Carl Lutzer: Some Favorite Quotes

This page is a collection of quotes that I think are worth preserving for one reason or another. Some are humorous while others are philosphical or spiritual, and still others are pedagogical. The page is really for me, but I thought I'd share it since I'm going through the trouble of collecting the quotes.

  • Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. (Henry David Thoreau)

  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  • Whatever you are, be a good one. (Abraham Lincoln)

  • Three quotes from an article by Tom Eblen in an article for the Lexington Herals-Leader

    • [In order to be] leaders and innovators in the 21st century economy --- and not just the technicians who implement other people's ideas --- we must invest more public money in higher education that goes well beyond "workforce development."

    • The global economy is increasingly driven by creativity and innovation. Knowledge of the humanities, language, culture and the arts has never been more important.

    • Higher education is about enriching people's lives, not just their bank accounts.

  • I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand. (Often attributed to Confucius)

  • The best way to learn is to do. The worst way to teach is to talk. (Paul Halmos, in the article The Problems of Learning to Teach. The American Mathematical Monthly. Vol. 82, no. 5, 466--476)

  • While memorization may be the handmaiden of learning, memorization is not learning. (Katherine Mayberry)

  • Creativity, as I see it, is the process of putting your imagination to work. It's been defined rather simply as applied imagination. That's not a bad way to think about it. (Sir Ken Robinson, on the TED Radio Hour podcast from NPR)

  • Creativity is the twin sibling of curiosity. (Carl Lutzer, at the October 2014 meeting of the MAA Seaway Section.)

  • Understand simple things deeply. (Edward Burger and Michael Starbird in their book The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking)

  • The secret to education is respecting the pupil. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  • What real changes in human beings do we make? (Michael Starbird, January 2014 at the Joint Math Meeting, addressing the role of education)

  • Understanding is a spectrum, not a binary proposition.... We are teaching a way of thinking, not a way of doing. (Paraphrased from a talk given by Ed Burger, January 2014 at the Joint Math Meeting)

  • One of the strongest feelings you can get in life---one of the most rewarding feelings---is the feeling of an "Aha, I finally understand." (Penn Jillette on the RadioLab podcast Black Box)

  • Just as you can't become a marathon runner by watching marathons on TV, likewise for science, you have to go through the thought processes of doing science and not just watch your instructor do it. (Eric Mazur, quoted by Sara Rimer in her NYTimes article on changing methods in teaching physics)

  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not Eureka! (I found it!) but rather, "Hmm.... that's funny...." (Isaac Asimov)

  • Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why. (Bernard Baruch)

  • Through and through the world is infested with quantity. To talk sense is to talk quantities. It is no use saying the nation is large. How large? It is no use saying the radium is scarce. How scarce? You cannot evade quantity. You may fly to poetry and music, and quantity and number will face you in your rhythms and your octaves. (Alfred North Whitehead)

  • On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. (Charles Babbage)

  • The only things you HAVE to know are how to make enough of a living to stay alive and how to get your taxes done. All the fun parts of life are optional. (found at xkcd webcomic (mouse over the comic), author unknown)

  • Perilous to us all are the devices of an art deeper than we possess ourselves. (Gandalf to Perigrin Took in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings)

  • I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again. (A variation on a quote that's attributed to Stephen Grellet)

  • Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. (Unkown)

  • The chief cause of unhappiness and failure is trading what you want most for what you want now. (Attributed to Zig Ziglar)

  • The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. (Michelangelo)

  • Obstacles are what we see when we take our eyes off the goal. (Attributed to Rita Davenport)

  • You're never more alive than when things get turned upside down. I love the feeling, actually, of having my apple cart overturned. (Malcolm Gladwell)

  • There's all the difference in the world between having something to say, and having to say something. (John Dewey)

  • Mathematics is the music of reason. (James Joseph Sylvester)

  • When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings. (W. E. B. Du Bois)

  • [Mathematics] does not reward speed so much as patience, cunning and, perhaps most surprising of all, the sort of gift for collaboration and improvisation that characterizes the best jazz musicians. (Gareth Cook, in his article The Singular Mind of Terry Tao)

  • Science is built up with facts as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house. (Jules Henri Poincare)

  • Nature doesn't care how hard the math is. (George Thurston)

  • Essentially, all models are wrong. Some are useful. (George E. P. Box in his book with Norman Draper, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces)

  • When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. (Isaac Asimov)

  • If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. (Albert Einstein)

  • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

  • We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it. (Edward R. Murrow)

  • Computers are incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination. (Albert Einstein)

  • It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. (Upton Sinclair)

  • A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm. (Charles Schwab)

  • There is no more important task in a democracy than resolving the differences among people and finding a course of action that will be supported by a sufficient number to permit the nation to achieve a better life for all. (Robert S. McNamara, Former Secretary of Defense, in his book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam)

  • We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years -- and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan -- and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in. (Secretary of State Colin Powell, January 2003)

  • There are certain things which are lost by being kept and saved by being used. Any individual talent is like that. If it is used, it will develop into something still greater. If someone refuses to use it, in the end that talent will be lost. Supremely so, life is like that. (William Barclay)

  • The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance. (Benjamin Franklin)

  • There is an easy solution to every problem: neat... and plausible... and wrong. (H. L. Menken)

  • It's not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It's the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our very being is good stuff. That's what makes growing humanity the most potentially glorious enterprise on Earth. (Fred Rogers, 1928-2003)

  • Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated and drunkenness sobered, but stupid is forever. (Aristophanes, as translated for the
    movie "The Emperor's Club")

  • People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Be good anyway. Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway. (Mother Teresa)

  • What you don't know can't help you. (Overheard at a symposium on teaching calculus.)

  • We work so that we can live, not vise versa. (Tim Goodwill)