Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Quote of the Day: “Teaching is the highest form of understanding”

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Teaching is the highest form of understanding

I originally found this quote being espoused by an insurance company, who markets to California Teacher Association members, in which they attributed it to Aristotle.  But, I have found little evidence to suggest that he said it.  In fact, the earliest attribution to Aristotle that I can find is from 1989, and one would expect this to be something that would have been translated far earlier.  Although, when it comes to potential quotes from those who did not say them in English, it is always more difficult to track them down, as the translation may have changed.   But the fact that none of the citations of this supposed quote come from a translated book of Aristotle’s is also highly suspect.

What I am more saddened about, is the fact that this likely apocryphal quote was used in at least two works that should have known better: Boyer’s seminal essay on “Scholarship Reconsidered” and also in the book A Professor’s Duties: Ethical Issues in College Teaching.  I think this goes to show that educators need to be as careful as the rest of humanity into not fooling ourselves that we are not biased in wanting to believe something because it agrees with our beliefs.  Although, to be fair, in late ’80s and early ’90s, we did not have Google Books to quickly track down a quote, so if those authors got it from a source they considered reputable, possibly from the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Southern University Conference, then they may not have had a reason to believe it wasn’t an actual quote (although there were several respected quotation dictionaries at that time that didn’t have the supposed quote in it.)

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Written by Jacob Walker

October 22nd, 2013 at 7:03 am

Posted in Quotes from Others

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  1. […] As a side note, I found this quote on EDJOIN, and it is one of the rare quotations from an educational organization that I have found to be accurately sourced!  (See my previous blog entries about the quote in my daughter’s classroom and the quote from an organization supported by the California Teacher’s Association.) […]

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