Quotes on Education

What is the professor’s function? To pass on to numskulls a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and largely untrue.

— H. L. Mencken

Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.

— Thomas Paine

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.

— John Locke

The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed a standard citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.

— H. L. Mencken

Too much of what is called “education” is little more than an expensive isolation from reality.

— Thomas Sowell

The problem is not that public schools do not work well, but rather that they do. The first goal and primary function of schools is not to educate good people, but good citizens. It is the function which we normally label state indoctrination.

— Wendy McElroy, Demystifying the State

A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another.

— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859)

The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.

— John Locke, 1693

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.

— Malcolm S. Forbes

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.

— Winston Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission (1930)

Nature has planted in our minds an insatiable longing to see the truth.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight.

— Charles-Louis De Secondat

Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.

— Thomas Sowell

A home without books is a body without soul.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Scholarship is to be created not by compulsion, but by awakening a pure interest in knowledge. The wise instructor accomplishes this by opening to his pupils precisely the attractions the study has for himself.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

It would be a mistake to assume that the present-day educational system is unchanging. On the contrary, it is undergoing rapid change. But much of this change is no more than an attempt to refine the existent machinery, making it ever more efficient in pursuit of obsolete goals.

— Alvin Toffler

I can’t imagine a genuinely intelligent boy getting much out of college, even out of a good college, save it be a cynical habit of mind.

— H. L. Mencken

There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence.

— Robert G. Ingersoll

My grandmother wanted me to have an education so she kept me out of school.

— Margaret Mead

An unexamined life is not worth living.

— Socrates

When I don’t understand, I have an unbearable itch to know why.

— Robert Heinlein, Have Space Suit—Will Travel

Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.

— Winston Churchill

The highest result of education is tolerance.

— Helen Keller

The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life – by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality… He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.

— Ayn Rand

What does education often do? It makes a straight cut ditch of a free meandering brook.

— Henry David Thoreau

It is time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy. It’s a bureaucratic system where everybody’s role is spelled out in advance, and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s not a surprise when a school system doesn’t improve. It more resembles a Communist economy than our own market economy.

— Albert Shanker

One can judge from experiment, or one can blindly accept authority. To the scientific mind, experimental proof is all important and theory is merely a convenience in description, to be junked when it no longer fits. To the academic mind, authority is everything and facts are junked when they do not fit theory laid down by authority.

— Robert Heinlein, Life-Line

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.

— Thomas Jefferson

The authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Students who are alien and hostile to the education process ought to be removed. You say, “What will we do with them?” I say that’s a secondary issue. The first priority is to stop thugs from making education impossible for everyone else.

— Walter Williams

Whenever people talk glibly of a need to achieve educational “excellence,” I think of what an improvement it would be if our public schools could just achieve mediocrity.

— Thomas Sowell

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.

— Benjamin Tucker

What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know; it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.

— Yogi Berra

The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.

— Maximilien Robespierre

Experience trumps brilliance.

— Thomas Sowell

Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.

— Baruch Spinoza

There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions.

— Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism

To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Whenever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.

— Benjamin Disraeli, 1874