A good quotation is like the perfect tweet – short, pithy, memorable, wise and wonderful. The the tip of an iceberg of meaning it captures something much bigger than itself with a few well chosen words in the right order. No wonder then we have all become addicted to the quotation as token of our thinking. the shorthand signal for where we stand.
Take for example this one attributed to W.B. Yeats:
“Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”
Great sentiment, oft quoted. But where did Yeats say that? Nowhere so far as I can tell.
In a similar vein there’s this attributed to Plutarch:
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.”
Beyond lists of quotations, can anyone help out with the provenance?
And, on the other hand, “Does it matter?” – Siegfried Sassoon.
So here are a few more really famous quotations that I have just made up. Is it George Orwell? B.F. Skinner? the CEO of McGraw-Hill? William Wordsworth? Alfie Kohn?
What are you favorite quotes that have yet to be attributed to someone famous?
“Uneasy lies the head that teaches to the test.”
“When it comes to education, politicians should stick to their knitting.’
“In a sane world everyone would make art.”
“Teaching paperless is the pipedream of the deluded.’
“Social technology is the death knell of progressive education.”
“Little we see in technology that is ours.'”
“You can fill a bucket with smoke but you can make it drink.”
“No good tweet goes unsung.”
“All the test scores are as nothing if we lose the joy of learning.’
“A child needs a computer like a fish needs a bicycle.”
What are your favorite quotes that have yet to be attributed to someone famous?
February 10th 2010: Thomas Jefferson update: It appears that words and axioms are often attributed to Jefferson without a shred of evidence. here’s one that seems quite spurious: “There is nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people.”