Quote of the Week 2 – More Inspiration for Monday Mornings

Each Monday I put an educational ‘Quote of the Week’ up in the staff room. We refer to it in morning briefing and it stays up for the week. Colleagues seem to find it helpful and I posted the first selection of quotes here.

A quote for each week
Here is the second set, the quotes we’ve used over the 38 weeks of the last school year. I hope you find them helpful. I think they are all accurate and correctly attributed but please let me know if you spot any errors and I’ll correct them. Some were suggested by readers after the first post – thank you and please keep the suggestions coming!

1. Education is inspiring someone’s mind, not just filling their head. Katie Lusk (via @adnanedtech)

2. Take all reasonable advantage of that which the present may offer you. It is the only time which is ours. Yesterday is buried forever, and tomorrow we may never see. Victor Hugo

3. The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you. BB King  (via @urban_teacher)

4. For the best return on your money, pour your purse into your head. Benjamin Franklin

5. When someone takes away your pens you realise quite how important education is. Malala Yousafzai.

6. Knowledge is proud that it knows so much. Wisdom is humble that it knows no more. William Cowper

7. Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William James

8. A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instil a love of learning. Brad Henry

9.  I am always doing what I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. Pablo Picasso 

10. The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.  Michelangelo

11. The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. Linus Pauling

12. Show me a family of readers and I will show you the people who move the world. Napoleon Heilbuth (via @Libroantiguo)

13. The most successful people in life are the ones who ask questions. They’re always learning… growing… pushing.  Robert Kiyosaki (via @GregBCurran)

14. If you want to know the best the world has to offer, offer the world your best.  Neale Donald Walsch

15. Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values.  Dalai Lama

16. Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance. Samuel Johnson

17. Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.  Albert Einstein

18. Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play. Henri Matisse

19. Wonder is the desire for knowledge.      St. Thomas Aquinas

20. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

21. The limits of my language are the limits of my world.  Ludwig Wittgenstein

22. They know enough who know how to learn. Henry Adams

23. The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.  Alvin Toffler

24. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  Maya Angelou

25. A child miseducated is a child lost. John F. Kennedy 

26. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  Henry Ford

27. Learning never exhausts the mind. Leonardo Da Vinci

28. Develop a passion for learning. If you do you will never cease to grow. Anthony J. D’Angelo

29. Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. Sir Ken Robinson

30. He who opens a school door closes a prison. Victor Hugo

31. When schools flourish, all flourishes. Martin Luther King

32. So much universe, so little time. Sir Terry Pratchett

33. What a child doesn’t receive he can seldom later give. P.D. James

34. Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow there, firm as weeds among rocks.  Charlotte Bronte

35. Teaching has been for me an education (Lord knows what it has been for my students).  Howard Nemerov

36. Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.  Henry Ford

37. Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. Winston Churchill

38. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. Pope Francis

I hope you find them useful.

Values in Education – Eulogy or Resumé?

I wrote recently about what key stage three students had taught me through their written applications for a teaching job. One of the points was how highly they rated kindness as a quality in teachers. 

I then came across David Brooks’ work on eulogy virtues versus resumé virtues. Brooks is a columnist for the New York Times and has written a lot about the precedence of qualities that are needed for employment in education and society – ‘resumé virtues’, things you might want on your CV – over ‘eulogy’ virtues, the things you would want to be remembered for at your funeral. Resumé virtues might include being well-organised or having good communicational skills. Eulogy virtues might include being kind, courageous, honest or loving. Brooks argues that, despite the fact that most people regard eulogy virtues as more important, our culture and education systems spend more time on the skills and strategies for employment than on building inner character.

It occurred to me that in many ways Brooks’ thinking mirrors the debate on character education. Whatever your view on this, I’d like to suggest that the response of pupils to writing an application for a teaching job shows that most include a mix of eulogy values and resume values, but typically place more importance on eulogy values. Here are the most frequent qualities listed:

Eulogy virtues






Resumé virtues


Communication skills

Differentiates for student’s needs

Behaviour management

Advises / Guides

I would be interested to know how these compare with the responses of students in other schools. If you have done something similar, please get in touch.

What interests me is that the resumé virtues thatthe pupils listed can all be found in a typical person specification for a teaching job, but how often do we include the eulogy values? Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that any school would actively seek to recruit unkind, uncaring, inconsiderate, unfair, cold-hearted staff, nor that such qualities are generally found in applicants! But why don’t we include these? Is it because we take them as a given and assume that they will be present in all teachers, or because we tend not to focus on them as important?

Brooks takes the view that character is made, not born; that we all have the potential to develop eulogy values, but too often a focus on career leads to ‘moral mediocrity’. He takes the view that character development comes from, among other things,  an honesty about our own weaknesses and a willingness to grapple with them, a realisation of the importance of relationships and our connectedness with others, and energising love – the ‘L’ word that students are not afraid to use. If he is right, perhaps we as teachers should take care to spend time on the eulogy values as well as the employability skills.

You can read more about David Brooks ideas athttp://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/12/opinion/sunday/david-brooks-the-moral-bucket-list.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fdavid-brooks&_r=0&referrer=

What my students taught me during May 2015

This is the first in what I hope will become a series of posts about what I learn from the students I teach.

Most of these insights come from work KS3 students completed as part of a ‘takeaway’ homework set by SLT, and through talking with some of our leavers about their school experience.

1. Don’t let my preconceptions limit opportunities for Students. Despite over twenty years of teaching experience, I still sometimes underestimate young people.  One of the homework options was to enter a competition, run by the charity the Father Hudson’s Society, to raise awareness of the impact prison can have on women and their families. I included it because it’s a charity the school supports and we were invited to. I thought however that it wouldn’t appeal much to KS3 pupils, that they wouldn’t relate to it. How wrong I was. We received a wide range of poems, artwork and creative writing. The problem we now have is selecting only three items to enter from our school.*

2. Students make continual, largely accurate, assessments of teaching, regardless of whether or not we have organised student voice initiatives. A takeaway homework option was to write an application for a teaching post. They used this to write about the qualities a teacher should (and in some cases shouldn’t) have. Many were at least as good, if not better, than some actual applications we receive. Some year 13 leavers have been telling us about what helped – or hindered – them in their time at school. They gave unnervingly accurate vignettes of some members of staff! One quality all students value is kindness. We don’t currently put this on person specs, maybe we take it for granted but perhaps we should include it up front. I’ve seen that some primary schools include what pupils are looking for in job ads.

3. Family members are the major source of inspiration for young people. Another homework option was to write a biography of someone you admire. As you might expect, we got responses about all the great leaders of our time. Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Khloe Kardashian, they were all cited. As has happened before, however, a large number of students wrote about family members (most often mothers) and why they admire and feel inspired by them. When we ask leavers who inspired them most in their studies they most frequently cite family members.

4. We could ask students to write our self evaluation and improvement plan. Another homework option was to write to the principal with a suggestion for improving the school. Of course, several told us to ditch the uniform or serve chips every day, but overall we got a pretty good basis for a SIP! The student group who saw inspectors in our recent Ofsted also gave an assessment which matched our own evaluation.

Overall, I think these points emphasise the need for me to keep my expectations high because our students are pretty canny as a group and will rise to a challenge.

*June Update: It wasn’t only me who was impressed. Clinton was runner up for the art prize and Shahnoor’s poem won the writing prize!