The grammarian is often one who can neither cry nor laugh, yet thinks that he can express human emotions. So the posture-masters tell you how you shall walk — turning your toes out, perhaps, excessively — but so the beautiful walkers are not made.—Journal, 2 January 1859
The audience are never tired of hearing how far the wind carried some man, woman, or child, or family Bible, but they are immediately tired if you undertake to give them a scientific account of it.—Journal, 4 February 1852
Can there be any greater reproach than an idle learning? Learn to split wood, at least.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month, — the boy who had made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this, — or the boy who had attended the lectures on metallurgy at the Institute in the mean while, and had received a Rodgers’ penknife from his father?—Walden
I served my apprenticeship and have since done considerable journeywork in the huckleberry field. Though I never paid for my schooling and clothing in that way, it was some of the best schooling that I got and paid for itself.—"Huckleberries"
Knowledge can be acquired only by a corresponding experience. How can we know what we are told merely? Each man can interpret another’s experience only by his own.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
The universe is wider than our views of it.—Walden
The poet says the proper study of mankind is man. I say study to forget all that — take wider views of the universe.—Journal, 2 April 1852
Those things for which the most money is demanded are never the things which the student most wants. Tuition, for instance, is an important item in the term bill, while for the far more valuable education which he gets by associating with the most cultivated of his contemporaries no charge is made.
What does education do? It makes a straight-cut ditch out of a free, meandering brook.—Journal, 1850