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Friday, March 26, 2004

On Writing Well

Clarity, simplicity, brevity and humanity.

These are William Zinsser's four articles of faith from On Writing Well.

Yesterday, between loading the clothes and the spin cycle, and again during the long, hypnotic dry cycle at the laundromat, I managed to read a few more chapters. Apparently, I need to re-read the part on clarity. An email I had written was interpreted with the completely opposite meaning I had intended. The result was comic and earned me a cameo on one of my favorite blogs.


Following are a variety of well written quotes on education and knowledge from classical and other ancient sources I came across when looking for some philosophical statement to dress up our official school letterhead. (I don't know if they all do it or not, or how professional it looks, but my high school included the motto, "Pax et bonum," on its stationery.)

Educated men are as much superior to uneducated men as the living are to the dead.
Education is the best provision for old age.
All men by nature desire knowledge.

There are in fact two things, science and opinion;the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.

Only the educated are free.

There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.
I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.

The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.
Let early education be a sort of amusement; you will then be better able to find out the natural bent.

Publius Syrus:
It is only the ignorant who despise education.

Much learning does not teach understanding.

Whoso neglects learning in his youth,
Loses the past and is dead for the future.

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it -- this is knowledge.


I liked both of Socrates's, but S. thought they were a little too strong, so we agreed on Plato's "...direction in which education starts..."

This is subject to change when I get around to ordering Latin Proverbs: Wisdom from Ancient to Modern Times, in favor of something like Caesar's, "Alea iacta est."


Ignoring the advice on brevity, here's a link justifying chocolate as an educational resource. Right, like you needed a reason.


Anyone have any good recommendations for very specific tips and/or examples on teaching Socratic dialogue?

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