Quote of the Week: On the Philosophy of Education

by Anna Blanch on February 3, 2009

Welcome back to the series of quotes on the Philosophy of Education. This time I thought i would present some quotes by some controversial figures. I found these quotes interesting, in part because I would be likely to dismiss the ideas because of the messengers, but i am reminded to be slow to pass judgment. Of course these snippets are out of context and that is always a problem!

The Teacher is a necessary evil. Let us have as few people as possible between the productive minds and the hungry and recipient minds! The middlemen almost unconsciously adulterate the food which they supply. It is because of teachers that so little is learned, and that so badly. – Nietzsche, 1880

What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult. – Sigmund Freud

To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralysed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it. – Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy

The first assumes that the “productive minds” are not also teachers. It consequently encompasses a challenge to not merely be a “necessary evil” for my students. It is true that sometimes teachers can get in the way of the learning of their students! Freud also has a point – sometimes the joy of learning gets beaten out of children so that by the time they get to college they have shut off! Finally, Russell presents a rationale and telos of teaching and learning philosophy.

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