Sunday, May 06, 2012

Bertrand Russell's 10 Commandments for Teachers.

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything. 

2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light. 

3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed. 

4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory. 

5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found. 

6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you. 

7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric. 

8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter. 

9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it. 

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Words to live, and teach by.


(More about Bertrand Russell can be found here.)


  1. 11. Encourage others, especially children, to respect the efforts of others (the clean floor, the vacuumed floor, the folded laundry etc.). Be strident if necessary; I’ve been thanked for this by my stepson’s wife.

    12. Consider the opinions of others, even small children, and allow yourself to be persuaded if the argument is intelligent (probably part of 6).

  2. Anonymous5:48 PM

    As a teacher who works with primary students, one of my top rules is to always have a full box of tissues handy! ;)

    Oh yeah, and never say no if they ask to go to the bathroom while doing the 'dance'.

    (Mine may not be as profound, but they'll prevent a lot of bodily fluids from being strewn about the room!)

  3. Anonymous5:56 PM

    I loved this...Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair. … This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

  4. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Great man!

    This is nice.

  5. Gasman7:17 PM

    Russell was eminently quotable. I would modify #5 somewhat to read "Have MEASURED respect for the authority of others..." Anyone who has worked in ANY school district will tell you how far totally ignoring authority will get you - it will get you fired.

    Another quotable educator was Maria Montessori. A favorite of mine from her is:

    "Bad teaching confounds good with immobility, and evil with activity."

    Another favorite quote of mine about education which has informed my teaching is by French author about occult and magic, Eliphas Levi:

    “A good teacher must be able to put himself in the place of those who find learning hard.”

    Teaching is DEFINITELY more art than science, but I try to be open to anything that might make me a better teacher. The highest compliments I have ever received have come from students who said that I made a difference in their lives.

  6. Ailsa7:18 PM

    And yet the man who many call the greatest philosopher of his time, was found morally unfit to teach philosophy by the Board of Higher Education of the City of New York. like Socrates, the charges leveled against him were atheism and corrupting the young - he approved of sex before marriage (the horror of it!) I suppose we should be grateful they didn't make him drink hemlock.

    Not much changes does it?

  7. Anonymous7:50 PM

    And now a few words from a handful of awful teachers:

    It's sad to think a teacher looks upon her students as "Monsters"... and of course, assumes they're all destined to become evil Liberals... just because they asked to borrow a pen.

  8. Anonymous8:02 PM

    2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

    A Washington Post-ABC News poll from January 2010 found that 81 percent of Americans supported legalizing medical marijuana. A CBS News poll from October found that 77 percent of Americans support allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for serious medical conditions. By contrast, the president’s approval rating last October hovered around 42 percent — and is currently about 47 percent.

  9. Anonymous8:25 PM

    Helps to remember we are all teachers, and we are all students... thank you for an inspiring post! -all 41

  10. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't an atheist teacher have trouble getting past #1?

    1. Consider yourself corrected.

      And your understanding of atheism is appalling.

  11. Gasman6:04 AM

    Why? Wouldn't some inhabitant of the 21st century who places naive certainty in Bronze Age superstition be utterly incapable of getting past #1?

    Do you honestly find your argument compelling?

    You have been corrected.

  12. Excellent, excellent, Palin-free post. I feel like I just had a farm-fresh egg.

  13. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Ten "Commandments" that actually make sense.

  14. Anita Winecooler5:35 PM

    I wouldn't change a thing. Truth is timeless, he was a very wise man


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