"From my experience of hundreds of children,
I know that they have perhaps
a finer sense of honour than you or I have.
The greatest lessons in life,
if we would but stoop and humble ourselves,
we would learn not from grown-up learned men,
but from the so-called ignorant children."
19 November 1931
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Reader comments about this quote:
This quote should be thrown out. It is sentimental. It is cliché. It is derivative. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who arguably did more to subvert the cause of freedom than any writer before or after, said the same thing, in 1762. It is confused. There is a thing called sense of honour; there is also a thing called infantile delusion of grandeur. Even supposing that Gandhi knew the difference, which I doubt very much, just what are we to learn from either of these? Why should we not, instead, help children to be more "humble", or at least modest and realistic about themselves and to discover how much they still have to learn? Lastly, and most importantly: this aphorism has nothing whatever to do with liberty.
 -- Koen de Groot, Amsterdam     
  • 3
    Emotional claptrap! Observe what goes on in any daycare and treat yourself to what inevitably reveals itself to be the law of the jungle absent of adult referees. Greed, envy and jealousy it's all there in children too, there is no such thing as the angelic child.
     -- Mike, Pleasant Hill     
  • 1
    In context at which the quote references, he is absolutely right. Both Koen and Mike above are correct in the scope of perception at which they have written too. No one can learn quantum mechanics from a child but again, that is not the focus of the statement. Owning and running Montessori Schools placed me in a unique position to learn a lot about 3-year-olds and up. Most children come to this earth with a blank slate and by 1 or 2 years of age, they are parroting who their parents and environment are (angry, loving, distant, intimate, etc.). To the focus of the quote, even with that ingrained/taught behavior, treating the child with love, respect and a genuine nurturing display of instruction brings forth a very willing Divine individual with a finer sense of honor, humility and willingness to love one another than any adult - no matter how the adult(s) is treated or dealt with.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 1
    There's plenty to learn from all members of the family all the time -- and we do. Children are 'innocent' to a degree -- they have less programming than adults, there is less of an 'act' being put on, and it's still immature in its development, easy to detect. But practice makes perfect! ;-) I'm not sure whether honor and humility is built in -- where is that in the animal world? Is a conscience in-born or cultivated? The old 'nature vs. nurture' question. The answer is BOTH. ;-)

    Can children detect the hypocrisy of adults? YES! So, I do watch for that in children -- they are very good BS meters!
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 1
    I think what Ghandi is referring to here in reference to honour is attitude in relation to learning. As adults we should retain humility and acknowledge that we all have much to learn and that this is a life long practice on the path to self realisation. Ghandi's humility and respect for all is predicated on the fact that we all have things to learn from each other - true liberty of mind and spirit Mr De Groot.
     -- Mick, manchester     
    The fact that honor and humility are potentials in the human, does seem to indicate there is an innate place for those potentials to arise -- without a place for them, they could not be. However, I suppose the same argument could be used to bear credence to the 'fall of man' or 'original sin,' too.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Gandhi probably never bothered entering the pandemonium of a low-class public scholl classroom.
    Sorry but no, the most vile human beings I came accross in my life were those rugrats I try to teach everyday, to no success at all. Honour? Sorry, no.
     -- Felipe, São Paulo     
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