Quotes for Teachers

compiled by Richard D. Zakia
Professor Emeritus
School of Photographic Arts and Sciences
Rochester Institute of Technology

You can send e-mail to Dr. Zakia at rdzpph@rit.edu

... 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.                  
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 deep
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 recover 
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 he
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 which 
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 wordy
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 future.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.  Anyone who
keeps learning stays young.                                         Henry Ford
Awaken people's curiosity.  It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. 
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 the
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 himself.
                                                               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. In
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 you
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 departs
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 pursuit.
                                                             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 saying 
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 kindness, 
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 have
no certainty, until you try.                                         Sophocles
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
                                                           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 catastrophe. 
                                                                    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 something 
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

btw ... if you would like to obtain a desktop published version of these quotations, Dr. Zakia has them available for $5 including shipping first class. Autograph included if you want it. Send note to him by sending mail to his POSTOFFICE BOX