Are all these people crazy, or should we be doing some serious thinking about what they have to say?
Note: As far as I know, all quotes are attributed to the correct people, but even if mistakes exist in attribution, we know that someone said or wrote it and it’s worth considering.
“I feel ashamed that so many of us cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, assuming real obligations, striving to be independent and self-reliant and free.” – John Taylor Gatto
One of the most important decisions you’ll ever make is who will educate your children.
Education is not just learning to read but learning what to think about what you read and how to choose worthwhile reading material. It’s about learning to discern truth and falsehood in what you read.
Education is not just learning the facts of science but learning why they matter and how to apply them ethically.
Education is not just learning dates and events from history but learning to apply the lessons of lives well lived and lives poorly lived — and how to tell the difference.
Who will teach your children the meaning behind the facts?
I don’t want my children fed or clothed by the state, but if I had to choose, I would prefer that to their being educated by the state. – Max Victor Belz
Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men’s natural abilities as to restrain them. – Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education. – Sir Walter Scott
Men had better be without education than be educated by their rulers. – Thomas Hodgskin, 1823
What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. — George Bernard Shaw
A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another; and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the dominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, an aristocracy, or a majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by a natural tendency to one over the body. – John Stuart Mill, “On Liberty”
Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery. – Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister (1874)
The children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming, where everyone would be interdependent.
– John Dewey, American educator
The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
– Rudyard Kipling
The only time my education was interrupted was when I was in school. – George Bernard Shaw
My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself. – George Bernard Shaw
Freedom requires responsibility. That is why most men dread it. – George Bernard Shaw
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. – Mark Twain
In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present eduction conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds, and, unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people, or any of their children, into philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen – of whom we have an ample supply. The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way. – John D. Rockefeller General Education Board (1906)
That erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. 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 and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues and other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else. – H.L. Mencken
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-face for the urge to rule it. – H.L. Mencken
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. – Agatha Christie (Author)
Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality. – Beatrix Potter (Author of the Peter Rabbit books)
Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction. – Anne Sullivan, Tutor to Helen Keller
I am beginning to suspect all elaborate systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself , instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he builds a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences. – Anne Sullivan, Tutor to Helen Keller
Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college. – Lillian Smith
A child educated only at school is an uneducated child. – George Santayana
Freedom of thought in the middle ages was combated by the Inquisition, but the modern method is far more effective. Place the lives of children in their formative years, despite the convictions of their parents, under the intimate control of experts appointed by the state, force them then to attend schools where the higher aspirations of humanity are crushed out, and where the mind is filled with the materialism of the day, and it is difficult to see how even the remnants of liberty can subsist. Such a tyranny, supported as it is by a perverse technique used as the instrument in destroying human souls, is certainly far more dangerous than the crude tyrannies of the past, which despite their weapons of fire and sword permitted thought at least to be free. The truth is that the materialistic paternalism of the present day, if allowed to go on unchecked, will rapidly make of America one huge “Main Street,” where spiritual adventure will be discouraged and democracy will be regarded as consisting in the reduction of all mankind to the proportions of the narrowest and least gifted of the citizens. God grant that there may come a reaction, and that the great principles of Anglo-Saxon liberty may be rediscovered before it is too late! – J. Gresham Machen (1923)
Education rears disciples, imitators, and routinists, not pioneers of new ideas and creative geniuses. The schools are not nurseries of progress and improvement, but conservatories of tradition and unvarying modes of thought. – Ludwig von Mises
What’s the difference between a bright, inquisitive five-year-old, and a dull, stupid nineteen-year-old? Fourteen years of the British educational system. – Bertrand Russell
A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers…. The greatest triumphs of propaganda have been accomplished, not by doing something, but by refraining from doing. Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. – Aldous Huxley, forward to “Brave New World,” 1946 edition
Hitherto the plans of the educationalists have achieved very little of what they attempted, and indeed we may well thank the beneficent obstinacy of real mothers, real nurses, and (above all) real children for preserving the human race in such sanity as it still posses.
The schools ain’t what they used to be, and never was. – Will Rogers
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. – C.S. Lewis
My grandmother wanted me to have an education, so she kept me out of school. – Margaret Mead
Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual. – Albert Einstein
It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. – Albert Einstein
Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. – Vladimir Lenin
Teachers are directed to instruct their pupils… and to awaken in them a sense of their responsibility toward the community of the nation. – Bernhard Rust, Nazi Minister of Education, from “Racial Instruction and the National Community,” 1935
Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed. – Joseph Stalin
Schools have not necessarily much to do with education… they are mainly institutions of control, where basic habits must be inculcated in the young. Education is quite different and has little place in school. – Winston Churchill
There are only two places in the world where time takes precedence over the job to be done. School and prison. – William Glasser
The millions of dollars which we devote every year to high-school education are, for the most part, money spent for the retarding of intelligence, the discouragement of efficiency, the stunting of character. – Bernard Iddings Bell (1949)
What borders on the criminal is the poor teaching and neglect of those subjects that deal with the history of ideas and ideals, a knowledge of which is essential to all youth who would assume their place in society as thinking, feeling human beings. – Mortimer Smith (1949)
Experts talk constantly of training for leadership, but their whole system is one of conditioning for servitude. This is disastrous to the well-being of democracy which depends for safety on the free development of the highest qualities of gifted individuals….For all his talk of democracy, the educator is generally authoritarian and dogmatic. Teacher-training institutions in general exist to indoctrinate; their task is not to discover truth, but to convey ‘the truth.’ – Hilda Neatby
Dewey, more than any other single person, must be held responsible for the intellectual, cultural and moral poverty of much modern teaching. – Hilda Neatby
The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as “free education” is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education – just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office – and cannot possibly be separated from political control. – Frank Chodorov, “Why Free Schools Are Not Free”
Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you or pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion? – Isabel Paterson
A tax supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state. – Isabel Paterson
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends. – Isabel Paterson
The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together. – Eric Hoffer
A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will. – Eric Hoffer
To be nobody but yourself – in a world which is doing it’s best, night and day, to make you like everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting. – e.e. cummings
Is it not ironical that in a planned society of controlled workers given compulsory assignments, where religious expression is suppressed, the press controlled, and all media of communication censored, where a puppet government is encouraged but denied any real authority, where great attention is given to efficiency and character reports, and attendance at cultural assemblies is mandatory, where it is avowed that all will be administered to each according to his needs and performance required from each according to his abilities, and where those who flee are tracked down, returned, and punished for trying to escape – in short in the milieu of the typical large American secondary school – we attempt to teach ‘the democratic system’? – Royce Van Norman, “School Administration: Thoughts on Organization and Purpose,” Phi Delta Kappan 47(1966):315-16
The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind. – Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr
Public educators, like Soviet farmers, lack any incentive to produce results, innovate, to be efficient, to make the kinds of of difficult changes that private firms operating in a competitive market must make to survive. – Carolyn Lochhead
“Parent choice’ proceeds from the belief that the purpose of education is to provide individual students with an education. In fact, educating the individual is but a means to the true end of education, which is to create a viable social order to which individuals contribute and by which they are sustained. “Family choice’ is, therefore, basically selfish and anti-social in that it focuses on the “wants’ of a single family rather than the “needs’ of society. – Association of California School Administrators
Historically, much of the motivation for public schooling has been to stifle variety and institute social control. – Jack Hugh
If the only motive was to help people who could not afford education, advocates of government involvement would have simply proposed tuition subsidies. – Milton Friedman – Economist and 1976 Nobel Laureate
The first goal and primary function of the U.S. public school is not to educate good people, but good citizens. It is the function which we call – in enemy nations – “state indoctrination.” – Jonathan Kozol
Together we have come to realize that for most men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school. – Ivan Illich, “Deschooling Society”
School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is. – Ivan Illich
Where once a tyrant had to wish that his subjects had but one common neck that he might strangle them all at once, all he has to do now is to ‘educate the people’ so that they will have but one common mind to delude. – Richard Mitchell, “The Underground Grammarian”
Far from failing in its intended task, our educational system is in fact succeeding magnificently, because its aim is to keep the American people thoughtless enough to go on supporting the system. – Richard Mitchell, “The Underground Grammarian”
Those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable. – Pope John Paul II
It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy. – Albert Shanker
In all countries, in all centuries, the primary reason for government to set up schools is to undermine the politically weak by convincing their children that the leaders are good and their policies are wise. The core is religious intolerance. The sides simply change between the Atheists, Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, etc., depending whether you are talking about the Soviet Union, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, America, etc. A common second reason is to prepare the boys to go to war and the girls to cheer them on. – Marshall Fritz, Founder of The Alliance for the Separation of School & State
Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn maths and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities. – Seymour Papert
There has never in the history of the civilized world been a cohort of kids that is so little affected by adult guidance and so attuned to a peer world. We have removed grown-up wisdom and allowed them to drift into a self-constructed, highly relativistic world of friendship and peers. – William Damon, Stanford University Center on Adolescence
Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents…. – John Taylor Gatto, New York State Teacher of the Year, “The Underground History of American Education”
The shocking possibility that dumb people don’t exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn’t real. – John Taylor Gatto, “The Underground History of American Education”
School is the first impression children get of organized society. Like most first impressions it is the lasting one. Life is dull and stupid, only Coke provides relief. And other products, too, of course. – John Taylor Gatto, “The Underground History of American Education”
Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another. – John Taylor Gatto, “The Underground History of American Education”
Who besides a degraded rabble would voluntarily present itself to be graded and classified like meat? No wonder school is compulsory. – John Taylor Gatto, “The Underground History of American Education”
Our tightly controlled educational system mocks the promise of democracy. With a closed educational system we simply cannot have an open political system. The current situation allows the government and big business to manufacture and maintain our culture for us, and in turn, control remains in the hands of the experts and institutions. The ability to change this situation is in the hands of the individuals and families who understand why change is necessary. – Helen Hegener, Alternatives in Education
A family member asked my wife, “Aren’t you concerned about his (our son’s) socialization with other kids?” My wife gave this response: “Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate.” – Manfred B. Zysk
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. – P.J. O’Rourke
Education is unique among consumer products – when it fails to work as advertised, it’s the customer that gets labelled as defective. – Kevin Killion
Government schools can’t teach reading, writing, and arithmetic – why should we trust them to teach morality, respect, and character? If public education does for ethics what it’s done for learning, we’ll end up with a generation of immoral, disrespectful, and characterless students. – Steve Dasbach
If we keep on the way we’re going, we’re going to wind up where we’re headed. – Anonymous
The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false. – Paul Johnson
It seems to me that much of what we call education is really socialization. Consider what we do to our kids. Is it really a good idea to send your 6-year-old into a room full of 6-year-olds, and then, the next year, to put your 7-year-old in with 7-year-olds, and so on? A simple recursive argument suggests this exposes them to a real danger of all growing up with the minds of 6-year-olds. And, so far as I can see, that’s exactly what happens. Our present culture may be largely shaped by this strange idea of isolating children’s thought from adult thought. Perhaps the way our culture educates its children better explains why most of us come out as dumb as they do, than it explains how some of us come out as smart as they do. – Marvin Minsky
If it would be wrong for the government to adopt an official religion, then, for the same reasons, it would be wrong for the government to adopt official education policies. The moral case for freedom of religion stands or falls with that for freedom of education. A society that champions freedom of religion but at the same time countenances state regulation of education has a great deal of explaining to do. – James R. Otteson, Freedom of Religion and Public Schooling
Great cycles of history began with vigorous cultures awakening to the needs of children, but collapsing with frayed family ties. Have we failed to learn lessons which Ancient China, Greece and Rome learned too late – about day care and death houses for old folks? Do we without protest accept accelerating preschool and nursing home cultures which warn ominously that the earlier you institutionalize your child, the earlier he will institutionalize you! – Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D.
The fatal attraction of government is that it allows busybodies to impose decisions on others without paying any price themselves. That enables them to act as if there were no price, even when there are ruinous prices – paid by others. – Thomas Sowell
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
No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: ‘But what would you replace it with?’ When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with? – Thomas Sowell
When the state or federal government controls the education of all of our children, they have the dangerous and illegitimate monopoly to control and influence the thought process of our citizens. – Michael Badnarik, 2004 Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate
In keeping Americans ill-educated, ill-informed and constitutionally ignorant, the education establishment has been the politician’s major and most faithful partner. It is in this sense that American education can be deemed a success. – Walter Williams, Professor of Economics, George Mason University (2005)
It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated. — Alec Bourne
College isn’t the place to go for ideas. — Helen Keller
They say that we are better educated than our parents’ generation. What they mean is that we go to school longer. They are not the same thing. — Douglas Yates
Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing–the rest is mere sheep-herding. — Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972) U.S. poet.
Unfortunately, one of the gifts we’ve received from state schooling is the gift of not thinking, the gift of shrugging our shoulders and saying “whatever” when asked to truly exercise our brains. The only thing that’s important is making sure we fill in the correct bubbles on the tests so we can move on to the next stage.
Short-term memory is vital to our institutional schooling “career.” Long-term memory less so. Thinking – hardly at all. To any degree that thinking is necessary, we’re told what to think – no effort required. – Tammy Drennan