A selection of quotes by various scholars, statesmen, poets, teachers, and others who have inspired Human Centered Learning. To add a quote, please use this form.

“Winston was being taught to teach himself. He would always be a dud in the classroom and a failure in examinations, but in his own time, on his own terms, he would become one of the most learned statesmen of the coming century.”
-Manchester of Winston Churchill

“Giving somebody feedback, giving somebody curiosity, asking for advice – those are actually all gifts that can make someone else feel value.”

-Michelle Lederman

Hannah More (1745-1833), who joined the Blue Stockings several years after its inauguration, wrote:

Our intellectual ore must shine,
Not slumber idly in the mine.
Let education’s moral mint
The noblest images imprint;
Let taste her curious touchstone hold,
To try if standard be the gold;
But ’tis thy commerce, Conversation,
Must give it use by circulation;
That noblest commerce of mankind,
Whose precious merchandize is MIND!
(The Bas Bleu: or, Conversation, 1787, 288-297)

In using these legislative texts, Churchill would first decide how he felt about an issue, and then read the record of Parliament’s debates on it, making notes in the margin as he went along and checking whether his opinion stood up to scrutiny. Through this practice, he hoped:

“to build up a scaffolding of logical and consistent views which will perhaps tend to the creation of a logical and consistent mind. Of course the Annual Register is valuable only for its facts. A good knowledge of these would arm me with a sharp sword. Macaulay, Gibbon, Plato etc must train the muscles to wield that sword to the greatest effect.”

I am afraid only of people who cannot think.”

-Churchill School of Adulthood by AOM

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

In some circumstances, the refusal to be defeated is a refusal to be educated.
-Margaret Halsey, novelist (13 Feb 1910-1997)

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”
-Plato #multiple intelligences

Indefinite attitudes to the future explain what’s most dysfunctional in our world today. Process trumps substance: when people lack concrete plans to carry out, they use formal rules to assemble a portfolio of various options. This describes Americans today. In middle school, we’re encouraged to start hoarding ‘extracurricular activities.’ In high school, ambitious students compete even harder to appear omnicompetent. By the time a student gets to college, he’s spent a decade curating a bewilderingly diverse résumé to prepare for a completely unknowable future. Come what may, he’s ready — for nothing in particular.

When we optimize for everything we optimize for nothing.

When we try to optimize for life we get into even bigger trouble.

Those who study productivity the most don’t produce the most.

They have nothing to prepare for. There is no context for them to apply anything.

They have made the mistake of believing that you can optimize life. That if they follow the instructions of some study they will find pure bliss. They will finally escape being human.

Without context all we can see is the web of hacks that we’ve created. The perfect routine, the perfect body, and the perfect bank account: all in service of nothing.

Optimization of productivity is like a multiplier. If there is nothing to multiply, you end up at zero. If you have a definite direction you will naturally optimize over time.

Your definite optimism doesn’t even need to be, well, definite. Nobody can predict the future; the point is to have the courage to do so.

  • AOM


A teacher who is attempting to teach, without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron. -Horace Mann, educational reformer (4 May 1796-1859)

Tom: You know, Brett, you’re absolutely right. To piggy back on what you’re just talking about, John Boyd, Scott Page, P-A-G-E, from the University of Michigan published a book in, I think it was 2010, it might’ve been 2009, called The Difference. It was a look at how expertise is almost in every case trumped by diversity. James Surowiecki, in his book, The Wisdom of Crowds, kind of wrote about that.


A lot of people poo-pooed that, but what Page does is he goes and says, “You can find any expert in any field and ask them a question. Almost invariably, if you ask a random group of people who know nothing about or are not experts in that field, the same question and take the mean answer, it’s always going to be more accurate than the experts.”
That’s what made Boyd so brilliant, but that’s also what made Boyd so threatening to his own leadership. Leadership in almost any business, and especially in military, are threatened by guys, people, that try to bring in ideas that are outside of the experience of the organization.
– Art of Manliness Podcast #121 Strategic and Critical thinking with Tom Ruby. Email List 7-6-2015

Greek poet Pindar: “Become who you are.”

The universities were places for self-reflection, places for the highest education in life. Everyone taught everyone else. All were teachers, all were students. The sages listened more than they talked; and when they talked it was to ask questions that would engage endless generations in profound and perpetual discovery. The universities and the academies were also places where people sat and meditated and absorbed knowledge from the silence. Research was a permanent activity, and all were researchers and appliers of the fruits of research. The purpose was to discover the hidden unifying laws of all things, to deepen the spirit, to make more profound the sensitivities of the individual to the universe, and to become more creative.
-(Ben Okri, 1995, pp. 66–67)

Just because you know some things and have a diploma does not mean you are educated.
-Kevin J

We never thought him learned who lived aside the library with keys to its archives. Only she who entered there and lost herself in page and time would soon emerge a better kind. Why should we think it any different now that libraries are found online? For education only comes alive when letters meet the mind.
-Kevin J

A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
-Theodore Roosevelt

By mutual discourse, the soul is awakened and allured to bring forth its hoards of knowledge, and it learns how to render them most useful to mankind.
– Watts 1821[1751]:29

“And we must study through reading, listening, discussing, observing and thinking. We must not neglect any one of those ways of study. The trouble with most of us is that we fall down on the latter — thinking — because it’s hard work for people to think, And, as Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler said recently, ‘all of the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think.’ “
-Thomas Watson – IBM

The Duke of Wellington is often incorrectly quoted as saying that “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton”.[40] Wellington was at Eton from 1781 to 1784 and was to send his sons there. According to Nevill (citing the historian Sir Edward Creasy), what Wellington said, while passing an Eton cricket match many decades later, was, “There grows the stuff that won Waterloo”,[41] a remark Nevill construes as a reference to “the manly character induced by games and sport” amongst English youth generally, not a comment about Eton specifically. In 1889, Sir William Fraser conflated this uncorroborated remark with the one attributed to him by Count Charles de Montalembert’s “C’est ici qu’ a été gagné la bataille de Waterloo” (“It is here that the Battle of Waterloo was won.”)

The mark of the educated man is not in his boast that he has built his mountain of facts and stood on the top of it, but in his admission that there may be other peaks in the same range with men on the top of them, and that, though their views of the landscape may be different from his, they are nonetheless legitimate.
-E.J. Pratt, poet (4 Feb 1882-1964)

“If you do not stand on the shoulders of your predecessors, you will bow before their feet” -Rochelle G

“If you stop asking questions, you stop thinking.” -Pastor Mark @ ellerslie

More Quotes

If I Really Want to Change My Life… - Too often in education, I think, we focus on changing the measurable outcomes and actions of the individual. Not to discount the behaviorist paradigm, but actions must come from somewhere. In this video, Pico Lyer challenges our assumptions of what it takes to change a life. Perhaps it is not simply stuffing more information into the brain, but re-thinking our approach entirely.
The Aim of Liberal Education is Human Excellence… - The aim of liberal education is human excellence…It regards man as an end, not as a means; and it regards the ends of life, and not the means to it. For this reason it is the education of free men. Other types of education or training treat men as means to some other end, or…

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