Monday, June 5, 2006

Famous Quotes. Wait for it...I'll get there.

I have two Barnes & Noble University online reading groups starting in July. One is for the non-fiction Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. The other covers four contemporary "classics": The Great Gatsby, Catch 22, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Brave New World, the latter of which I have just started. Of these the only two I've not read previously are the one I'm reading now and Catch 22. I read Devil recently, so I won't be re-reading that, but the others I've not read in many years, so I plan to re-read them by the start of the group (I must get moving on that!).

The same way I can't let different foods touch on my dinner plate, I can't read two books at once. This in mind, I worked furiously to finsh a book of John Steinbeck short stories I had been reading so I could begin my summer reading. While reading Tortilla Flat, I found a quote that I love. I will share it at the end as I am just now getting to the point of this blog.

I intensely dislike the concept of famous quotes. There are actual books dedicated to recording things that people have said or written because they are famous or their book was a bestseller. Teachers in my past have made us find famous quotes we like and then write journal entries on them. I've always found this to be laborious. Recently, I had a chance to figure out why.

I am a member of the newly formed Teacher's Education Club at my college. I normally am not much of a joiner, but this gives me a chance to do some volunteer work that will beef up my resume. The club decided to order T-shirts and wanted to come up with a logo that would define us. The idea was to have everyone in the club think of a logo and submit it so we could then vote for what we liked best. Mine was "The future is in our hands." The club (read: the club's president) decided that not enough people submitted entries to make this idea (of inventing a "logo" for our club) a good one. I didn't care, I wasn't attached to my submission, I was just being a good little joiner.

But then someone in the meeting brought in a list of famous education related quotes so we could vote on those. Everyone generically chimed in with their "oohs" and "aahs". What a great idea! We can let some famous, tired quote define our club! Wow, why didn't I think of that.

My opposition to famous quotes is this: In normal everyday conversation, people say some pretty remarkable things. But of course, it's not remarkable because they aren't famous. So we have this standard that it's only enlightening if someone famous already said it or wrote it and no one could ever hope to come up with something so wonderful. Blech.

But then, against my better judgement, I stumbled accross this in my Steinbeck book and now loathe myself for sharing it:
"Thus do the gods speak with tiny causes."

Now that I've shared my good quote, I will share the crap that one of which will be the Teacher Club's new slogan. Don't worry, people, I refrained from voting, and will likely refrain from sporting a T-shirt which bears this garbage. When I have more time, I just might post another blog ripping apart all that is evil about these quotes.

"A child is not a vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit." - Hebrew Proverb -

Teaching is an Art...And each child is a potential masterpiece. Unknown

I am not a teacher but an awakener. - Robert Frost

A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops. Henry Adams

The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. John Lubbock

We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own. Ben Sweetland

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.Albert Einstein

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. Wiliam Butler Yeats

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand. Native American Saying

Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~Author Unknown

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater. ~Gail Godwin

A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others. ~Author Unknown

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

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