Category Archives: Quotes

Quotes, from a variety of sources, related to teaching and learning–somewhat more loosely defined than in other categories on Mark’s Text Terminal.

The Devil’s Dictionary: Absolute

“Absolute, adj. [1.] Independent, irresponsible. An absolute monarchy is one in which the sovereign does as he pleases so long as he pleases the assassins. Not many absolute monarchies are left, most of them having been replaced by limited monarchies, where the sovereign’s power for evil (and for good) is greatly curtailed, and by republics, which are governed by chance. [2.] In Philosophy existing without reference to anything, and for a purely selfish purpose. Absolute certainty is one of the possible degrees of probability. Absolute monarchy is a form of government in which the chief power is vested in a gentleman who is near his end.”

Excerpted from: Bierce, Ambrose. David E. Schultz and S.J. Joshi, eds. The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2000.

Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: Xenophon’s 10,000 Mercenaries

“Xenophon’s Anabasis tells the story of 10,000 elite Greek mercenaries who are left isolated on the losing side of a Persian civil war and fight their way across the mountain tribes of Anatolia to reach the safety of the Black Sea coast. The history of this march in 401 BC was the original story of swashbuckling adventure against the odds and was said to have inspired Philip of Macedon to take on the Persians. T.E. Lawrence had the book in his camel bag during the Arab revolt of 1916. And more recently, transplanted to the gangs of New York, it became the Warriors video game.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Rotten Reviews: Tom Wolfe

I: The Kandy-Kolored, Tangerine-Flake, Streamlined Baby

“One wants to say to Mr. Wolfe; you’re so clever, you can write so well, tell us something interesting.”

Saturday Review

II: The Painted Word

“There is plenty of hot air in this particular balloon, but I don’t see it going anywhere.”

John Russell, New York Times Book Review

Excerpted from: Barnard, Andre, and Bill Henderson, eds. Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections. Wainscott, NY: Pushcart Press, 1998.

Steven Singer: DeVos Pretends to be a Champion of Children with Disabilities, and EdWeek Enables the Hoax

(In a sane world, this would be a scandal.)

Diane Ravitch's blog

Steven Singer is steamed. He read a “Commentary” by Betsy DeVos in Education Week in which she pretends to be a champion of children with disabilities. You don’t have to have a long memory to remember that she testified at her Senate hearing last year that she was unsure what IDEA is or whether the voucher schools she promotes would be bound by federal law.

Steven remembers. He can’t understand why Education Week allowed her to burnish her image, while ignoring the 72 federal regulations she eliminated that protected students with disabilities.

He begins:

“Meet Betsy DeVos, Champion of Students With Special Needs.

“At least that’s who she’s pretending to be this week.

“The wealthy Republican mega-donor who bought her position as Secretary of Education published an article in the current issue of Education Week called “Commentary: Tolerating Low Expectations for Students With Disabilities Must End.”

“It was almost…

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A Cool Word I Hadn’t Heretofore Known

re·a·lia \rē-ˈa-lē-ə, -ˈā-\ n pl [LL, neut. pl. of realis real] (1937)    : objects or activities used to relate classroom teaching to the real life esp. of peoples studied

Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (Kindle Locations 297566-297568). Merriam-Webster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Memorandum to “Tax Cutters”

“Congress—these, for the most part, illiterate hacks whose fancy vests are spotted with gravy, and whose speeches , hypocritical, unctuous, and slovenly, are spotted also with the gravy of political patronage.”

Mary McCarthy

Excerpted from: Winokur, Jon, ed. The Portable Curmudgeon. New York: Plume, 1992.

On Parent/Teacher Conferences

“Teachers who act as if they have something to learn as well as something to contribute, establish better learning relationships with students and parents.”

Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan What’s Worth Fighting for Out There? (1998)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.