agriculture and for navigation.
Socrates: It amuses me to see how afraid you are, lest the common herd of people should accuse you of recommending useless studies.
— Plato ca 429-347 BC
Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci.
He gains everyone’s approval who mixes the pleasant with the useful.
— Horace 65-8 BC
Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan 1911-1980
A plagiarist steals from one person. A true artist steals from everybody.
— Pablo Picasso 1881-1973


He that leaves nothing to chance will do few things ill, but he will do very few things.
— Lord Halifax 1633-1695
A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.
— Barnett Cocks 1907-1989
Search all the parks in all your cities; you’ll find no statues of committees.
— David Ogilvy (Ogilvy on Advertising) 1911-1999
Show me a man with both feet on the ground and I will show you a man who cannot put his pants on...
— Source unknown
You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back.
— Beverly Rubik


[Occam’s Razor] Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
It is vain to do with more what can be done with less.
— William of Occam 1300-1349
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
— Field Marshal Helmuth Von Moltke 1800-1891
You find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.
— Winnie-the-Pooh
There may be more than one way to skin a cat, but you just get one chance per cat....
— Source unknown

Science and faith

There is grandeur in this view of life…
— Charles Darwin 1809-1882 (Closing paragraph of The Origin of Species)
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
— Galileo Galilei 1564-1642
It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist.
— Charles Darwin 1809-1882 (Letter to John Fordyce, May 7 1879)
In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.
— Thomas Huxley 1825-1895
We must be on our guard against giving interpretations that are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.
— Saint Augustine of Hippo AD 354-430 (Genesis in the Literal Sense)