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.
Whatever study tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and citizens is at best a specious an ingenious sort of idleness; and the knowledge we acquire by it only a credible kind of ignorance, nothing more.
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.
To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never. In a word, to let the spiritual unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.
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.
Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.