Category Archives: Quotes on Teaching

Quote on Learning and Teaching (#4): The power of knowing rules

Here is another quote on learning and, certainly, to some extent, on teaching.

The following words are commonly attributed to Pablo Picasso:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”

How does this refer to learning languages? Directly!

Picasso’s words are probably the best summary of what I continuously say to my students: learn the rules first, don’t assume that people will understand you anyway, and once you’ve mastered the rules, you will feel confident in using and understanding the language. Because if you don’t know the rules you don’t know how the meaning of an utterance changes if you deviate from the standard way of saying it.

Without knowing the rules you won’t appreciate the play on words and on meaning; you won’t be able to play with the language yourself and won’t feel the joy and excitement of expressing yourself in all the subtlety in thought and meaning. Not knowing the rules of the language only leads to restraint, confusion and awkwardness.

So freedom comes only after you have laid a solid foundation of the well learnt rules.

In other words, if you know the rules you know how to break them and you clearly understand the consequences.

And here is a confirmation of this approach to learning from another renowned artist of the 20th century, Salvador Dali, who once said referring to numerous cubist experimentalists of his time:

“Begin by learning to draw and paint like the old masters. After that, you can do as you like; everyone will respect you.”

I believe the two revolutionary artists – Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali – knew so well the freedom and power the knowledge of the rules can give! You are only free when you know what you are doing.

I personally fully abide by this approach.

How about you?

#learning #quotesonlearning #learninglanguages #quote #pablopicasso #salvadordali #elt #learningstrategies #learnerautonomy


Quote on Learning and Teaching (#3)

Here I continue sharing quotes on teaching which I come across in various sources.

Naturally, your opinion on these quotes is very much welcome!

* John Henrik Clarke (1915-1998) was an American historian and professor.

#teaching #quotesonteaching #learning #elt

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Posted by on September 17, 2018 in ELT Reflections, General, Quotes on Teaching


Quotes on Teaching

Here is a quote from Tim Murphey on learner autonomy and self-instruction:

“I believe most young people are responsible only when they are given the freedom to develop responsibility” (Tim Murphey, 1990, Teaching One to One, Longman)

This quote immediately struck home as I read it. Haven’t we ever told our students or haven’t our parents and teachers ever told us at some point of educational or upbringing process that now it’s time to be responsible for your own studying, decisions and life while they have rarely or ever given us the chance of self-expression, independent work, decision-making and problem-solving or taught us how to do it? Sometimes it very easy to overlook the moment, when trying to do our best, we become too overbearing raising kids and teaching students. So there is no point in expecting your kinds or students to become independent learners and personalities if you haven’t taught them to be so. That’s why we need to incorporate self-instruction, self-study and creativity enhancing activities into our teaching and upbrining.

After stating his belief on students’ responsibility in learning, Tim Murphey goes on to expand his idea:

“Practice in making their own pedagogical decisions is necessary if we ultimately want them to become efficient learners, independent of merely required learning. When students realise that finally they are in control of what and how they learn, they become many times over more powerful in teaching themselves than the schools with which they begin. Then when they do choose to study in a school, with a 1/1 teacher, with a computer or library, or simply by themselves, it is because they have found it to be the best configuration for them to learn in at the time, not simply because there is only one choice available.” (Murphey, 1990)

Slowly but steadily we need to guide our children and learners towards becoming more indepentent in making their decisions concerning their study, work, friendships or life. However, we should always remember that there will always be learners who will readily embrace the opportunities we provide them with and there will always be those who would be reluctant to take responsibility. So, as Tim Murphey recommends, we “should be prepared to lead as much as necessary, but it is worth periodically seeing if they [learners] can take on more and more responsibility.” (Murpehy, 1990)



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Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Quotes on Teaching


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Quotes in teaching and about teaching

I just thought it would be great to start collecting quotes on teaching.

Why would I, though?

Aren’t people sick and tired with tons of quotes on Social Media? Frankly speaking, I’m one of such a weary person. I now skip the quotes whenever they pop up in my news feed.

Though it wasn’t the same until recently. In fact, reading quotes was once my main material for reading. First of all, because I didn’t have longer time for more thoughtful reading. And second of all, I found them really informative and educational: These witty bits of wisdom would cast beams of light onto new sides of life or would let me look at my experience from a new perspective, sometimes bringing irony and grains of sarcasm into the way I treated my own existence. It was a fun and unintrusive way of analyzing my life, so to say, on the go.

The attractiveness of quotes lies in the their uncanny accuracy in capturing the quintessence of things. But sometimes, it’s their arousing controversy that makes you pause and re-condiser your own ideas and believes. That’s why quotes are good conversation starters and are widely used in teaching, especially in language teaching.

All these considerations and also the fact that I sometimes read books on teaching, I thought it would be a good idea to collect some gems of wisdom about teaching as I come across them.

So here I go with the first quote:

Let praise be a feeling, not a judgement. (Tim Murthey, Teaching One-to-One, 1988)

I loved this idea! In fact, it can be applied not only to the teaching context but to a broader number of life situations. And how good it would be to constantly remind yourself to be more genuine and sincere in expressing your emotions!

I’ll be posting other quotes as separate blog posts but they all will be easily accessible under “Quotes on Teaching” category.

Is there a quote on teaching that you particularly like?

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Posted by on November 29, 2016 in General, Quotes on Teaching


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