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Quotations provide a rich source of information for teaching history and ideas that underlie national and world politics. Here are some quotations on these topics from Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi and Golda Mier for stimulating classroom discussions. In addition, Mark Twain provides humorous insights on various topics and Albert Einstein offers educational insights.

Honors Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln by Douglas L. Wilson (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998).

Quotations from: Bite Size Lincoln: Wit and Wisdom from the Frontier President Compiled by John P. Holms and Karin Baji (Thomas Dunne Books, 1998)

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. From Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.

Let us hope . . . that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us, and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.

The man who stands by and says nothing when the peril of his government is discussed, cannot be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy; much more if he talks ambiguously - talks for his country with "ifs" and "ands" and "buts."

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.

I remember how, when a mere child, I used to get irritated when anybody talked to me in a way I could not understand. . . . I can remember going to my little bedroom, after hearing the neighbors talk of an evening with my father, and spending the night walking up and down, and trying to make out what was the exact meaning of some of their, to me, dark sayings. I could not sleep. . . when I got on such a hunt after an idea, until I had caught it; and when I thought I had got it, I was not satisfied. . . until I had put it in language plain enough, as I thought, for any boy I knew to comprehend. This was a passion with me, and it has stuck by me.


Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World by Margaret Thatcher (Perennial, 2003).

Quotations from: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women by Rosalie Maggio, Editor (Beacon Press, 1996). Selected quotations by Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, 1979-90.

The wisdom of hindsight, so useful to historians and indeed to authors of memoirs, is sadly denied to practicing politicians.

I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.

We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.

I do not know anyone who has got to the top without hard work. That is the recipe. It will not always get you to the top, but it should get you pretty near.


Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi by Katherine Frank (Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002).

Quotations from: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women by Rosalie Maggio, Editor (Beacon Press, 1996). Selected quotations by Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, 1966-77 and 1980-84.

It is legitimate to have one's own point of view and political philosophy. But there are people who make anger, rather than a deeply held belief, the basis of their actions. They do not seem to mind harming society as a whole in the pursuit of their immediate objective. No society can survive if it yields to the demands of frenzy, whether of the few or the many.

The immediate is often the enemy of the ultimate.

You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.


My Life by Golda Mier (Putnam, 1975).

Quotations from: The New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women by Rosalie Maggio, Editor (Beacon Press, 1996). Selected quotations by Golda Mier, Prime Minister of Israel, 1969-74.

To be or not to be is not a question of compromise. Either you be or don't be.

Israel itself is the strongest guarantee against another Holocaust.

Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself.

A leader who doesn't hesitate before he sends his nation into battle is not fit to be a leader.

When peace comes we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons, but it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.


The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan (Doubleday, 2003).

Quotations from: Bite-Size Twain: Wit and Wisdom from the Literary Legend Compiled by John P. Holms and Karin Baji (Thomas Dunne Books, 1998).

I have always been able to gain my living without doing any work; for the writing of books and magazine matter was always play; not work. I enjoyed it; it was merely billiards to me.

It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be

twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.


Albert Einstein: A Biography by Albrecht Folsing (Penguin USA, 1998).

Quotations from: The Expanded Quotable Einstein Collected and Edited by Alice Calaprice (Princeton University Press, 1972).

Most teachers waste their time by asking questions that are intended to discover what a pupil does not know, whereas the true art of questioning is to discover what the pupil does know or is capable of knowing.

The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life achievement.


Tribute to a Gifted Woman: Carolyn G. Heilbrun aka Amanda Cross, 1926-2003 by Michael E. Walters

Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

"Charlotte Brontė after writing to her publisher that she was 'neither man nor woman,' went on to say, 'I come before you as an author only. It is the sole standard by which you have to judge me - the sole ground on which I accept your judgment.' " (from Writing A Woman's Life by Carolyn G. Heilbrun, 1988, p. 111).

Carolyn G. Heilbrun died recently and now it is important for educators of the gifted and students to examine both her life and works. She was a distinguished professor of English, humanities and women's studies at Columbia University. Her expertise was modern British authors. Among her books were The Garnett Family (1961) and Christopher Isherwood (1970). The Garnetts were British literary critics. A daughter-in-law, Constance Garnett, was one of the original translators of Dostoevsky into English. Mr. Isherwood wrote the The Berlin Stories (1946), a work about the Weimar Republic which preceded Nazi Germany. As a scholar of humanities, Heilbrun was interested in popular culture, e.g., mystery writers and the cinema. Her book, Writing a Woman's Life (1988), is a seminal analysis of the need for women to create their own narratives as perceived from their desires and needs.

Amanda Cross, Heilbrun's pseudonym, wrote a series of mystery novels whose protagonist (Kate Fansler) was a professor like herself. In these novels she examines the political and cultural aspects of modern society. She not only writes compelling mysteries, but does it with charming wit and a constant array of erudite literary insights. Her 1967 novel, The James Joyce Murder, is about a murder in the Berkshires involving James Joyce's letters. She uses chapter headings and characters borrowed from Joyce's The Dubliners (1914). In a 1971 novel, The Theban Mysteries, the main character returns to a female prep school to teach a seminar on Antigone. The student and anti-war movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s were examined in this book. She mentions how the phrase "the silent majority," a famous term of 1960s, was originally used by Homer to refer to dead soldiers from the Trojan War (p. 29).

Besides Ms. Heilbrun's feminist perspectives, it is important to observe the role of sensibility in her life. Sensibility is a common denominator of all gifted individuals. She was an avid reader of the Nancy Drew books as a child. In her teens she read Virginia Woolf's and Willa Cather's novels. Also, as a teenager, she read the mystery novels of Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. The British mystery writer Dorothy Sayers was her intellectual guide. Ms. Heilbrun would be an excellent model for gifted girls and an inspiration for their academic development.

Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, December 2003-January 2004