Pithy Sayings


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Socrates mistrusted books because they could neither ask nor answer questions and were apt to be swallowed whole. He said that readers of books read much and learned nothing, that they appeared full of knowledge, but for the most part were without it, and had the show of wisdom without its reality.
[From Phaedrus by Plato, 360 BC]

The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.
[Diogenes Laertius, 180 AD to 240 AD, quoted in Youth is Wasted on the Young by Stephen Blake and Andrew John, 2003]

Our future well-being – the well-being of all of us on the planet – depends on the education of our decendants.
[From Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel C Dennett, 1995]

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot, irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it.
[From The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, 1973]

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
[William Butler Yeats, 1865 to 1939]

"Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything."
[From The House at Pooh Corner by A A Milne, 1928]

The sea squirt, after an active life, settles on the sea floor and, like a professor given tenure, absorbs its brain.
[From Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones, 1999]

He had earned his Ph.D. in art history. His original thesis was cataloging cows in nineteenth century French paintings and he had expanded this original interest to a thorough knowledge of cows in Western art. ... Soon, he confided, leaning over to draw me into his words, he would begin his greatest project: cows in Indian art—a long smoldering passion.
[From Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, 1973]

In reality (and especially in the case of the United States) one could say that never have so many stayed in school so long to learn so little.
[From Social Sciences as Sorcery by Stanislav Andreski, 1972]

As in law school, the other students were disturbed. Hagbard began to understand: they are not here to learn, they are here to acquire a piece of paper that would make them eligible for certain jobs....
[From The Illuminatus! Trilogy: The Eye in the Pyramid by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, 1975]

Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse
[An African proverb]

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.
[Søren Kierkegaard, 1813 to 1855]

One of the most important things I have learned from teaching is that the presumption of stupidity leads to the production of stupidity.
[From Your Call Is Important to Us by Laura Penny, 2005]

By allowing us to filter out distractions ... deep reading becomes a form of deep thinking. The mind of the experienced book reader is a calm mind, not a buzzing one.
[From The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, 2010]

Even though the World Wide Web has made hypertext commonplace, indeed ubiquitous, research continues to show that people who read linear text comprehend more, remember more, and learn more than those who read text peppered with links.
[From The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, 2010]

I can't get my students to read whole books anymore.
[Katherine Hayles, 2006, Professor of Literature]

The man who has not the habit of reading is imprisoned in his immediate world, in respect to time and space. ... From this prison there is no escape.
[From The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang, 1937]

If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
[Albert Einstein, 1879 to 1955, quoted in The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, 2016]

I used to read, but it's easier to make up stuff.
[Wally, in a Dilbert cartoon by Scott Adams, 2005]

Among adults, the ones most in need of education are generally the least willing to learn.
[From Exegesis by Astro Teller, 1997]

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
[From "The Revolutionist's Handbook" in the play Man and Superman by George Bernard Shaw, 1903]

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