Quotes for Teachers

compiled by Richard D. Zakia
Professor Emeritus
Rochester Institute of Technology

You can send e-mail to Dr. Zakia at rzakia@nc.rr.com

... for teachers past, present and future


It has been said that everyone is a collector, a collector of something; stamps, baseball cards, basketball cards, photographs, music, antiques, etc. I am a collector, a collector of quotations, and have been for years. It is only recently that I have asked myself why I collect them.

My answer is that these terse terms made by men and women throughout history speak to me in a very profound way. They are short, to the point, and full of imagery. They are memorable, visual "sound bites". I view tham as a precious inheritance to be shared. They continue to echo their presence to each generation.

Out of the thousands of quotations I have collected over the years these are some that have spoken to me as a young teacher, and indeed, thoughout my entire teaching career. If you listen, I am sure they will speak to you also.

                                                           Richard D. Zakia
By viewing the old we learn the new                                   Chinese Proverb

I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers and only the thread that
bonds them is my own. Michel Montaigne

They know enough who know how to learn. Henry Adams

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
Henry Adams

Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right
answers. Josef Albers

The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influences...
Amos Alcott

You can't direct the wind but you can adjust the sails. Anonymous

Even the clearest water appears opaque at great depth. Anonymous

We think of the effective teachers we have had over the years with a sense of
recognition, but those who have touched our humanity we remember with a
sense of gratitude. Anonynous student

Education is the best viaticum of old age. Aristotle

Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted... but
to weigh and consider. Francis Bacon

Out of monuments, names, words proverbs ...and the like, we do save and
somewhat from the deluge of time. Francis Bacon

Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing an exact man.
Francis Bacon

You can observe a lot by just looking around. Yogi Berra

Opposites are not contradictory but complementary. Niels Bohr

It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot irreverance
to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question
it. Jacob Bronowski

A man should first direct himself in the way he should go. Only then should
instruct others. Buddha

We think too much about effective methods of teaching and not enough about
effective methods of learning. John Carolus S.J.

No matter how good teaching may be, each student must take the responsibility
for his own education. John Carolus S.J.

The job of an educator is to teach students to see the vitality in themselves.
Joseph Campbell

Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
Albert Camus

I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand.
Chinese Proverb

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.
Chinese Proverb

The empires of the future are the empires of the mind. Winston Churchill

What greater or better gift can we offer the republic than to teach and instruct
our youth. Marcus T. Cicero

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know.
Marcus T. Cicero

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. Marcus T. Cicero

The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
Pierre de Coubertin

To think is to differ. Clarence Darrow

The chief cause of human errors is to be found in the prejudices picked up in
childhood. Rene Descartes

The origin of thinking is some perplexity, confusion or doubt. John Dewey

One can think effectively only when one is willing to endure suspense and to
undergo the trouble of searching. John Dewey

There is no education like adversity. Benjamin Disraeli

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depricate agitation, are men who
want crops without plowing the ground. Frederick Douglass

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and
knowledge. Albert Einstein

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simplier.
Albert Einstein

No one can become really educated without having pursued some study in
he took no interest ... T.S. Eliot

Reinventing the wheel is a process. Rashid Elisha

To arrive at the simple is difficult. Rashid Elisha

Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us
evidence of the fact. George Eliot (Mary-Ann Evans)

Every artist was at first an amateur. Ralph W. Emerson

Whoso neglects learning in his youth, loses the past and is dead to the

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone
keeps learning stays young. Henry Ford

Awaken people's curiosity. It is enough to open minds, do not overload
Put there just a spark. Anatole France

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. Sigmund Freud

I have an infamously low capacity for visualizing relationships, which made
study of geometry and all subjects derived from it impossible for me.
Sigmund Freud

When inspiration does not come to me, I go half way to meet it.
Sigmund Freud

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within
Galielo Galilei

There is more to life than increasing its speed. Mohandes Gandhi

Vague and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end.
Kahlil Gibran

A talent is formed in stillness, a character in the world's torrent.
Johann W. Goethe

An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent
philosopher. John W. Gardner

If you do not expect it, you will not find the unexpected, for it is hard to
find and difficult. Heraclitus

People learn more quickly by doing something or seeing something done.
Gilbert Highet

Education can be dangerous. It is very difficult to make it not dangerous.
fact, it is almost impossible. Robert M. Hutchins

Sometimes one man with courage is a majority. Andrew Jackson

In the practical use of our intellect, forgetting is as important as
remembering. William James

These then are my last words to you: be not afraid of life. Believe that life
is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. William James

It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance... and I know of
no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.
Henry James Jr.

Education is man's going forward from cocksure ignorance to thoughtful
uncertainty. Kenneth G. Johnson

Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its values only to its scarcity.
Samuel Johnson

To teach is to learn twice. Joseph Joubert

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since
cannot make yourself as you wish to be. Thomas A. Kempis

Creative activity is not a superimposed, extraneous task against which the
body, or brain protests, but an orchestration of ... joyful doing.
Gyorgy Kepes

Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier.

Charles F. Kettering

There are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to
doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. Alfred Korzybski

When asked what learning was the most necessary, he said, "Not to unlearn
what you have learned!" Diogenes Laertius

Learning is never done without errors and defeat. Vladimir Lenin

Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never
be uprooted. Vladimir Lenin

I have been maturing as a teacher. New experiences bring new sensitivities
and flexibility... Howard Lester

To do just the opposite is a form of imitation. Georg Lichtenberg

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system
respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject
which we as a people may be engaged in. Abraham Lincoln

Certain subjects yield a general power that may be applied in any direction
and should be studied by all. John Locke

A note of music gains significance from the silence on either side.
Ann Morrow Lindberg

To define is to destroy, to suggest is to create. Stephane Mallarme

Education...beyond all other devices of human origin, is a great equalizer
of conditions of men --the balance wheel of the social machinery...It does
better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents
being poor. Horace Mann

People's behavior makes sense if you think about it inn terms of their goals,
needs, and motives. Thomas Mann

The young don't know what age is, and the old forget what youth was.
Seumas MacManus

Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. Michelangelo

Let the potential artist in our children come to life that they may surmount
industrial monotonies and pressures. Barbara Morgan

Teachers should guide without dictating, and participate without dominating.
C.B. Neblette

The critical factor is not class size but rather the nature of the teaching
as it affects learning. C.B. Neblette

How many writers are there... who, breaking up their subject into details,
destroy its life, and defraud us of the whole by their anxiety about the
parts. Cardinal Newman

Knowledge rests on knowledge; what is new is meaningful because it
slightly from what was known before. Robert Oppenheimer

Only the mind cannot be sent into exile. Ovid

In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind.
Louis Pasteur

The beginning is the most important part of the work. Plato

An object in possession seldom contains the same charm that it had in
Pliny the Younger

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited. Plutarch

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but
in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
Alexander Pope

The basic idea behind teaching is to teach people what they need to know.
Carl Rogers

Education...is a painful, continual and difficult work to be done in
by watching, by warning, by praise, but above all by example.
John Ruskin

Men learn while they teach. Lucius A. Seneca

The great pilot can sail even when his canvass is rent. Lucius A. Seneca

Wonder is the desire for knowledge. St. Thomas Aquinas

It is not often that we use language correctly; usually we use it incorrectly,
though we understand each others meaning. St. Augustine

I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It is such a secret place, the land of tears. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A child educated only at school is an uneducated child. George Santayana

Always to see the general in the particular is the very foundation of genius.
Arthur Schopenhauer

To me the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching.
George Bernard Shaw

The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to
appear. Socrates

One must learn by doing the thing; for though you think you know it, you
no certainty, until you try. Sophocles

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let
Henry David Thoreau

It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. Harry S. Truman

It is easy to spot an informed man -- his opinions are just like your own.
Miguel de Unamuno

The best way to know life is to love many things. Vincent Van Gogh

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and
H.G. Wells

An artist is always out of step with the time. He has to be. Orson Welles

Education should turn out the pupil with something he knows well and
he can do well. Alfred North Whitehead

The limits of your language are the limits of your world.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

I put the relation of a fine teacher to a student just below the relation of
a mother to a son... Thomas Wolfe

Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.
William Wordsworth

The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated in
quotations. Benjamin Disraeli


(c) Richard D. Zakia, 1995
other quote books:
Perceptual Quotes for Photographers
Quotes by Artists for Artists