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“It is a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go. The difference is that you can compel your car to go to a garage, but you cannot compel Hitler to go to a psychiatrist.” — Bertrand Russell

No More Pencils

school's out

School’s out for summer, Belleville, Illinois, 1974.

“There is, on the whole, nothing on earth intended for innocent people so horrible as a school.” — George Bernard Shaw

“It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.” — Albert Einstein

“I have not the least doubt that school developed in me nothing but what was evil and left the good untouched.” — Edvard Grieg

“I hope we still have some bright twelve-year-olds who are interested in science. We must be careful not to discourage our twelve-year-olds by making them waste the best years of their lives on preparing for examinations.” — Freeman Dyson

“Education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” — Bertrand Russell

“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.” — E.M. Forster

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“Those writers who lay on the watch for novelty, could have little hope of greatness; for great things cannot have escaped former observation.” — Samuel Johnson

“It is not once nor twice but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world.” — Aristotle

“What wise or stupid thing can man conceive
That was not thought of in ages long ago?” — Goethe

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“The leading advocates of the need to subject everything to the competitive test of the market are tenured economists.” — Sheen Kassouf

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

G.K. Chesterton admired the furrows in a plowed field, made by patient men who “had no notion of giving great sweeps and swirls to the eye”:

Those cataracts of cloven earth; they were done by the grace of God. I had always rejoiced in them; but I had never found any reason for my joy. There are some very clever people who cannot enjoy the joy unless they understand it. There are other and even cleverer people who say that they lose the joy the moment they do understand it.

(From Alarms and Discursions, 1911.)

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“All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals the remedy of books.” — Richard de Bury

Teaching by Example

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“Two great duties, I think, we owe to posterity: one is progress, the other history. Only the former can we share in. The fruits of progress often apply to the generation which bears them. But the records of that progress come closer to being pure charity than any form of charity I know.” — Richard E. Byrd

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“We speak of a manly man, but not of a whaley whale. If you wanted to dissuade a man from drinking his tenth whisky, you would slap him on the back and say, ‘Be a man.’ No one who wished to dissuade a crocodile from eating his tenth explorer would slap it on the back and say, ‘Be a crocodile.'”

— G.K. Chesterton, The Religious Doubts of Democracy, 1903

The Real World

I had a growing feeling in the later years of my work at the subject that a good mathematical theorem dealing with economic hypotheses was very unlikely to be good economics: and I went more and more on the rules — (1) Use mathematics as a shorthand language, rather than an engine of inquiry. (2) Keep to them until you have done. (3) Translate into English. (4) Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. (5) Burn the mathematics. (6) If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This last I did often.

— Alfred Marshall, in a letter to A.L. Bowley, Jan. 27, 1906