Our Favorite Harry Truman Quotes on Education
Principal and teachers of the Columbian School, Independence, Missouri. Top row, left to right: Tillie C. Adams; William D. Hifner, principal; Donna Loar. Middle row, l-r: Mary V. Moore; Belle Murphy. Bottow row, l-r: Laura Woodruff; Mamie Dunne; Retta Searingen. From: Independence Schools.

Our Favorite Harry Truman Quotes on Education

Our Favorite Harry Truman Quotes on Education

Independence’s Harry S. Truman loved learning. Even before he started school, he knew how to read, and his love for history and biography served him well as President of the United States.

A near-self-professed teacher’s pet, Truman had only good things to say of his teachers.

“I do not remember a bad teacher in all my experiences,” he wrote in his memoirs. “They were all different, of course, but they were the salt of the earth. They gave us high ideals and they hardly ever received more than $40 a month for it.”

Even in 2021, 120 years after he graduated from Independence High School, Truman’s words for his teachers ring true.

As you might be able to guess, Truman gravitated toward the subjects of history and biology in school. 

“Reading history, to me,” he said, “was far more than a romantic adventure. It was solid instruction and wise teaching which I somehow felt that I wanted and needed. I could see that history had some extremely valuable lessons to teach. I learned from it that a leader is a man who has the ability to get other people to do what they don’t want to do, and like it.”

Which of Truman’s teachers could have known that they were teaching a future president? And someone’s out there doing it today without a clue. Such is life.

Take a look at some of our favorite Truman quotes on education below, and, to all the teachers out there, thank you and good luck in 2021-22.

Truman's first-grade class
The first grade class of children at the Noland School (Southside School), are standing on the steps on the school. Teacher Miss Myra Ewing is standing at the back on the left. Mize Peters is third in top row. Young Harry S. Truman is the first child on the left of the bottom row. All others are unidentified. From the Estate of Mary Jane Truman. Ca. 1892. Courtesy of the Truman Library.
“Without a strong educational system democracy is crippled. Knowledge is not only key to power. It is the citadel of human freedom.”
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”
“For our day, and our children’s day, education must become a continuing adventure in human understanding, shared by all.”
“If peace is to endure, education must establish the moral unity of mankind.”
“To take full advantage of the increasing possibilities of nature, we must equip ourselves with increasing knowledge.”
“We must remember that we cannot insulate our children from the uncertainties of the world in which we live or from the impact of the problems which confront us all. What we can do and what we must do is to equip them to meet these problems, to do their part in the total effort, and to build up those inner resources of character which are the main strength of the American people.”
“Education is our first line of defense. In the conflict of principle and policy which divides the world (today), America’s hope, our hope, the hope of the world, is in education.”
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