May Quotes

‘There is a special sense in which it may be fair to say that the child scientist is a less efficient thinker than the adult scientist. He is not as good at cutting out unnecessary and useless information, at simplifying the problem, at figuring out how to ask questions whose answers will give him the most information. Thus, a trained adult thinker, seeing a cello for the first time, would probably do in a few seconds what it takes a child much longer to do – bow each of the strings to see what sounds they give, and then see what effect holding down a string with the left hand has on the sound made by that string…. Where the young child, at least until his thinking has been spoiled by adults, has a great advantage is in situations – and many, even most real life situations are like this – where there is so much seemingly senseless data that it is impossible to tell what questions to ask. He is much better at taking in this kind of data; he is better able to tolerate its confusion; and he is much better at picking out the patterns, hearing the faint signal amid all the noise. Above all, he is much less likely than adults to make hard and fast conclusions on the basis of too little data, or, having made such conclusions, to refuse to consider any new data that does not support them… But the greatest difference between children and adults is that most of the children to whom I offer a turn on the cello accept it, while most adults, particularly if they have never played any other instrument, refuse it.’

How Children Learn, John Holt


‘But you see, most of us are concerned with revolt within the prison; we want better food, a little more light, a larger window so that we can see a little more of the sky… so we remain prisoners, and there is no freedom in prison. Freedom lies outside the walls, outside the pattern of society; but to be free of that pattern you have to understand the whole content of it, which is to understand your own mind. It is the mind that has created the present civilisation, this tradition-bound culture of society and, without understanding your own mind, merely to revolt as a communist, a socialist, this or that, has very little meaning. That is why it is very important to have self-knowledge, to be aware of all your activities, your thoughts and feelings.’

Jiddu Krishnamurti


‘…the “professional attitude” – confident and assertive individuals who exude the feeling that they are very much at home playing by the rules and that there is no pressing need to question the social structure in which they do their work.’

Jeff Schmidt


‘The law is an adroit mixture of customs that are beneficial to society, and could be followed even if no law existed, and others that are of advantage to a ruling minority, but harmful to the masses of men, and can be enforced on them only by terror.’

Peter Kropotkin


‘The Darwin doctrine explained the dominance of the new bourgeoisie, people without taste, imagination, intellect, moral scruples, general culture or even the elementary bowels of compassion, who rose to the surface precisely because they fitted an environment that had no place and no use for any of these human attributes. Only anti-social qualities had survival value. Only people who valued machines more than men were capable under these conditions of governing men to their own profit and advantage.’

Lewis Mumford


‘The Age of Professions will be remembered as the time when politics withered, when voters guided by professors entrusted to technocrats the power to legislate needs, the authority to decide who needs what and a monopoly over the means by which these needs shall be met. It will be remembered as the Age of Schooling, when people for one-third of their lives were trained how to accumulate needs on prescription and for the other two-thirds were clients of prestigious pushers who managed their habits. It will be remembered as the age when recreational travel meant a packaged gawk at strangers, and intimacy meant training by Masters and Johnson; when formed opinion was a replay of last night’s talk-show, and voting an endorsement to a salesman for more of the same.’

The Right to Useful Unemployment, by Ivan Illich