March 04, 2004
Some education soundbites

Or aphorisms as they used to be called, culled from the Oxford Book of Aphorisms. A rather scary one to start with:

Education does not consist merely in adorning the memory and enlightening the understanding. Its main business should be to direct the will.
- Joubert, Pensées, 1842

Hm. I say: inform it, and inspire it, yes, but … direct it?

This is better:

Books we want to have young people read should not be recommended to them but praised in their presence. Afterwards they will find them themselves.
- Lichtenberg, Aphorisms, 1764-99

Actually I don't see the harm in a recommendation, so long as you don't slide into directing the will, and keep going on about it. Make your recommendation, but then give it a rest.

The self-educated are marked by stubborn peculiarities.
- Isaac d'Israeli, The Literary Character, 1795

And I like this:

Those who are slow to know suppose that slowness is the essence of knowledge.
- Nietzsche, The Gay Science, 1882-7

This I like, too:

You can't expect a boy to be vicious till he's been to a good school.
- Saki, 'The Baker's Dozen', Reginald in Russia, 1910

Here is one that makes a lot of sense of universities these days:

The University brings out all abilities, including stupidity.
- Checkhov, Notebooks, 1892-1904

This is very true:

To teach is to learn twice.
- Joubert, Pensées, 1842 (again)

And this, finally, nicely summarises the case against the discovery method of learning:

Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.
- Minna Antrim, Naked Truth and Veiled Allusions, 1902

Got to rush. Out to dinner. Probably too much yesterday, not much at all today, but that's blogging for you.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 06:06 PM
Category: This and that