Your greatness is measured by your kindness - Your education and intellect by your modesty - Your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices - Your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.
The essence of all education is self-discovery and self-control. When education helps an individual to discover his own powers and limitations and, shows him how to get out of his heredity its largest and best possibilities, it will fulfill its real function, when children are taught not merely to know things but particularly to know themselves, not merely how to do things but especially how to compel themselves to do things, they may be said to be really educated. For this sort of education there is demanded rigorous discipline of the powers of observation, of the reason, and especially of the will.
You who are so wise must know that different nations have different conceptions of things. You will not therefore take it amiss if our ideas of the white man’s kind of education happens not to be the same as yours. We have had some experience with it. Several of our young people were brought up in your colleges. They were instructed in all your sciences; but, when they came back to us, they were bad runners, ignorant of every means of living in the woods, unable to bear either cold or hunger. They didn’t know how to build a cabin, take a deer, or kill an enemy. They spoke our language imperfectly. They were therefore unfit to be hunters, warriors, or counselors; they were good for nothing. We are, however, not less obliged for your kind offer, though we decline accepting it. To show our gratefulness, if the gentlemen of Virginia shall send us a dozen of their sons, we will take great care with their education, instruct them in all we know, and make men of them.
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues.
The educability of a young person as a rule comes to an end when sexual desire breaks out in its final strength. Educators know this and act accordingly; but perhaps they will yet allow themselves to be influenced by the results of psycho-analysis so that they will transfer the main emphasis in education to the earliest years of childhood, from the suckling period onward. The little human being is frequently a finished product in his fourth or fifth year, and only gradually reveals in later years what lies buried in him.
Head knowledge is good, but heart knowledge is indispensable. The training of the hands and feet must be added to make a rounded education. We must all learn these days to become spiritual pioneers if we would save the world from chaos.
The secret of all success is to know how to deny yourself. Prove that you can control yourself, and you are an educated man; and without this all other education is good for nothing... To you self-denial may only mean weariness, restraint, ennui; but it means, also, love, perfection, sanctification.
Nature... is frugal in her operations and will not be at the expense of a particular instinct to give us that knowledge which experience and habit will soon produce. Reproduced sights and contacts tied together with the present sensation in the unity of a thing with a name, these are complex objective stuff out of which my actually perceived table is made. Infants must go through a long education of the eye and ear before they can perceive the realities which adults perceive. Every perception is an acquired perception.
There is an everlasting struggle in every mind between the tendency to keep unchanged, and the tendency to renovate, its ideas. Our education is a ceaseless compromise between the conservative and the progressive factors... Most of us grow more and more enslaved to the stock conceptions with which we have once become familiar, and less and less capable of assimilating impressions in any but the old ways... Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.