C. S. LewisC. S. Lewis, (1898-1963), British novelist

C. S. Lewis Quote

“What I want to fix your attention on is the vast overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence -- moral, cultural, social or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how 'democracy' (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient dictatorships, and by the same methods? The basic proposal of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be 'undemocratic.' Children who are fit to proceed may be artifically kept back, because the others would get a trauma by being left behind. The bright pupil thus remains democratically fettered to his own age group throughout his school career, and a boy who would be capable of tackling Aeschylus or Dante sits listening to his coeval's attempts to spell out A CAT SAT ON A MAT. We may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when 'I'm as good as you' has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented; who are they to overtop their fellows? And anyway, the teachers -- or should I say nurses? -- will be far too busy reassuring the dunces and patting them on the back to waste any time on real teaching. We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men.”

C. S. LewisC. S. Lewis
~ C. S. Lewis

Ratings and Comments

Logan, Memphis, TN

Wonderfully stated.

Robert, Sarasota

I disagree; those who wish to learn will always find a way otherwise they deserve to be with the dunce.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

Schools teach so much more than just "book learning", it is good to teach all the inherent worth and value of every other living being. Those who can excel scholastically either will or will not, not based upon their opportunity, but upon their own internal drive.

D.L., Bozeman, MT

As wonderful as C.S. Lewis was, he's way off the mark here. The 50's, 60's, and 70's educated the baby boomers post-WWII. Today we have the radical religious right who insist that their children not be taught "critical thinking skills" for fear they might learn reality-based history and education. This is why education has devolved into what it is today.

E Archer, NYC

Unfortunately, C. S. Lewis saw it correctly. Education in America has been specifically designed to create obedient drones, not to foster knowledge and truth. It is to create workers at a specific pace so as not to threathen the others on the higher rungs of the ladder. Excellence is not encouraged. I would agree that the truly excellent will carry on despite crappy education -- and more often than not it is due to parents who take more than a casual interest in their children's learning.

E Archer, NYC

D.L., Most boomers do not know squat about the real world. They have been the unwitting cash cow that has helped to turn America into a police state, indentured to an unpayable debt, and indoctrinated fully into the illusion that Democrats and Republicans are different -- they are not. Neither party lives up to its ideal -- and the left are as quick to vilify the right as much as the right despise the left. All the while the puppeteer pulls their strings. If it hadn't been for the intense socialist indoctrination of the baby boomers, America could have been the beacon of Freedom it ought to be. And it ain't over yet -- once these folks start dying off in large numbers, the vultures will be out in full force gathering what little has been saved over a lifetime of servitude to the government -- and yet they love it so much. Due to the ignorance of the boomers, their collective power is easily wielded to rivet the chains on their fellows. The boomers are a perfect example of Lewis' statement -- they do not even know they are serfs on someone else's land.

Joe, Rochester, MI

[sarcastically] We wouldn't want any child who doesn't study and is therefore stupid to "feel" bad. Heaven forbid we teach our children responsibility or critical thinking, to guide their lives.

Elena, Philipsburg Montana

The only ones who rate this quote less than 5 are either educrats , related to one , friends of one or put "free" baby sitting service before the well being and true academic education of their own children. They'd rather ignore the fact that their children are systematically being modified(brainwashed) to be obedient automatons to the state.

W H, Atlanta


Jimmy, Stevensville, MT

Schools, especially at the elementary level, inculcate (or fail to) the love of learning that blossoms into scholarship. To imagine that those who can excel scholastically "either will or will not... based on their own internal drive" is worse than stupid. A thoroughbred loses his will to run after being beaten down every day of his youth. And that is Lewis' point - it is the very aim of the educrats to grind out the spark that may ignite the love of excellence, all in the name of the lowest common denominator of the aforementioned "inherent worth and value of every other living being". Why is it so important that our children reject the extraordinary in favor of the mundane?

sally, atlanta

Hit the nail on the head. I'm an educator and I agree with this quote. This is exactly what is happening in public education.

warren, olathe

D.L., Bozeman, MT You need an education. The religious right is opposed to the left's control of education because of the lack of critical thinking in our schools today. Back then (when I was in school) there was only a glimmer of what was to come. Lewis was so dead on with his predictions for education.

Brandon, Knoxville, TN

Absolutely right. To Anonymous-from-Virginia, Do you truly believe that by passing poor students when they should be withheld or holding good students when they should not is the correct way to teach the value of human worth? I also take it from your statement that schools and books are of no or little value, it's purely the action of the student that stimulate learning. While the latter is significant and largely true, why must the prior also be true? It should not.

jim k, Austin,Tx

Self Esteem is the big thing nowadays. After all, we wouldn't want to hurt one of the little darlin's feelings, even if he can't spell his own name. C.S. hit the nail on the head and perfectly describes todays public schools.

J Carlton, Calgary

Spot On! baseball games where they don't keep score? Ridiculous! A child with an active mind who is bored with the curriculum...so drug him, Criminal! Teaching kids that the state is the ultimate authority...not their parents, not God...is an attack on the family unit. Time to start over folks, the system is completely rotten.

Waffler, Smith

Okay it is a pretty good quote! But hell let us leave the kids alone and let them go have some fun. Isn't that what childhood is for, to have some fun. Life goes on so let us all get one.

F.L. Burke
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F.L. Burke    4/8/11

C S Lewis was correct. And I might add that the schools are grinding out little A moral socialists who are incapable of independent thought. Reason has been stifled in our schools.

Krista, Palm Springs

In 1953 a 6 year hard fought battle had been won.....control of the Ford foundation (somewhere in the 100's of billions) was won by the elite controlling our world. It all went to destroy our education system. Read "How the World Really Works", by Alan B Jones.....a real eye opener for those who wish to find the truth! (as in facts!..... not fiction as we are being taught) As for CS, the only thing that scares me more than the uneducated (and even the genius' are UNEDUCATED/idiots to how this world really works, and who is really in charge) are the GOOD CHRISTIANS who have hijacked the Republican party and turned them into the DUNCES that dear CS seems to think should be left behind in our PUBLIC schools......I am sick and tired of those DEEMED as dunces being left behind, when NEPOTISM is alive and well and running this world, and here in America!! (I submit Bush Jr to win my argument!) Most of these SO CALLED smarty pants would be wearing a dunce hat and begging for food stamps if it we not for who's hoohoo they popped out of! If they had to rely on their own fortitude (like the rest of us no names) they would be left behind (maybe it was these blue bloods Bush Jr was talking about when he said "no child left behind"? We must educate ourselves........like someone above in the comments said......NO ONE is responsible for ME!!!! I am responsible for NO ONE else. (although I am compelled to help others whenever I can) If you need a "nanny" (state) then YOU are THE PROBLEM! Grow the fuc! up! Educate yourself to the truth (even when it ain't pretty, cuz it AIN'T), remove yourself from Consumer-ISM, and live FREE and UNTAMED!!! The power lies in the TRUTH! I am neither a demo or a rebub....they are ONE IN THE SAME at this point and stand for NOTHING, but personal pocket padding, and a New World Order.....by the way, it is not a conspiracy....it is an agenda, and it has been being implemented for over 100 years, actually more like 200. ps, it's not Jewish, either! Get educated about the persons (there are only a few) who are ENSLAVING your children!!!! They are few, and we the people are many.......that is why they fear the masses.......we hold ALL the real power!!! 99 to 1, says the 99 will always prevail! Their days are numbered, and We The People, will own our world very soon and once and for all! Woo~Hoo to that!

Krista, Palm Springs

PS.....In God We Trust, was added to the pledge of allegiance in 1953 or 56.......and with it came the demise of "separation of church and state". I love it when the bible thumpers make a big stink about it, NOT having any idea of the facts! God is a personal issue, not a governmental issue, and a big reason our founding fathers fled England! xoxo

warren, olathe

I cant believe some of the idiots comments.

dick, fort worth

I want to thank Reston for his recognition of C.S. Lewis' shallow,demagogic approach to problems so familiar to the ultra religious and for emphasizing the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

Waffler, Smith

Krista you are soooo right on about the "In God We Trust" thing except it was not that but "One Nation Under God" that was added to the pledge. I agree with you that it was a purely political manipulation of the right wing when Eisenhower was sitting on the throne. The phrase should not be in our pledge and having it there and making otherwise fine maybe non-believing Americans say it or swallow hare is indefensible,

Rusty, Where the buffalo roam, USA

I was fortunate enough to have gone through the US education system when a person could still be 'flunked' for not achieving certain educational standards. Of course, that was 'back in the day' when teachers were an integral part of the learning process, held accountable for their ability, (or lack of it) and were not simply babysitters with tenure. I am grateful for having learned 'the three R's', and not receiving a bogus education consisting of courses designed to be relevant to the PC crowd, or tailored to promote my self-esteem by being so simple that even a caveman could do it.

Sammi, Kennewick

As a high school teacher who is continually fettered to the "norms" of students' lack of education, I find Lewis to be dead on. Every day I am faced with students who were passed from one class to the next in middle school so they could stay with their chronological/age peers rather than their intellectual peers. Students who have not passed ONE class in their ENTIRE middle school experience (F's across the entire spectrum) are then dumped into high school where it is all about high stakes testing, merit based performance evaluations (for the teachers not the students) and the students are slapped in the face with the bitter reality that seat time means nothing at all unless they learn while they are in that seat. While they are given 170 hours +/- in a calendar year to not only make up the deficiencies but also cram in all the new ideas and skills for their particular class or curriculum, teachers are not allowed to hold the line of excellence or to hold parents and students accountable.

J.B., Roby
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J.B., Roby    3/10/16

I went to school in the 50's and 60's. It was a constant struggle to be "me" and not one of "them". To conform was the ultimate goal. Few teachers(a far higher percentage than now)were willing to let me go my own way.

I was a voracious reader with a photographic memory. I often was pushed by ignorant teachers to accept something they said that was simply incorrect. When I'd show them in books where they were wrong it was not to my benefit.

The Marxist type of teaching wasn't nearly to the point of where we find it now. I hear children quoting teachers and see their work now that simply makes my head reel. They graduate and rely on cash registers to compute the answer for them in making change. No doubt pictures of products sold are much preferable to having them be able to identify such.

And still, younger people even in the 50's can't understand that a scanner isn't always correct. They don't even think about freedom and being their own person for the main part. Those who do suffer in the work place more than the purely incompetent.

empty pockets, NO, La

C. S. Lewis...another conservative stalwart whose loss we are feeling now.

Progressives infiltrated our education system beginning with universities where teachers, journalists and even "leaders" are trained. They've now infested all levels. Their goal has always been collectivism, rigid uniformity of thought, actions and beliefs, all in line with their secular collectivist vision/delusion.

Progressives do not want critical thinking taught. It is common sense in motion and common sense is the antithesis of progressive collectivism. Better to use those indoctrinated teachers to teach kids WHAT to think...not HOW to think. The indoctrinated journalists are now administering the Ministry of Propaganda.

E Archer, NYC

This is one of the reasons we chose to homeschool our children. Today, as college students, they are much more mature than their peers, very conservative with spending money, very responsible for themselves, very compassionate and helpful -- they come from a place of wholeness and independence, and are even a bit too eager (in my opinion) to serve their fellow man rather than their own personal interests (they are still young). People tell us that we have done a great job with raising our children, but I say the children deserve most of the credit. There is a difference between 'teaching' and 'facilitating' -- children aren't 'taught' anything, they 'learn' or they don't. Getting an education is not a ride one goes on like a passenger on a bus. Education is being put in the driver's seat of all kinds of vehicles with all the manuals, maps, and books written about the roads and the cities along the way. This is what other people have 'learned' about the world -- we still have to discern and evaluate for ourselves. Self-determination with honor, integrity and COURAGE is the modus operandi of the world traveler. We are in a perpetual state of discovery -- it doesn't really end...

Robert, Somewhere in Europe

This quote would be a lot more meaningful if he hadn't come from a wealthy family, educated privately and went onto Oxford. I love his stories but this quote he is in no position to remark...

Eileen, Dover NH

Ooh, ooh, ooh, how unpolitically correct of you Mr. Lewis!!!

The Nuns who taught me in the 40"s treated us all as learners no matter our background or color and none of us went to exclusive English schools.

Brett Stevens, Antares, TX

Lewis nails the "democratization" of education: holding all back to the level of the lowest. This is the nature of "equality," which always holds back the strong to protect the weak.

My generation suffered through at the hands of the Baby Boomers, but it was nothing compared to the "participation trophy" generation, Millennials, who are now as reality-hostile as Boomers were, while Generation X was a realist reaction.

Ronw13, USA

In America, a New Predator rises, like no other, the fire of assuming arrogance and contempt for the individual with a higher degree of learning capability. The simple/ignorant, lacking " Street Smarts " among themselves receive the greatest abuse. When seeing the act of social experimentation in the deep south, Those learned, level headed, individuals immediately sought out Private schools or " Out of State " if needed, to avoid the down fall of their own child's opportunity of a higher degree of learning. MAKE NO MISTAKE, this Predator is very dangerous to a sane and safe life, once enjoyed, post WW II. Honor and integrity are lost in this sea of socialistic ignorance. One can see, which is made very obvious, at the polls. Wealth has nothing to do with inherit skills of a proper smarter child. Hold no Child back, has become, leave no child behind. Sick in the result of accomplishment our nation is. Experience is, ones guide to honing skills inherit and taught. Quality not quantity is key to the survival of Sound Knowledge. Loosing the " few of quality " can set one or a nation, back for ages. " Knowledge shall cease " KJB scary times are upon us. The pinch point, knowing well its coming, has been abused at the highest levels of society.

BR King, Ogden, UT

This is where we are now in public education.


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