Editor’s note: This is an updated version of our original article with a few new inspiring teaching quotes included.
Teachers regularly inspire their students, whether they are aware of it or not. But all of us—even those in education—struggle under the weight of doubt and anxiety sometimes. We’re human, after all. We’ve chosen to share these inspiring teaching quotes with all you teachers out there because there are two things you need to know. First, we believe in you, and second, you are not alone.
Enjoy these inspiring teaching quotes and the messages they carry for you—the teachers of the world—along with them.
Lebanese artist and writer Kahlil Gibran’s best-known book is The Prophet. This quote is from the central character Almustafa’s musings on parenthood, but it applies just as well to the role of a teacher.
The message: As a teacher, you’re the most important part of a young student’s life. Your love of learning can be infectious and inspiring to any student you teach. Remember how you nurture the courage in a pupil’s heart. You are a tutor, an enabler, and a caregiver combined, and you can—and will—make a difference.
American Poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost often examined complex social and philosophical themes in his work, but also the themes of rural life and culture that were close to his heart. His work truly awakened the hearts of many, so this seems like a good one to include here.
The message: Any teacher can awaken a student’s belief in themselves. Frost encourages the idea of inspiring curiosity and sparking the desire for knowing in students. As a teacher, you are the best guide for your students in the move towards this kind of illumination. Get students curious about discovering knowledge for themselves, and focus on their interests and inherent skills and natural talents.
16-year-old Pakistani student Malala Yousafazi was an advocate for students’ rights in her hometown of Swat during a very dangerous time of war and political upheaval. Malala won the Nobel peace Prize in 2014. She now lives in the United Kingdom where she still attends school.
The message: If there’s anyone who is in a position to bring positive change into the world every day, it’s a teacher. Don’t ever think that your efforts as a teacher are insignificant and make no difference. There is no telling what positive effect you will have on someone’s life, especially a student’s. Be brave, stay passionate about your kids and your work, and don’t give up—ever.
“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Albert Einstein once claimed that if he was presented with a problem and given one hour to solve it, he’d spend 5 minutes on the solution and the other 55 minutes defining the problem. He was born to be a teacher and lived his life and work with a healthy mix of compassion and curiosity. This is one of his lesser-known quotes, but it fits the bill for sharing in this post.
The message: The best environments we can provide for our students are the ones that lead them to take responsibility for their learning. What a difference it makes in a student’s mind knowing that they’ve discovered the answer for themselves, or been able to create it if it wasn’t there.
Japanese wisdom never fails. Such a timeless culture that has mastered so much of the concept of self-awareness knows a thing or two about teaching and learning. This proverb is one of my favourites and speaks to many of my own personal experiences in education.
The message: Studying is an important part of gaining an education, but reviewing and internalizing facts and data will only get a student so far. What they really crave are those moments where they truly connect with their teacher and learn a lesson that no textbook or website could ever provide. These are the priceless lessons of real life, from someone who has had those experiences and made the mistakes, and grown as a human being because of them. That’s you, and those experiences are like gold to any student. Make them happen as much as you possibly can.
Alfred Mercier was a doctor and writer and was part of a group responsible for promoting an awareness of French literature in Louisiana during the late 1800s. This quote is one of his more well-known musings on the value of inspired learning.
The message: Learning can be enjoyable in every way for both teacher and student, and it should be. When our students are engaged and invested in their learning and are truly having fun, that’s a big part of how learning “sticks.” Teachers are in a perfect position to make the learning environments and experiences they provide for their students highly enjoyable and deeply memorable.
One of the most soulful and influential blues guitarists in history is B.B. King. This is what the legendary “King of Blues” himself had to say about the gift of learning.
The message: At the end of the day, learning is a deeply personal experience. When something is learned, understood, and finally becomes transparent to the learner, it is a very special kind of individual accomplishment that changes that person forever. The mind becomes refreshed and more open, new neural connections are formed, and curiosity expands. The more we learn, the more we want to learn.
Both learning and the thirst for it are the eternal gifts teachers give to each one of their students. These gifts are possessions a student never loses, and which benefit them for life.
We all knew him as the lovable host of Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood, but few know just how much the late Fred Rogers did to push television networks to become better nurturers of our youth. As a teacher himself, he cared about the education and well-being of children across the globe immensely.
Check out this YouTube video and watch Mr. Rogers calmly turn a condescending hard-nosed US senator into a kid all over again.
The message: Teaching is by far one of the more noble and influential professions on the planet. Teachers help their students every day to become better learners, better citizens, and in doing so become better teachers. Make no mistake—you’re a hero to many children. Let that be one of the many reasons you continue to nurture the architects of the future.
“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.”
John Lubbock, the Lord Avebury, had his hands in pretty much everything. He was a banker, politician, philanthropist, and scientist. Lubbock was regarded as a polymath, or an expert in many subjects and disciplines. That alone gives him a close kinship to the practice of being an educator. Teachers are also called upon to demonstrate prowess in many diverse subject areas, so Lubbock’s wisdom fits nicely here.
The message: What Lubbock tells us here doesn’t suggest that children should not be taught. It comes down to what they’re taught and how. This bit of advice reminds us that developing the passion for lifelong learning within students is the key to their success.
Joseph Joubert was an essayist who wrote many musings about the nature of human existence and other profound subjects. All of his insights were eventually published into a posthumous masterwork known as Pensées (Thoughts).
The message: Let this be your mantra now and for the days to come—never stop learning.
Joubert notes in this quote, and observed much in his writing, that teaching moments are golden. This is especially true of the moments when we teach successfully. It’s more than just imparting awareness and knowledge and building the skill to use it. It’s about understanding as a teacher how learning changes people. If a teacher truly observes those wonderful moments and remains present in them, learning will happen for both teacher and student over and over again, forever.