Originally posted in 2007

So, what is education? What is it this task that I have signed up for? I’ve been collecting quotes on the topic for several years; when viewed together they paint an inspiring yet daunting picture. All bolding is my own doing, italicizations are original.

EDUCATION – The bringing up, as of a child; instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and dorm the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

– Noah Webster’s Dictionary


The end then of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.

– John Milton

For the sole true end of education is simply this: to teach men how to learn for themselves; and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain.
– Dorothy Sayers

Education is the process of selling someone on books.

– Douglas Wilson

Classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness and beauty so that, in Christ, a student is better able to know, glorify and enjoy God.

– Andrew Kern

Education is not a subject and it does not deal in subjects. It is instead the transfer of a way of life.

– G.K. Chesterton

The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.

– C.S. Lewis

The entertainment model of education wants the students to enjoy themselves; the older classical model wants students to be disciplined so that they come to enjoy their work.

– Douglas Wilson

This is the heart of a good education: a small but well-chosen library, a place to sit and study, some friends to do it with, and the time and tranquility to do it in.

– Wes Callihan

I call therefore a complete and generous education that which fits a man to perform justly, skilfully, and magnanimously, all the offices, both private and public, of peace and war.

– John Milton

Education is the nurtureand development of the whole man for his proper end.

– R.L. Dabney

The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one’s mind a pleasant place in which to spend one’s leisure.

– Sydney J. Harris

The end of education is not thinking; it is acting. It is not just knowing what to do; it is doing it.

– David Hicks, Norms and Nobility

A consistent Christian pedagogy sees education as inherently religious, as something that involves the whole person in the context of the whole universe, a universe created by the triune God.

– Douglas Wilson

The purpose of education is not the assimilation of facts or the retention of information, but the habituation of the mind and body to will and to act in accordance with what one knows.

– David Hicks, Norms and Nobility

But what, then, do we mean by education? Education is implication into God’s interpretation. No narrow intellectualism is implied in this definition. To think God’s thoughts after him, to dedicate the universe to its Maker, and to be the vicegerent of the Ruler of all things: this is man’s task.

– Cornelius Van Til

The Christian imagination is not icing on the cake of education. A true understanding of the imagination is at the center of all true education.

– Douglas Wilson

What is education? Properly speaking, there is no such thing as education. Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another. … What we need is to have a culture before we hand it down. In other words, it is a truth, however sad and strange, that we cannot give what we have not got, and cannot teach to other people what we do not know ourselves.

– G.K. Chesterton

What are your favorite quotes on or definitions of education?

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