18 Great Quotes On What It Means To Teach
One thing you might have noticed around here is that we love quotes — particularly great quotes that provide fresh and diverse perspective into the matter of learning, teaching, and putting one’s knowledge to use. Today we’d like to take a look at some great quotes on teaching and what it means to teach. Here are 18 of our favorites.
1. Sometimes I think that wisdoms slip from my mind like drool from the lips of an idiot…
Where’s all this stuff coming from? Is it any good? Any good in, you know, the wisdom sense? Who am I to spout this stuff anyway?
Well, here’s the thing. You too can find yourself shedding wisdom like cat hair if you only allow yourself the liberty of introspection.
Think about what you alone know that no one else does. That one neat wonderful profound insight. It is fully yours. No one else on this planet of about six billion people understands it like you do.
Now, see if you can share it with someone. Bestow it, a gift of yourself.
Wisdom is like gossip. Except it’s the good kind.
— Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
2. [Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.
— Jim Henson
3. The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
— William Arthur Ward
4. Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.
5. In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.
— Phil Collins
6. If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
7. You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.
— Galileo Galilei
8. True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.
— Nikos Kazantzakis
9. I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.
— Albert Einstein
10. I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.
— Haim G. Ginott
11. When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That’s if you want to teach them to think.
— Bertrand Russell
12. Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers.
— Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
13. One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.
— Malala Yousafzai
14. When you study great teachers… you will learn much more from their caring and hard work than from their style.
— William Glasser
15. There’s a lot of talk these days about giving children self-esteem. It’s not something you can give; it’s something they have to build. Coach Graham worked in a no-coddling zone. Self-esteem? He knew there was really only one way to teach kids how to develop it: You give them something they can’t do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process.
— Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
16. The biggest challenge facing the great teachers and communicators of history is not to teach history itself, nor even the lessons of history, but why history matters. How to ignite the first spark of the will o’the wisp, the Jack o’lantern, the ignis fatuus [foolish fire] beloved of poets, which lights up one source of history and then another, zigzagging across the marsh, connecting and linking and writing bright words across the dark face of the present. There’s no phrase I can come up that will encapsulate in a winning sound-bite why history matters. We know that history matters, we know that it is thrilling, absorbing, fascinating, delightful and infuriating, that it is life. Yet I can’t help wondering if it’s a bit like being a Wagnerite; you just have to get used to the fact that some people are never going to listen.
— Stephen Fry, Making History
17. Once she knows how to read there’s only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself.
— Virginia Woolf, Monday or Tuesday
18. This is precisely why I loathed being a teacher! Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything. Has it not occurred to you, my poor puffed-up poppinjay, that there might be an excellent reason why the Headmaster of Hogwarts is not confiding every tiny detail of his plans to you? Have you never paused, while feeling hard-done-by, to note that following Dumbledore’s orders has never yet led you into harm? No. No, like all young people, you are quite sure that you alone feel and think, you alone recognise danger, you alone are the only one clever enough to realise what the Dark Lord may be planning.
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The different perspectives on what it means to teach or be a great teacher share a common through line — that at some point, it becomes the responsibility of the learner to venture out into their own understanding. Great teachers and great teaching moments are therefore the moments that inspire one to look within himself and grow beyond the person he is to the person he’s supposed to be.