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Educational jokes

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

There were two small boys, John and Jim, who were friends. Jim had a dog. One day they were taking the dog for a walk and Jim said proudly: "I've taught the dog to whistle". "What do you mean?", said John, "He's not whistling". "I know", said Jim, "But I said I'd taught him; I didn't say he'd learned".
Green-Armytage, P. (2002) "Colour Zones -- Connecting colour order and everyday language" 9th Congress of the International Colour Association, Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 4421 pp.976-979

"I know I've taught it because I've heard myself say it."
Quoted in K.A.Bruffee (1993) Collaborative learning

True jokes


  • Here is a 5 min video: "Doodling in Math Class", which is entertaining (rather than a joke). My reflections on what it says about teaching are here.

    Aphorisms

    Feynman was a truly great teacher. He prided himself on being able to devise ways to explain even the most profound ideas to beginning students. Once, I said to him, "Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics." Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, "I'll prepare a freshman lecture on it." But he came back a few days later to say:

    "I couldn't do it. I couldn't reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don't really understand it." [T11] - Richard Feynman, as quoted in: D.L.Goodstein & J.R.Goodstein (1996) Feynman's Lost Lecture: The Motion of Planets Around the Sun ch.2 p.45

    "... if thought is to be aroused and not words acquired ..." [T2] - Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education: An introduction to the philosophy of education ch.12 para.4 (New York, The Macmillan company)

    "methods which are permanently successful in formal education ... depend ... upon the fact that they go back to the type of the situation which causes reflection out of school in ordinary life. They give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results." [T11] - John Dewey (1916) Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education ch.12 "Thinking in education" p.106


    Good quotes, not educational

    "Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." - Clive James [Quoted by reputable people; but who knows where from, given his endless newspaper columns.]

    See also: more good quotes


    The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. [T10, T333] - Sydney J. Harris

    I pay the schoolmaster, but it is the school boys who educate my son. [T10, T333] - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education [T10] - Paul Karl Feyerabend

    The most important outcome of education is to help students become independent of formal education. [T10] - Paul E. Gray President of MIT 1980-90

    Formal education is but an incident in the lifetime of an individual. Most of us who have given the subject any study have come to realize that education is a continuous process ending only when ambition comes to a halt. [T10] - R.I.Rees. One (this one?) Robert Irwin Rees was a Brigadier General, United States Army; and President (1929-1930) of American Society for Engineering Education.

    Whom do I call educated? First, those who manage well the circumstances they encounter day by day. Next, those who are decent and honorable in their intercourse with all men, bearing easily and good naturedly what is offensive in others and being as agreeable and reasonable to their associates as is humanly possible to be... those who hold their pleasures always under control and are not ultimately overcome by their misfortunes... those who are not spoiled by their successes, who do not desert their true selves but hold their ground steadfastly as wise and sober-minded men. [T10] Socrates but unsourced and so dubious

    "The things taught in colleges and schools are not an education, but the means of education." [T10] Ralph Waldo Emerson

    "He is to be educated because he is a man, and not because he is to make shoes, nails, and pins." [learning for learning's sake, almost.] [T10] William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) U.S. Unitarian clergyman and writer.

    Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher. [T10/T6] Mary Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) American novelist, short-story writer and essayist.

    Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. [T10] Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963) American poet.

    It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

    An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person and entertain himself. [T10] Sidney Herbert Wood, (UK) principal assistant secretary of the Ministry of Education in a 1947 talk. Reported in Time magazine Monday, May 19, 1947.

    ".. if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education." [T10] [it's all critical thinking] John Alexander Smith, Professor of Moral Philosophy, Oxford University, 1914.

    "Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty." [T10] Twain

    "Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned." [T10] - Mark Twain's Notebook, 1898

    "All Human Knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use." [T10]
    A.E. Housman

    Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught. [T10] George Savile, Marquis of Halifax (1633-1695) English statesman and author
    Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. [T10]
    Albert Einstein
    Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten. [T10, T9] B.F. Skinner, US psychologist New Scientist May 21, 1964

    There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live. [T10]
    James Truslow Adams (historian, freelance author, Pulitzer prize winner) in "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education" June, 1929 Forum.

    "If you travel with us you will have to learn things you do not want to learn in ways you do not want to learn". [T10]
    [Doris Lessing, from a letter replying to a reader who had been seriously disturbed by reading one of her novels. Quoted in Alan Yentob's "Imagine" TV programme on Doris Lessing, broadcast Tues 27 May 2008, 10:35pm on BBC1]

    "He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." [T10]
    Alternatively:
    "Zeus, who guided mortals to be wise, has established his fixed law -- wisdom comes through suffering. Trouble, with its memories of pain, drips in our hearts as we try to sleep, so men against their will learn to practice moderation. Favours come to us from gods seated on their solemn thrones -- such grace is harsh and violent.
    This is about revenge vs. justice, rather than wisdom or learning in general. [I. 179] Agememnon (first play in the Oresteia 458 BC); Aeschylus (525 - 426 BC)

    "To escape boredom and avoid effort are incompatible" [T10]
    T.W.Adorno (1941) "On popular music" Studies in Philosophy and Social Science (New York: Institute of Social Research) 1941, IX, 17-48.

    "Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man." [T10, T333]
    Francis Bacon (1625) "Of studies" in Essays.   See here and here for copies of Bacon's 1625 essay; and here for Samuel Johnson's 1753 follow-up.

    "Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire" [T10] W.B.Yeats
    [However I feel this is missing a bit. It replaces acquisition of information, by acquisition of goals and values. No participation.]


    "Everyone who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching" [T1] Oscar Wilde in The Decay of Lying (1891), from Vivan's second speech

    "He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches." [T1]
    George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) in Man and Superman (1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists", maxim 36.
    (Misquoted as: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.")

    "I like to teach: it's easier than learning." [T1]
    A character says this in John Updike's (1968) Couples
    However still easier than teaching, is just to do the task for the learner. Which is what teachers are continually tempted into.

    "Those who can, do.
    Those who can't, teach.
    Those who can't teach, teach teachers.
    Those who can't teach teachers, go into politics." [T1]
    Muriel Barbery in The elegance of the hedgehog (2006)

    However
    "Those who can, do. Those who understand, teach." [T1]
    Or in full:
    "With Aristotle we declare that the ultimate test of understanding rests on one's ability to transform one's knowledge into teaching. Those who can, do. Those who understand, teach."
    Schulman, Lee S. (1986) "Those who understand: knowledge growth in teaching." Educational Researcher vol.15 no.2 pp.4-14


    "Learning results from what the student does and thinks and only from what the student does and thinks. The teacher can advance learning only by influencing what the student does to learn." [T2]
    This was published (as the epigraph at the start of ch.1) in/by: How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, Marie K. Norman (2010) (Jossey-Bass); who attribute it to oral personal communications by Herb Simon; who, they say, was paraphrasing Elliott Dunlap Smith. No source for the last is given, nor so far found by me.

    "I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think." [T2] Socrates but unsourced and dubious.

    Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. [T2] Oscar Wilde The critic as artist p.248

    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." [T2] Maria Montessori

    Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves. [T2] Abbe Dimnet Art of Thinking 1928

    There were two small boys, John and Jim, who were friends. Jim had a dog. One day they were taking the dog for a walk walk and and Jim said proudly: "I've taught the dog to whistle". "What do you mean?", said John, "He's not whistling". "I know", said Jim, "But I said I'd taught him; I didn't say he'd learned". [T2]
    Green-Armytage, P. (2002) "Colour Zones -- Connecting colour order and everyday language" 9th Congress of the International Colour Association, Proceedings of SPIE Vol. 4421 pp.976-979

    "The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous." [T2] - Edward Gibbon (1776) The decline and fall of the Roman empire vol.1 ch.4

    I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. [T2]Winston Churchill

    "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled."
    or actually: "We must encourage those lazy ones [audience members], however — once they have grasped the basic points — to interconnect everything else on their own, to use memory to guide original thinking, and to accept what someone else says as a starting point, a seed to be nourished and grown. For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth. Suppose someone were to go and ask his neighbors for fire and find a substantial blaze there, and just stay there continually warming himself: that is no different from someone who goes to someone else to get some of his rationality, and fails to realize that he ought to ignite his innate flame, his own intellect, but is happy to sit entranced by the lecture, and the words trigger only associative thinking and bring, as it were, only a flush to his cheeks and a glow to his limbs; but he has not dispelled or dispersed, in the warm light of philosophy, the internal dank gloom of his mind." [T2] On listening [This essay is entirely about students listening to lectures] Plutarch (AD46-120) Penguin translation by Robin Waterfield (1992) (Penguin books). The above quote is the whole of the second to last paragraph of the essay, p.50. Section 18; ref. is also 48C-48D.

    Confucius said: "I am a transmitter, rather than an original thinker. I trust and enjoy the teachings of the ancients. In my heart I compare myself to old Peng." [! T2]Confucius

    "Not having learned it is not as good as having learned it; having learned it is not as good as having seen it carried out; having seen it is not as good as understanding it; understanding is not as good as doing it. The development of scholarship is to the extreme of doing it, and that is its end and goal. He who carries it out, knows it thoroughly."

    and

    "Therefore, he who has heard of it but has not seen it, will certainly err, even though he be widely learned. He who has seen it but does not understand it, will certainly be led astray, even though he has memorized it. He who understands but does not carry it out will certainly stumble, even though he regard it as important. If a man has not learned it nor seen it carried out, although his actions should be correct, he would not be benevolent (Jen); every hundred of his actions would only be a hundred failures." [T2] Xun-zi (312-230 B.C.). My source

    You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives. [T22?] [but how non-applicable to imagine a) that you can create curiosity about anything anytime; b) that a student is well-equipped if they can only learn when curious, not when it is useful to them or required by others] Clay P. Bedford [? a top executive of Kaiser Industries in California, died 1991]

    "Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind." Plato, from The Republic [T22]

    Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon. [T22] E.M.Forster from a radio talk.

    Wendy: "Max, I am just too stupid to learn." Max: "No Wendy, I am too stupid to teach." [T2,22,222] Wendy, and Max Clowes.


    Education is one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought [T3, (T6)] Bertrand A. Russell

    Education makes us more stupid than the brutes. A thousand voices call to us on every hand, but our ears are stopped with wisdom. [T3] - Jean Giraudoux

    Learning: the kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious. [T3] Ambrose Bierce The Devil's Dictionary

    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." [T3] - This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but until the attribution can be verified, the quote should not be regarded as authentic.
    "Don't let school interfere with your education" [T3]
    "Never let formal education get in the way of your learning." [T3] [may be the accurate one.]

    My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. [T3] Margaret Mead

    "A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again." [T3]
    Alexander Pope (1688-1744) in An Essay on Criticism (1709)

    "... but a little learning is by no means a dangerous thing in good company; on the contrary, it will do very well." [T3]
    Jane Austen in Persuasion (1818) ch.16. (However this excerpt is put into the mouth of a bad man.)

    "'Only I was afraid you would be getting so learned', said Celia, regarding Mr. Casaubon's learning as a kind of damp which might in due time saturate a neighbouring body." [T3]
    George Eliot in ch.28 of Middlemarch (1871)

    For as the Greek verse says: 'To what use serves learning, if understanding be away.' [T3] Apud Stobaeus, tit. iii., p. 37 (1609); quoted in Montaigne On pedantry On pedantry

    I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. [T3]
    Wilde,Oscar The importance of being earnest

    "He who learns without thinking will be bewildered; he who thinks without learning will be in danger." [T3] - Confucius

    All intellectual improvement arises from leisure. [T3, T8] Samuel Johnson in Boswell (1799): Life of Johnson [N.B. Johnson is using this as an argument for social inequality]

    "Knowledge is good, method is good, but one thing beyond all others is necessary; and that is to have a head, not a pumpkin, on your shoulders, and brains, not pudding, in your head." [T33]
    A.E. Housman

    No one wants a good education. Everyone wants a good degree. [T33] - Lee Rudolph

    The Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others." [T33] - Confucius [This shows that an imaginary nostalgia for deep over shallow learning, or at least for intrinsic over extrinsic motivation, for learning was present even in ancient times.]

    Education is a state-controlled manufactury of echoes. [T33] Norman Douglas, (probably the English author, died 1952)

    He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice. [T33/T6] Einstein


    Do we really recommend learning from your errors?
    Here's a quote from an experimental astrophysicist as his team slaves away getting their balloon-borne telescope ready for launch:
    "Step by tedious step, we stumble away from abject failure. And that's on a good day." [T4]
    Barth Netterfield, in a TV documentary on one of his research projects

    "Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." [T4] Otto von Bismarck

    If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate. [T4] Thomas Watson, Sr., founder of IBM

    "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." [T4] Hannah Arendt

    Mistakes are the portals of discovery. [T4] James Joyce Ulysses

    Learning is like raising a monument; if I stop with this basket of earth, it is my own fault. It is like throwing earth on the ground; one basket at a time, yet I advance. [T4] - Confucius

    I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones. [T4] John Peel, disc jockey

    The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing. [T4] Andre Maurois (1885-1967) French biographer and writer

    Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils [T4] (Louis) Hector Berlioz .


    "Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master." [T5]
    Leonardo da Vinci

    If the student isn't better than the teacher, then the teacher is a failure. [T5]
    Zen aphorism, quoted by Allen Ginsberg

    I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive. [T5] - John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson.

    "The plural of anecdote is not data" [T7] Lee Shulman.

    "We are heartened by the data (which is the plural form of 'anecdote' in this case) ..." [T7] ???.

    "It was imagined that experiments in education were not necessary; and that, whether any thing in it was good or bad, could be judged of by the reason. But this was a great mistake; experience shows very often that results are produced precisely the opposite to those which had been expected. We also see from experiment that one generation cannot work out a complete plan of education." [T7] Immanuel Kant, in his university lectures On Pedagogy


    Only dead fish swim with the stream. [T6] Malcolm Muggeridge

    No one can possibly achieve any real and lasting success or 'get rich' in business by being a conformist. [T6] [but untrue] John Paul Getty

    The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates. [T6] Oscar Wilde

    "The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done." [T6] Jean Piaget

    Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. [T6] Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) English author, illustrator, mycologist and conservationist.


    Education costs money, but then so does ignorance. [T8] - Sir Claus Moser (b. 1922), German-born British academic and statistician, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford. Daily Telegraph (London, 21 Aug. 1990).

    If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. [T8] Benjamin Franklin
    [N.B. this doesn't say that formal education is the best investment.]

    All intellectual improvement arises from leisure. [T3, T8] Samuel Johnson in Boswell (1799): Life of Johnson [N.B. Johnson is using this as an argument for social inequality]

    There can be no education without leisure, and without leisure education is worthless. [T8] Sarah Josepha Hale (American writer, author of "Mary had a little lamb", died 1879)

    Otium sine litteris mors. (Leisure without learning [is] death) [T8] Seneca (AD 65) Moral Epistle 82

    One of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get. [T8] William Lowe Bryan, 10th president of Indiana University (1902 to 1937).

    Education seems to be in America the only commodity of which the customer tries to get as little he can for his money. [T8] Max Leon Forman (1909-1990) Jewish-American writer

    We learn simply by the exposure of living. Much that passes for education is not education at all but ritual. The fact is that we are being educated when we know it least. [T9] - David P. Gardner [who is he?]

    You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know. [T9] Oscar Wilde

    Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten. [T10, T9] B.F. Skinner, US psychologist New Scientist May 21, 1964 [i.e. you believe you have forgotten, yet you show permanent changes.]

    The fellow who thinks he knows it all is especially annoying to those of us who do. [T9] Harold Coffin, a former humor columnist for The Associated Press, died 1981


    Docendo discimus: By teaching, we learn. [T333] Seneca (AD 65) Moral Epistles 1, 7, 8

    What is a teacher? I'll tell you: it isn't someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows. [T333] - Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello

    More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given. [T333] Bertrand Russell

    "Teaching yourself is discovering what is teachable." [T333]
    From: "For me, the first challenge for computing science is to discover how to maintain order in a finite, but very large, discrete universe that is intricately intertwined. And a second, but not less important challenge is how to mould what you have achieved in solving the first problem, into a teachable discipline: it does not suffice to hone your own intellect (that will join you in your grave), you must teach others how to hone theirs. The more you concentrate on these two challenges, the clearer you will see that they are only two sides of the same coin: teaching yourself is discovering what is teachable."
    E.W.Dijkstra.
    [N.B. This distinguishes implicit and explicit. If it's implicit, you may have learned it, but can't teach it -- at least in Dijkstra's view of teaching here.]

    The greatest education in the world is watching the masters at work. [T333] - Michael Jackson (the pop star) in Moonwalk, 2009

    First figure out why you want the students to learn the subject and what you want them to know, and the method will result more or less by common sense. [T333] - Richard Feynman

    "solution to the problem of education":
    I think, however, that there isn't any solution to this problem of education other than to realize that the best teaching can be done only when there is a direct individual relationship between a student and a good teacher -- a situation in which the student discusses the ideas, thinks about the things, and talks about the things. It's impossible to learn very much by simply sitting in a lecture, or even by simply doing problems that are assigned. [T333] - Richard Feynman

    I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me. [T333] - St. Augustine

    I pay the schoolmaster, but it is the school boys who educate my son. [T10, T333] - Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It appears, therefore, that some development of the capacity to be alone is necessary if the brain is to function at its best, and if the individual is to fulfil his highest potential. Human beings easily become alienated from their own deepest needs and feelings. Learning, thinking, innovation and maintaining contact with one's own inner world are all facilitated by solitude. - Anthony Storr

    "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." [T333] - Confucius

    I used to sit alone thinking about this and that. Sometimes I even forgot my meals or bedtime. Still I gained very little. Later I shifted to reading omnivorously, but I did not benefit a great deal either. At long last I came to see that reading in a mechanical way without using my brains was no use. On the other hand, if thinking is divorced from the reality and no due attention is paid to reading, one will continue to feel puzzled by many things. One should constantly review what he has learned and combine reading with thinking. In thus making use of the theories one has learned to guide his thought and help analyze the problems at hand, progress will be achieved. [T333] - Confucius

    It matters not what you Learn; but when you once learn a thing, you must never give it up until you have mastered it. It matters not what you inquire into; but when you inquire into a thing, you must never give it up until you have thoroughly understood it. It matters not what you try to think out, but when you once try to think out a thing, you must never give it up until you have got what you want. It matters not what you try to sift; but when you once try to sift out a thing, you must never give it up until you have sifted it out clearly and distinctly. It matters not what you try to carry out; but when you once try to carry out a thing, you must never give it up until you have done it thoroughly and well. [T333] - Confucius

    "A student should not be taught unless he is anxious to understand what he does not understand, and should not be enlightened unless he is eager to express what he cannot express." [T333] - Confucius. [the recipe for getting learners to recognise a problem.]

    "Letting the students admire the excellence of other students ensures the success of education." [T333] - Confucius [My L3 tutorial reciprocal critiquing exercise.]

    "Is it not a pleasure to learn and practise from time to time what is learned?" [T333] - Confucius

    Correction does much, but encouragement does more. [T333] - Goethe

    Those who trust us educate us. [T333] - George Eliot

    Nine tenths of education is encouragement. [T333] - Anatole France
    [Cf. Mitra.]

    Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher. [T222] - Confucius

    He can be a teacher who finds what is new in reviewing what is old. [T222] - Confucius


    Confucius

    Confucius is the Latin form of K'ung-Fu-tze (Master Kong). 550 BC - 478 BC or 551-479 BC in /near Shantung. Contemporary of Buddha; 100 years before Plato.

    There are five collections of writings by Confucius and his disciples: The analects of Confucius,   The great learning,   The doctrine of mean,   Mencius;   The book of change,   The book of odes,   The book of rites,   The book of history,   The spring and autumn annals.

  • Analects.
  • A.C.Muller's (1990, 2011) translation
  • Another page
  • Other sayings

    [analect 7:1] Confucius said: "I am a transmitter, rather than an original thinker. I trust and enjoy the teachings of the ancients. In my heart I compare myself to old Peng." [T2]

    [analect 7:2] Confucius said: "Keeping silent and thinking; studying without satiety, teaching others without weariness: these things come natural to me."

    "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."

    "A student should not be taught unless he is anxious to understand what he does not understand, and should not be enlightened unless he is eager to express what he cannot express." [the recipe for getting Ls to recognise a problem.]

    Student Teams "Letting the students admire the excellence of other students ensures the success of education." [My L3 tutorial reciprocal critiquing exercise.]

    Tutorials "Is it not a pleasure to learn and practise from time to time what is learned?"

    Confucius said: "Isn't it a pleasure to study and practise what you have learned?

    The Master said, "In ancient times, men learned with a view to their own improvement. Nowadays, men learn with a view to the approbation of others." [This shows that an imaginary nostalgia for deep over shallow, or at least for intrinsic over extrinsic motivation for learning was present even in ancient times.]

    The Master said, "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."

    "I used to sit alone thinking about this and that. Sometimes I even forgot my meals or bedtime. Still I gained very little. Later I shifted to reading omnivorously, but I did not benefit a great deal either. At long last I came to see that reading in a mechanical way without using my brains was no use. On the other hand, if thinking is divorced from the reality and no due attention is paid to reading, one will continue to feel puzzled by many things. One should constantly review what he has learned and combine reading with thinking. In thus making use of the theories one has learned to guide his thought and help analyze the problems at hand, progress will be achieved. " [T333]

    Confucius said: "Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you are fit to be a teacher."
    [T333] [Comment] Confucian "learning" is always fully connected to self-transformation.

    Every truth has four corners: as a teacher I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three. [is this genuine?]

    "In education there are no class distinctions" [widening participation]

    "Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application? ...

    Tsze-hsia said, "There are learning extensively, and having a firm and sincere aim; inquiring with earnestness, and reflecting with self-application: -- virtue is in such a course."

    The capacity for knowledge of the inferior man is small and easily filled up; the intelligence of the superior man is deep and not easily satisfied.

    It matters not what you Learn; but when you once learn a thing, you must never give it up until you have mastered it. It matters not what you inquire into; but when you inquire into a thing, you must never give it up until you have thoroughly understood it. It matters not what you try to think out, but when you once try to think out a thing, you must never give it up until you have got what you want. It matters not what you try to sift; but when you once try to sift out a thing, you must never give it up until you have sifted it out clearly and distinctly. It matters not what you try to carry out; but when you once try to carry out a thing, you must never give it up until you have done it thoroughly and well.

    THE TRUE SCHOLAR When the opportunity of gain is presented to him, he thinks on virtue. He is reverent in sacrifice; in mourning, absorbed in the sorrow he should feel. He who cherishes love of comfort is not fit to be a scholar.

    The main object of study is to unfold the aim; with one who loves words, but does not improve, I can do nothing.

    The scholar's burden is perfection; is it not heavy? It ends but with life; is it not enduring?

    Learning is like raising a monument; if I stop with this basket of earth, it is my own fault. It is like throwing earth on the ground; one basket at a time, yet I advance.

    The true scholar is not a mere utensil. Leaving Virtue without proper culture; failing thoroughly to discuss what is Learned; being unable to move toward the righteousness of which knowledge is gained; and being unable to change what is not good, -- these are the things that (in my scholars) give me anxiety.

    If a man keeps cherishing his old knowledge, so as ever to acquire new, he may be a teacher of others. I marked Yen-Yuen's constant advance; I never saw him pause. Often the blade springs, but the plant does not go on to flower; often the plant flowers, but produces no fruit.

    Having completed his studies, the scholar should devote himself to official functions. He should say : "I am not concerned that I have no place; I am concerned how I shall fit myself for one. I am not concerned at not being known; I seek to be worthy to be known."

    "Knowing without doing is not knowing."

    "He who learns without thinking will be bewildered; he who thinks without learning will be in danger."

    "He can be a teacher who finds what is new in reviewing what is old."


    Oscar Wilde

    Wilde,Oscar The importance of being earnest Act 1. Jack: "I know nothing, Lady Bracknell." LB: "I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of anything that tampers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square." [T3]

    Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching. [T1]

    Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. [T2]

    I like talking to a brick wall, it's the only thing in the world that never contradicts me. []

    The mind of the thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value. []

    I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about. [exams!]

    You know more than you think you know, just as you know less than you want to know. [T9]

    Life is too short to learn German []

    I may have said the same thing before... But my explanation, I am sure, will always be different.

    Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he knows is bad for him. - Lord Fermor, in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) by Oscar Wilde.


    George Bernard Shaw

    George Bernard Shaw in Man and Superman(1903) "Maxims for Revolutionists", in the section "Education".

    1. When a man teaches something he does not know to somebody else who has no aptitude for it, and gives him a certificate of proficiency, the latter has completed the education of a gentleman.

    2. A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.

    3. The best brought-up children are those who have seen their parents as they are. Hypocrisy is not the parent's first duty.

    4. The vilest abortionist is he who attempts to mould a child's character.

    5. At the University every great treatise is postponed until its author attains impartial judgment and perfect knowledge. If a horse could wait as long for its shoes and would pay for them in advance, our blacksmiths would all be college dons.

    6. He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

    7. A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. Beware of his false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance.

    8. Activity is the only road to knowledge.

    9. Every fool believes what his teachers tell him, and calls his credulity science or morality as confidently as his father called it divine revelation.

    10. No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another.

    11. No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot.

    12. Do not give your children moral and religious instruction unless you are quite sure they will not take it too seriously. Better be the mother of Henri Quatre and Nell Gwynne than of Robespierre and Queen Mary Tudor.


    Benjamin Franklin [Refs to be checked.]

    A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
    Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.
    I guess I don't so much mind being old, as I mind being fat and old.
    If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him.


    A false quotation

    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn. [T11]

    This has been variously attributed to: Aristotle; Confucius; Benjamin Franklin; Native american proverb; Chinese proverb; Voltaire; Association For Experiential Education. (Google the phrase and you should find all of these after a while.)
    It is mostly on the web, but it has been published in the "scientific" / educational literature:
    Ochiai, El-Ichiro (1993) "Ideas of equality and ratio: Mathematical basics for chemistry and the fallacy of unitary conversion" Journal of Chemical Education vol.70, no.1 p.44-46

    The earliest mention of it seems to be 1986 (not 500 BC). Illumination comes from this 2012 posting by Dakin Burdick who is confident (as am I) that it is not Confucius, nor Benjamin Franklin, but that it could be a loose rewriting of Xun-zi a.k.a. Hsüntze (313 BC - 238 BC).

    "Not having learned it is not as good as having learned it; having learned it is not as good as having seen it carried out; having seen it is not as good as understanding it; understanding is not as good as doing it. The development of scholarship is to the extreme of doing it, and that is its end and goal. He who carries it out, knows it thoroughly." Homer Dubs (1927, 1966) The Works of Hsüntze page 113. The section was from Book 8 of Xun-zi.

    A better translation could be: "Ignorance is worse than hearing it, which is worse than seeing it, which is worse than understanding it, which is worse than doing it." Cf. "See one, do one, teach one".

    We might say that this makes Xun-zi sound like someone who believes in training not education. Or we might note that this sequence is quite a lot like Bloom's taxonomy (see here for more).

    For comparison, the nearest Confucius came is, according to the library (after translation)
    "By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest." I.e. commenting on: thinking, seeing, trial and error; but not on being lectured. ("Confucius" is the Latin form of K'ung-Fu-tze. Lived 550 BC - 478 BC or 551-479 BC in /near Shantung: a contemporary of Buddha, 100 years before Plato, 200 years before Xun-zi.)

    Dale's triangle, the fallacious pyramid: a similar falsity

    Here are some of many versions of the triangle:
    Dale pyramid       Dale pyramid       Dale pyramid       Dale pyramid       Dale pyramid       Google for more


    Here, if you are allowed access, is a critique of what is true and false about it.

    Ways to analyse the spread of a false quotation

    1. Research who, if anyone, really said what; and give citations.

    2. Regard the spread of false attribution as a phenomenon in itself, from which a measure of using without checking can be created, as in this paper. A measure of the prevalence of bad scholarship. Following this line of reasoning, Simkin & Roychowdhury have estimated that "only about 20% of citers read the original".
      Simkin,M.V. & Roychowdhury,V.P. (2003) "Read Before You Cite!" Complex Systems vol.14 pp.269-274 http://www.complex-systems.com/pdf/14-3-5.pdf
      See also Simkin,M.V. & Roychowdhury,V.P. (2012) "Theory of citing" in M.T. Thai and P.M. Pardalos (eds.), Handbook of Optimization in Complex Networks: Theory and Applications, Springer Optimization and Its Applications vol.57 (2012) pp.463-505 doi:10.1007/978-1-4614-0754-6_16 Or see PDF copy (from arXiv:1109.2272)
    3. Education theory. Regard it as evidence of how the (false) quote, the aphorism, appeals to many people and summarises a view of an aspect of learning which they believe. Then the question is are they right? what is the right view?

      A much better substantiated view (founded on many published experimental studies) is Chi's passive-active-constructive-interactive framework: The idea is that the 4 are in ascending order of mathemagenic power:

      • (Inactive e.g. not paying attention)
      • Passive e.g. reading
      • Active e.g. answering a closed question
      • Constructive e.g. generating reasons or "self-explanations"
      • Interactive (with peers).

      Chi,M.T.H. (2009) "Active-constructive-interactive: A conceptual framework for differentiating learning activities" Topics in Cognitive Science vol.1 no.1 pp.73-105

      Fonseca,B.A. & Chi,M.T.H. (2011) "Instruction based on self-explanation" ch.15 pp.296-321 in R.E.Mayer & P.A.Alexander (eds.) Handbook of research on learning and instruction (New York: Routledge).

    See also http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/best/activism.html


    Some links

  • Preface on teaching to Feynman's Lectures
  • http://www.citatum.org/category/Education
  • http://ntlf.com/feature-detail/quotations-on-teaching-and-learning-september-2012.aspx
  • http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/904.html Has citations
  • http://www.motivationalquotes.com/pages/education-quotes.html
  • http://www.1-funny-quotes.com/funny-learning-quotes.html
  • http://www.mylinkstolearning.com/teachqts.htm
  • http://www.1-famous-quotes.com/quote/555048
  • Mark Twain quotes on education
  • http://www.fun4biz.com/coach/coach/learning_quotes_humorous.html
  • http://quotationsbook.com/quote/23103/
  • Quotations book
  • Feynman on teaching
  • http://www.etni.org.il/quotes/education.htm
  • http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/eduquote.htm
  • http://isgwww.cs.uni-magdeburg.de/~graham/quotes/educationis.html
  • http://www.nea.org/grants/35593.htm
  • http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/899
  • http://www.home-education.org.uk/resources-quotes.htm
  • http://www.famouslifemottos.org/Education.html
  • http://www.lightafire.com/quotations/authors/clay-p-bedford/
  • http://faculty.darden.virginia.edu/brunerb/case-student.htm
  • http://www.wisdomword.info/benjamin-franklin/
  • http://edgalaxy.com/education-quotes/ Many good ones; many big errors.

  • Kinds of student

    Tags / classifications

  • Project to support crowd-sourcing of citation verification

  • T10 The nature / aims of education ...
  • T1 If you can't do then teach .... (N.B. do, learn, teach, teach-Ts, politician: that direction implies (mockingly) decreasing ability, but if you believe in constructivism then the difficulty runs right to left.)
  • T2 Constructivism // teaching isn't possible // good teaching
  • T22 Bad teaching
  • T222 Good teaching
  • T3 (education) What is bad about education (learning vs. educ.)
  • T33 Bad learning
  • T333 Good learning
  • T4 Trial and error / Learning by exploration
  • T5 Progress at teaching, at learning and teaching
  • T7 The need for educational research (not just doing whatever occurs to you)
  • T6 Imagination, creativity (cf. Ken Robinson) (Why? because naturally we only like assimilation. Education gets you practised and confident with accommodation. Accomodation means diminished doing (performance), but better learning.)
  • T8 Money: is education worth paying for?
  • T9 Metamemory / meta-knowledge: self awareness about whether you remember/know something.
  • T11 Unclassified.

    Web site logical path: [www.psy.gla.ac.uk] [~steve] [best] [this page]
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