Mark Twain Education Quotes

mark twain circa 1875

 Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

The genius writer and father of American literature, Mark Twain, was not educated beyond elementary school. His expresses cynicism toward the mediocre education system of this time in his quotes about education. He believed that schooling was different from education and learning. He warns us of the hazards of following the education system with blind faith.

In Praise of Learning and Training

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

"The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man that can not read them."

"There is nothing training cannot do. Nothing is above its reach. It can turn bad morals to good; it can destroy bad principles and recreate good ones; it can lift men to 'angel ship.'"

"Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It's like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won't fatten the dog."

"It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others - and less trouble."

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."

"Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others."

"Learning softeneth the heart and breedeth gentleness and charity."

Criticism of Schooling

"Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned."

"We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter."

"God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."

"Just the omission of Jane Austen's books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn't a book in it."

"I never let my schooling interfere with my education."

"Everything has its limit - iron ore cannot be educated into gold."

"All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal valuable knowledge."

Mark Twain Quips on Specific Subjects

"The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice."

"I don't give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way."

"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

"Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable."

"'Classic.' A book which people praise and don't read."

"I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn't know."

"Why shouldn't truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense."

"We could use up two Eternities in learning all that is to be learned about our own world and the thousands of nations that have arisen and flourished and vanished from it. Mathematics alone would occupy me eight million years."

"Many public-school children seem to know only two dates - 1492 and 4th of July, and as a rule, they don't know what happened on either occasion."

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Khurana, Simran. "Mark Twain Education Quotes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Khurana, Simran. (2020, August 29). Mark Twain Education Quotes. Retrieved from Khurana, Simran. "Mark Twain Education Quotes." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).