Educational Quotes


April 2, 2010 by Willy Cardoso

I’ve always enjoyed collecting quotes. From my teenage years being inspired by Kurt Cobain and other grungies, my early twenties by John Lennon and Holden Caulfield, and recently by Carl Rogers and my friend Woody Allen. (Can you see the rationale?)

I’ve been collecting educational quotes as well, which have come in handy when opening or closing a workshop or talk.

I’ve made an unworried attempt to categorize the ones I’ll show here, “just for the hell of it”, as Holden would say. The categories are based on what I look forward to learning there at my first International Conference, IATEFL Harrogate.

Teacher Development and Learner Autonomy are the SIGs I joined.Change is what it is all about when doing something like ‘teaching’ ‘learning’ ‘attending conferences’ ‘writing a blog’ ‘etc’. And finally HAVE FUN, however serious it is, it’s gotta be pleasurable. I have lots of fun with sarcasm and irony, so I compiled some educational quotes for the sake of that.


Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not pull it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked. – Lord Chesterfield

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher strates. The great teacher inspires. -William Arthur Ward

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. We can do no great things, only small things with great love. -Mother Teresa

Study as if you were going to live forever; live as if you were going to die tomorrow. -Maria Mitchell

Never forget that the purpose for which a man lives is the improvement of the man himself, so that he may go out of this world having, in his great sphere or his small one, done some little good for his fellow creatures and labored a little to diminish the sin and sorrow that are in the world. – William E. Gladstone

Teachers must be encouraged – I almost said ‘freed’, to pursue an education that strives for depth of understanding. – Howard Gardner

We must give more attention to the interplay between the science of teaching – pedagogy – and the art of teaching… A teacher must be anchored in pedagogy and blend imagination, creativity and inspiration into the teaching learning process to ignite a passion for learning in student. – Peyton Williams

School improvement is most surely and thoroughly achieved when teachers engage in frequent, continuous and increasingly concrete talk about teaching practices… capable of distinguishing one practice and it’s virtue from another – Judith Warren Little


If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning. – Carl Rogers

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and help them become what they are capable of being. – Goethe

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education. – Albert Eistein

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know. – Daniel J. Boorstin

Morpheus: ‘I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it’ – The Matrix (Film)


Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president… – Nelson Mandela

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. – Alvin Toffler

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. – Paulo Freire

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

Many of our schools are good schools if only this were 1965 – Louise Stoll and Dean Fink

Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time. – Hebrew Proverb


Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so. – Douglas Adams

You have four years to be irresponsible here. Relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So, stay out late. Go out on a Tuesday with your friends when you have a paper due Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does. – Tom Petty

The drive to learn is as strong as the sexual drive. It begins earlier and lasts longer – Edward T Hall

First, God created idiots. That was just for practice. Then He created school boards. – Mark Twain

All I really need to know … I learned in kindergarten. –Robert Fulghum

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. – Will Durant

We don’t have to make human beings smart. They are born smart. All we have to do is stop doing things that make them stupid. – John Holt

and the grand finale

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. – Winston Churchill


3 thoughts on “Educational Quotes

  1. Haha – love that last one. Must take that dusty Encarta Book of Quotations I have down off the shelf some time. A good quote is fab in my book.

    I’m posting soon about teachers and students – change might even pop up somewhere – when I write about risk. Hope it’ll be ok to take a few of the quotes you’ve gathered here? Will send any readers (3, 4 maybe) by way of your blog (planning to link to a few as inspirations for my post)


    • Hey Mike,
      sorry for not replying earlier, iatefl conference got me really busy and I was offline most of the time.
      feel free to take any quotes you like, and also to send me some others you have, as I said, I collect them : )


  2. Mark Bain says:

    Glad to hear you joined us in the IATEFL Teacher Development SIG, and thanks for the link. Don’t forget to register for email updates or the RSS feeds. And we’re also on Twitter ( and Facebook (

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