Teaching Tip: Don’t quote me but….

Quotations can be a fun way to spice up your classes from time to time.  For example, you can use a quote of the day to  introduce the class to a new concept,  inject some humour, provoke a discussion, or create closure by asking “how does this quote relate to what we did today?”  Here are just a few general possibilities to get you started.

Want your students to reflect on values around learning?  Try these:

Learning is not a spectator sport.  – D. Blocher

Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. – Winston Churchill

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. – John Powell

If you want your students to reflect on the value of critical thinking and multiple perspectives , try these quotes:

There are truths on this side of the Pyrenees, which are falsehoods on the other.  ~Blaise Pascal

People who look through keyholes are apt to get the idea that most things are keyhole shaped.  ~Author Unknown

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall.

~Mexican Proverb

How might you use these in your class?  Perhaps you ask  students brainstorm other proverbs/quotes that relate to the same concept, which may reveal interesting cultural variations. Or students could free write for 2 minutes about how this quote relates to the course/concept/skill of the class. (e.g. how  might this relate to being a scientist, artist, business person…etc.)  Students could share their ideas in small groups or hand them to the instructor who chooses a few to share . Or you could lead a class discussion.  You could even ask students to write a new quote, or revise the quote.

Specific quotes about your course content can also be fun and useful.  A couple of my psychology favorites:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics – Disraeli (or Mark Twain)

The aim of psychoanalysis is to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy.  ~Sigmund Freud, attributed

What are your favorite quotes for class use?

Other sources for quotes: www.quotegarden.com and http://thinkexist.com/quotations/mathematics/

Thanks to Emma Bourassa, Thompson Rivers University for the ideas in this tip.


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