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Bertrand Russell on education

In the 1950s Russell wrote the following on education in ancient Greece. It's all the more relevant now that we have the internet!

``We recall that science and philosophy were pursued in schools of societies where there was close collaboration between teachers and students. The important truth which seems to have been understood, implicitly at least, from the very beginning is that learning is not a process of dishing out information. Some of this, of course, there must be. But it is neither the sole function of the teacher nor yet the most important one. This is indeed more evident today than it was at that time, for written records were rarer and harder to find than they are now. With us, it stands to reason that anyone who can read can collect information from a library. Less than ever before should a teacher need to pass on mere information. All the more is it to the credit of the philosophers of Greece that they should have grasped how genuine education must be pursued. The role of the teacher is one of guidance, of bringing the pupil to see for himself.

But learning to think independently is not an ability that comes all of a piece. It must be acquired by dint of personal effort and with the help of a mentor who can direct these efforts. This is the method of research under supervision as we know it today in our universities. ...

Education, then, is learning to think for oneself under the guidance of a teacher...''

From p. 68 of Bertrand Russell's Wisdom of the West. Rathbone Books Ltd. 1959. Library of congress 59-11326


The learning of many things does not teach understanding. Heraclitus
We're drowning in information and starving for knowledge. Rutherford D. Rogers