Homeschool Corner

Inspirational Quotations From Across Time and Cultures

By Compiled by Amelia Harper

The following quotations regarding educational approaches may help provide inspiration for you as you continue your homeschool journey. They also may provide support for your position as you face those who prefer the status quo. These quotations have been culled from many different sources, and the original source has been identified wherever possible.


“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Plutarch (46–120), Greek historian and biographer.


“From my grandfather’s father, [I learned] to dispense with attendance at public schools, and to enjoy good teachers at home, and to recognize that on such things money should be eagerly spent.”

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121–180), Roman Emperor and philosopher. Quoted from Meditations Book I.


“I learned most, not from those who taught me but from those who talked with me.”

St. Augustine (c. 354–430), theologian and Bishop of Hippo. Quoted from Confessions of St. Augustine.


“All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”
Sir Walter Scott (1171–1832), Scottish writer and poet. Quoted from Letters of Sir Walter Scott.


“I am much afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which means are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must be corrupt.”

Martin Luther (1483–1546), German Protestant reformer.


“A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), American inventor and statesman.


“I pay the schoolmaster, but ’tis the schoolboys that educate my son.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882), American poet and essayist. Quoted from his Journals.


“The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man which it forms. If it injures the intelligence, it is bad; if it injures the character, it is vicious; if it injures the conscience, it is criminal.”

Henri Frederic Amiel (1821–1881), Swiss philosopher and poet, Quoted from Journal Intime.

“Our school education ignores, in a thousand ways, the rules of healthy development.”

Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910), first American woman doctor.


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

Edward Grieg (1843–1907), Finnish composer. Quoted in Grieg and His Music by Henry T. Finck.


“I remember that I was never able to get along at school. I was always at the foot of the class.”

Thomas Edison (1847–1931), American inventor. Quoted in Matthew Josephson, Edison: A Biography.


“My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner.


“What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”

George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner.


“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think.”

Anne Sullivan (1866–1936), Helen Keller’s teacher.


“Thank goodness my education was neglected.”

Beatrix Potter (1866–1943), British author and illustrator, best known for the Peter Rabbit stories.


“Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

Winston Churchill (1874–1965), British statesman.


“It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry…”

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), German–American physicist.


“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”

Albert Einstein (1879–1955), German–American physicist.


“Every politically controlled educational system will inculcate the doctrine of state supremacy sooner or later… Once that doctrine has been accepted, it becomes an almost superhuman task to break the stranglehold of the political power over the life of the citizen. It has had his body, property and mind in its clutches from infancy. An octopus would sooner release its prey. A tax–supported, compulsory educational system is the complete model of the totalitarian state.”

Isabel Patterson (1886–1961), Canadian writer and political philosopher. Quoted from The God of the Machine.


“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.”

Agatha Christie (1890–1976), British mystery writer.


“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”

C. S. Lewis (1898–1963), British author and essayist. Quotation from The Abolition of Man.


“Learning … should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life’s greatest adventure; it is an illustrated excursion into the mind of noble and learned men, not a conducted tour through a jail.”

Taylor Caldwell (1900–1985), British novelist.


“Try not to have a good time … This is supposed to be educational.”

Charles Schulz (1922–2000), American cartoonist, creator of Peanuts.


“School is the advertising agency which makes you believe that you need the society as it is.”

Ivan Illich (1926– ), Austrian educator and social critic, from Deschooling Society.


“The founding fathers in their wisdom decided that children were an unnatural strain on parents, so they provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called education. School is where you go between when your parents can’t take you and industry can’t take you.”

John Updike (1932–2009), American writer and literary critic. Quoted from The Centaur.


“Parents and families are the first and most important teachers. If families teach a love of learning, it can make all the difference in the world to our children.”

Richard W. Riley (1933– ), former U.S. Secretary of Education.


“There isn’t any known way to bulk–educate; it’s all custom work.”

John Taylor Gatto (1935– ), Former New York Teacher of the Year and current homeschool proponent.


“Satan hates what God loves and God loves us, Mankind. The basic unit of Mankind is the family, so Satan has targeted the Family, and he has been pretty successful, mostly by using ’good intentions.’ I think that ’School’ is one of his very clever inventions. As far as I am concerned, schools are for fish.”

Douglas Gresham (1945– ), stepson of C. S. Lewis and producer of The Chronicles of Narnia films, quoted in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.


“Education begins at home and I applaud the parents who recognize that they—not someone else—must take responsibility to assure that their children are well–educated.”

Ernest Istook (1950– ), former U.S. Representative from Texas


“Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”

Melinda Harmon, Federal District Judge, in decision rendered in 1996. Quoted in None Dare Call It Education by John A. Stormer.


“You will not reap the fruit of individuality in your children if you clone their education.”

Marilyn Howshall, from Wisdom’s Way of Learning.


“It is capable of exact demonstration that if every party in the State has the right of excluding from the public schools whatever he does not believe to be true, then he that believes most must give way to him that believes least, and then he that believes least must give way to him that believes absolutely nothing, no matter in how small a minority the atheists and the agnostics may be. It is self–evident that on this scheme, the United States system of national popular education will be the most efficient and wide instrument for the propagation of atheism which the world has ever seen.”

A. A. Hodge (1823–1886), former chair of systematic theology at Princeton University.


“I am as sure as I am of the fact of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education separated from religion, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti–Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti–social, nihilistic ethics, individual, social, and political, which this sin–rent world has ever seen.”

A. A. Hodge (1823–1886), former chair of systematic theology at Princeton University.



Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of five and a pastor’s wife. She is also the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a complete one–year literature curriculum for secondary–level students. In addition, she is an English tutor and a freelance writer who contributes regularly to newspapers and magazines. For more information, go to http://www.homescholarbooks.com/.

Copyright 2011, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps from www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.


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