I enjoy thinking about and sharing my ideas and experiences as a teacher and a teacher of teachers. Before I retired in 2006, I had written quite a few books and scholarly papers. Since then, the total has grown to more than a thousand documents. Most of them are available free on my IAE website at http://iae-pedia.org/Main_Page.
This IAE Newsletter is about my three collections of quotations from a broad range of sources, and how I use them in my writing. These are quotations that resonate with the way I view education and my ideas about improving our educational systems. Nowadays, in writing an IAE Newsletter, I usually begin with one or two quotations from my collections. Also, I often use a quotation or two at the beginning of a chapter in a book I am writing. When I cannot find one in my collections that fits my immediate needs, I browse the Web until I find one or more, both to use and to add to my collections. In total, these three IAE-pedia quotation collections have had over 210,000 page views (Moursund, 2020, link1; link2; link3).
My most recent book is titled Computer Cultural Literacy for Educators (Moursund, 2020, link). It has some dictionary-like characteristics in that its content is a long list of the names of various people, along with a second list of important occurrences in the development and current uses of computers. The book begins with the quotation:
“In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed …” (From Samuel Johnson’s Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language, published in London in 1755. This was the world’s first English language dictionary.)
This applies to the short book I had just completed, suggests that the book has useful content, and provides a recognition that it is far from being comprehensive. I could have said this in my own words, but it made me feel good to make use of a quotation from a person whose scholarly work made a major contribution to the world.
Quoting a well-known person adds a level of authenticity to what one is saying or writing. However, it is not a “proof” in that sense of a research-based proof in mathematics or one of the other disciplines.
The types of quotations that most appeal to me are ones in which the writer is sharing insights into the wisdom of the ages that is relevant to my specific interests. The quotation from Benjamin Franklin resonates with me because I believe that I have a lot to share, both with current educators and with some future educators. The Chinese proverb is fundamental to the writing that I have done over the years. I put a lot of thinking effort into what I write, and I want my readers to think as they read my writings. I especially like Margret Mead’s statement, and I like to believe that what I have been doing in my life is helping to improve the world. In some sense, each of these quotations makes me feel good about what I am doing.
In this newsletter, I share a few of my favorite quotations. All are from my IAE-pedia document titled Quotations Collected by David Moursund (Moursund, 2020, link.) I began writing this Web page in August of 2009, and have added to it over the years. It now has had more than 76,000 page views.
Some widely used quotations have their roots in antiquity, and their original author is unknown. Here are some examples related to teaching, learning, and growing up to become a responsible adult in today’s world. They are arranged in alphabetical order.
“A penny saved is a penny earned.” (While sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin, this quotation goes back well before his time, and is unattributed.)
“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month's study of books.” (Chinese proverb.)
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” (Chinese proverb.)
“He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” (Adage, unattributed.)
“Ignorance is merely a condition of lacking knowledge. It is cured by education.” (Adage, unattributed.)
“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” (African proverb.)
“Learning without thinking is labor lost; thinking without learning is dangerous.” (Chinese proverb.)
“No one gets rich teaching, but no one
lives a richer life.” (Adage, unattributed.)
“One good teacher outweighs a ton of books.” (Chinese proverb.)
“The longest journey begins with the first step.” (Chinese proverb.)
“Think globally, act locally.” (Multiple sources.)
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.” (Adage, unattributed.)
As you read the items in this list, did you think about what each means and whether or not you agree with the statement? As an example, I have been familiar with the first statement for many years, but have puzzled about what it likely means. I just looked it up on the Web, and from what I read it is clear that the people who originally used this phrase were talking about buying a product or service for a penny less than one expects to pay (or, less than the asking price). Thus, a penny is saved, and in essence one has “earned” this penny by the effort of saving it.
Are there any items that you strongly disagree with in the list, or perhaps ones that you think are irrelevant in today’s “modern” times? Personally, I find merit in all of them, and I am somewhat surprised that the quotes that seem to come from very long ago still seem relevant today. This reminds me of the idiom, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I looked this quotation up on the Web, and found the statement attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, January, 1849. But (here’s another idiom): “I couldn’t care less.”
This reminds me a joke (unattributed). “I don’t know what’s so special about Shakespeare. All he did was string together a bunch of quotations.” This is funny because lines from his plays are so often quoted. Laughing at this joke helps to show that you are familiar with his writings.
The second quotation in the list of given above makes me stop and think about whether or not I agree with it. I presume it dates back to a time when there were relatively few books, but there were some wise insightful people. Think of Aristotle, for example. He was born in approximately 384 BC, a time when books were not readily available, and when not many people were well educated. It may have been true that a conversation with Aristotle was worth a month’s study of the available books and other writings. This gives us some insights into the history of life at that time.
However, my argumentative brain wants to argue that this situation has changed, because I can readily access the Web. I can access documents—including videos—by and/or about a great many different learned people. I thoroughly enjoy deep conversations with my learned colleagues, but in some sense the Web allows me to access the thinking of a much larger number of such people.
Even then, I do believe that the messages presented in these quotations should be included in the education of all students. They are part of the cultural literacy of the world.
The discussion given above illustrates a way of making use of well-known quotations as an aid to teaching history and other subject areas.
This section offers a few of my favorite quotations from people who are an important part of our world’s past. Each quotation serves the dual purpose of helping me to learn about the person, and helping me to gain insight into the times when that person lived. I find this is a fun way to learn some history and to develop my personal philosophy. I have added a brief personal comment to each of these quotations.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. … It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.” (Isaac Asimov; 1920-1992; American writer of science fiction and popular science who wrote or edited more than 500 books.)
Comment: Isaac Asimov is one of my favorite authors, and his quotation is increasingly appropriate each year as information overload becomes a growing problem even for researchers working in a relatively restricted field. My interests span the roles of Information and Communication Technology in all areas and at all levels of education. Each day I fall further and further behind. This is true not only in my professional work, but also in following what is going on in the world, in my country, in my state, in my town, and so on. The ready availability of the Web greatly exacerbates the information overload problem (Moursund, 2016, link).
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela; South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999; 1918-2013.)
Comment:. Nelson Mandela’s courage and dedication serves as a role model to all of us who are working to improve the quality of life of people throughout the world. He did not give in or give up when faced by what most people would consider to be overwhelming opposition and difficulties. He made a huge contribution to improving the lives of oppressed people in South Africa and in other countries.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead; famed American cultural anthropologist; 1901-1978.)
Comment: I am buoyed up by her words of wisdom as I continue my lifetime of professional work aimed at improving education at all levels and throughout the world. It is fun to examine the lives of the many people throughout history who have contributed to major improvements in the world. Each of us can contribute to this endeavor. Remember, every interaction you have with another person is both a teaching and a learning experience for each of you.
“There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.” (Henry Louis “H.L.” Mencken; American journalist, essayist, editor; 1880-1956.)
Comment: I remember and use this quotation, not because of the fame of the author, but because it is so very true and widely applicable. Take the problem of improving education. We humans have had more than 5,000 years of experience in working to improve schooling. Innumerable “solutions” to this problem have been tried out over these years. We have made a great deal of progress, but still had a lot of room for improvement before electronic digital computers came onto the scene. I am particularly interested in changes due to and/or made possible through the use of Information and Communication Technology and artificial intelligence.
“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” (Isaac Newton; English mathematician and physicist; 1642-1726.)
Comment: Many successful researchers have made this observation. It is one that is applicable to each of us. As students and teachers, we stand on the shoulders of all who have come before, both “giants” and other more ordinary people.
“My familiarity with various software programs is part of my intelligence if I have access to those tools.” (David Perkins; American Professor, recently retired from Harvard Graduate School of Education.)
Comment: I use a broad definition of tool. For example, I consider reading, writing, arithmetic, computers, telephones, eye glasses, and hearing aids as tools. All are important aids to my day-to-day functionality. While the term Artificial Intelligence only goes back to about 1955, the tools of reading and writing go back to about 3,500 BC, and these older tools certainly are aids to the intelligence of their users.
You undoubtedly have heard the expression, “giving credit where credit is due.” For me, it makes no difference who might have used this expression originally. It is an important idea, one frequently stated when talking about and writing about plagiarism. I believe it is very important to teach this idea to our students.
However, all of us feel comfortable in frequently violating this suggestion. When was the last time you told a joke and attributed it to the person who first said or wrote it? Does it make any difference to you and to the rest of the people alive today that we do not know the names of the people who first “invented” writing and reading. Aha! “All things in moderation.” Does it make any difference who first said this?
We like to give credit to Johann Gutenberg for inventing the first movable type printing press. He made use of metal type, which was a major contribution to the world. However, use of wooden blocks and type in printing presses long predates him. People nowadays find it convenient to make use of his name in describing a particularly important technological breakthrough that changed the world. This was a turning point in human history.
For me, memorizing Gutenberg’s name is far less important than knowing an approximate time when inexpensive written documents and books began to be available to the masses, and certainly Gutenberg changed our world. For a more recent example, consider the transistor. This invention occurred during my childhood, and certainly has changed our world. For me, personally, the idea that this small, rugged, long-lasting device can replace a vacuum tube in electronic circuits is quite important. But, the “who, where, and how” is something that —if I really want to know—I can look up on the Web. That is what I did when I included John Shockley’s name and other information about him in my most recent book, Computer Cultural Literacy for Educators (Moursund, 2020, link.)
Collecting and using quotations is an important part of understanding human culture. If you are a school teacher, I hope you will engage your students in finding and appropriately using quotations from and about the disciplines you are teaching. This will enrich their education. You might want to post a quotation of the week on your bulletin board, and spend a few minutes asking your students what the quotation means to them in light of what they are learning in your class.
Moursund, D. (2020). Alfabetización informática cultural para educadores. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/27/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Alfabetizaci%C3%B3n_Inform%C3%A1tica_Cultural_para_Educadores.
Moursund, D. (2020). Computer cultural literacy for educators. Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/27/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Cultural_Computer_Literacy_for_Educators.
Moursund, D. (2020). Education quotations. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/29/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Education_Quotations.
Moursund, D. (2020). Math education quotations. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/29/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Math_Education_Quotations.
Moursund, D. (2020). Quotations collected by David Moursund. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 11/29/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Quotations_Collected_by_David_Moursund.
Moursund, D. (2018). La cuarta R (Segunda edición). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/25/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/La_Cuarta_R_(Segunda_Edici%C3%B3n).
Moursund, D. (2018). The fourth R (Second edition). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 11/24/2020 from http://i-a-e.org/downloads/free-ebooks-by-dave-moursund/307-the-fourth-r-second-edition.html.
Moursund, D (2016). Information underload and overload.
IAE-pedia. Retrieved 12/2/2020 from http://iae-pedia.org/Information_Underload_and_Overload.
David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner). He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online (IAE Books, 2020, link.)
Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE) in 2007. IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of IAE and AGATE (IAE, 2020, link; AGATE, 2020, link.)
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