46 Back-to-School Quotes to Help Get You Motivated and Inspired

Putting the Spotlight on Education, Teachers, and Learning

Boy prepared for school

PhotoAlto – Antoine Arraou / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Vacations are over, and it's time to head back to school. 'Tis the season of teachers revising lessons and of students stocking up on school supplies and preparing for new classes. You can share some motivational back-to-school quotes with your children to help encourage them to achieve, and you can share them with your favorite educators, too.

Our education-themed list also contains quotes for people going to the school of hard knocks. Plus, we offer a few clever asides and quips from authors and comedians to a former president.

Inspirational Quotes for Students

Help students realize the importance of education with these quotes:

Martin H. Fischer
"All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind."

Ray LeBlond
"You learn something every day if you pay attention."

E.C. McKenzie
"Sign on a high school bulletin board in Dallas: Free every Monday through Friday—knowledge. Bring your own containers."

Ernest Renan
"The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life."

Dana Stewart Scott
"Learn as much as you can while you are young, since life becomes too busy later."

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

Mark Twain
"Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."

Quotes About Teachers and Schools

Need some quotes about educators and schools? Look no further:

Susan B. Anthony
"If all the rich and all of the church people should send their children to the public schools they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals."

T.H. Huxley
"I care not what subject is taught, if only it be taught well."

E.C. McKenzie
"Education helps you earn more. But not many schoolteachers can prove it."
"Schoolteachers are not fully appreciated by parents until it rains all day Saturday."

Donald D. Quinn
"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job."

Lily Tomlin

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."

Inspirational Quotes for Educators

Educators might also enjoy some inspirational quotes geared toward their chosen profession:

Malcolm S. Forbes
"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."

Sydney J. Harris
"The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows."

Margaret Laurence
"Holidays are enticing only for the first week or so. After that, it is no longer such a novelty to rise late and have little to do."

Richard Livingstone
"If the school sends out children with a desire for knowledge and some idea of how to acquire and use it, it will have done its work."

Ralph W. Sockman
"The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder."

Ricky Williams
"I allowed myself to think if I could be doing anything in the world, what would I be doing? And what came to mind is I'd be traveling a little bit, I'd be going to classes, and I'd be going back to school."

Quotes on Life and Learning

Here are some quotable lines about the value of education outside of school, the teacher being "reality."

Anonymous
"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

Tom Bodett
"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."

Winston Churchill
"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."

W. Edwards Deming
"Learning is not compulsory...but to survive, we must learn."

Peter De Vries
"We all learn by experience but some of us have to go to summer school."

Ralph Waldo Emerson
"You send your child to the schoolmaster, but 'tis the schoolboys who educate him."

Martin H. Fischer
"Education aims to give you a boost up the ladder of knowledge. Too often, it just gives you a cramp on one of its rungs."

Ivan Illich
"Together we have come to realize that for men the right to learn is curtailed by the obligation to attend school."

George Bernard Shaw
"What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child."

Ernest Shackleton
"I do not know what 'moss' stands for in the proverb, but if it stood for useful knowledge...I gathered more moss by rolling than I ever did at school."

Oscar Wilde
"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught."

Henny Youngman
"In elementary school, many a true word is spoken in guess."

Silly and Pithy Quotes

According to some well-known names, education has its lighter moments:

Gracie Allen
"Smartness runs in my family. When I went to school I was so smart my teacher was in my class for five years."

Erma Bombeck
"Being a child at home alone in the summer is a high-risk occupation. If you call your mother at work 13 times an hour, she can hurt you."

A. Whitney Brown
"Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait."

George Carlin
"When I got out of high school they retired my jersey, but it was for hygiene and sanitary reasons."

Bill Dodds
"Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day. It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken."

Peter Drucker
"When a subject becomes totally obsolete, we make it a required course."

Finley Peter Dunne
"It doesn't make much difference what you study, so long as you don't like it."

Robert Gallagher
"Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed."

Edgar W. Howe
"If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers."

Elbert Hubbard
"You can lead a boy to college, but you cannot make him think."

Doug Larson
"Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog."

Henry Louis Mencken
"Sunday school: A prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents."

John Updike
"The Founding Fathers...provided jails called schools, equipped with tortures called an education. School is where you go between when your parents can't take you and industry can't take you."

Ronald Reagan
"But there are advantages to being President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified top secret."

Joan Welsh
"The only educational aspect of television is that it puts the repairman’s kids through college."