School Is Boring: Teach Yourself: Return to School III

Returning to School III

by Owen Fourie

Education Quotes: Part Two

The frustrations with institutionalized education have been expressed by many people over many years. We saw some quotes expressing this in the previous article.

In the quotes contained in this post, three questions are answered:

  1. What are the effects of institutionalized education?
  2. Is there a better form of education?
  3. Is the time for the change in education overdue?

1. What are the effects of institutionalized education?

Why school is boring

  • “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 (1881-1973) Austrian economist, author, historian, and philosopher;
  • “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 (1856-1950) Irish playwright, critic, and political activist;

Killing the genius

  • “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 (1890-1976) British novelist, short story writer, and playwright in the crime and detective genre;
  • “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Jewish, German-born, theoretical physicist;
  • “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 (b. 1928) South African-born, American mathematician, computer scientist, and educator;
  • “School presents daily exercises in dis-association. It forces unwelcome associations on most of its prisoners. It sets petty, meaningless competitions in motion on a daily basis, pitting potential associates against one another in contests for praise and other worthless prizes.” ~ John Taylor Gatto (b. 1935) retired American school teacher;
  • “Study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian Renaissance polymath, archetype of the Renaissance Man;
  • “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 (b. 1928) American writer and futurist.

2. Is there a better form of education?

Teach yourself

  • “Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mediocre educational system. Forget about the Senior Prom and go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.” ~ Frank Zappa (1940-1993) American composer, electric guitarist, and singer;
  • “Children pursue life, and in doing so, pursue knowledge. They need adults to trust in the inevitability of this very natural process, and to offer what assistance they can.” ~ Earl Stevens;
  • “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” ~ Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-born American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, known for his science fiction works;
  • “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” ~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Jewish, German-born, theoretical physicist;
  • “My grandmother wanted me to get a good education, so she kept me as far away from schools as possible.” ~ Margaret Mead (1901-1978) American cultural anthropologist, writer, and speaker;
  • “Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” ~ Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) British author, best known for children’s books;

Be unschooled

  • “Life is learning, learning is life. Unschoolers simply do not think there are times for learning and times for not learning. They don’t divide life into school time or lesson time versus play time or recreation time. There is no such thing as ‘extracurricular’ to an unschooler – all of life, every minute of every day, counts as learning time, and there is no separate time set aside for ‘education.’” ~ Pam Sorooshian – contemporary American unschooling educator.

3. Is the time for the change in education overdue?

  • “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.” ~ John W. Gardner (1912-2002) Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States (1963-1969);
  • “The most potent force for change … is the growing recognition of millions of adults that their own impoverished expectations and frustrations came, in large measure, from their schooling.” ~ Marilyn Ferguson (1938-2008) American author, editor, and public speaker;
  • “In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” ~ Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American social writer and philosopher.

If you are stuck in the education system of your region and you have to play the game for now, rise above the herd by being a prepared student. The next article in this series will show you how to do this.


If you can identify with the issues addressed in this post, your comments, observations, and questions would be most welcome. Which one of the above quotes has the greatest impact on your thinking about education? Do you have a relevant quote that could be included here?

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    • Manoj Kumar on November 14, 2014 at 11:43

    Hi its a very nice article. informative and useful. Thanks for sharing

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