Passport to the Future: 11 Education Quotes to Inspire Endless Learning

Education

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You think you’re having a rough time processing this year’s events? Think about all the teachers out there who’ve been called back into duty this fall, tasked with keeping our nation’s youth on track amid all this craziness.

How does one even begin to broach subjects like history or social studies in a world that’s currently at war over which version of history will prevail? Now’s the time to reach out to the educators you know — including the ones who taught you, once upon a time — and find out what kind of support they might need in the months to come. (If nothing else, send wine!)

In the meantime, here are a few education quotes to remind us what constitutes proper learning, in hopes that even those civilians among us will recognize opportunities to keep growing and evolving, and help others do the same.

Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1961
“The word “education” comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.”

Audre Lorde, “An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich,” 1981
“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”

C.S. Lewis, “Men Without Chests,” 1943
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

Virginia Woolf, Monday or Tuesday, 1921
“Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself.”

Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider, 2005
“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”

Malcolm X, speaking to Organization of Afro-American Unity, 1964
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook, 1962
“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: ‘You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2010 interview
“We spend the first year of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk and the rest of its life to shut up and sit down. There’s something wrong there.”

James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers,” 1963
“One of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person.”

Agatha Christie, An Autobiography, 1977
“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.”

Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

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