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Quotes of the day: Ellen Key

Published Friday, April 24, 2015 @ 2:41 PM EDT
Apr 24 2015

Ellen Karolina Sofia Key (December 11, 1849 – April 25, 1926) was a Swedish difference feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics and education and was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement. She was an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting, and was also a suffragist. She is best known for her book on education, Barnets århundrade (1900), which was translated in English in 1909 as The Century of the Child. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Anyone who would attempt the task of felling a virgin forest with a penknife would probably feel the same paralysis of despair that the reformer feels when confronted with existing school systems.

Art, that great undogmatized church.

At every step the child should be allowed to meet the real experience of life; the thorns should never be plucked from his roses.

Corporal punishment is as humiliating for him who gives it as for him who receives it; it is ineffective besides. Neither shame nor physical pain have any other effect than a hardening one.

Education can give you a skill, but a liberal education can give you dignity.

Everything, everything in war is barbaric... But the worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

Love is moral even without legal marriage, but marriage is immoral without love.

Not observation of a duty but liberty itself is the pledge that assures fidelity.

Side by side with the class war, the culture war must ceaselessly be waged by the young and among the young upon whom rests the responsibility of making the new society better for all than the old could be.

The educator must above all understand how to wait; to reckon all effects in the light of the future, not of the present.

The more horrifying this world becomes, the more art becomes abstract.

When one paints an ideal, one does not need to limit one's imagination.

Why is the heart that is broken considered so much more valuable than the one or the two who must cause the pain lest they themselves perish?

The mother is the most precious possessions of the nation, so precious that society advances its highest well-being when it protects the functions of the mother.

The genius of happiness is still so rare. To possess it means to approach life with the humility of a beggar, but to treat it with the proud generosity of a prince; to bring to its totality the deep understanding of a great poet and to each of its moments the abandonment and ingenuousness of a child.

The belief that we some day shall be able to prevent war is to me one with the belief in the possibility of making humanity really human.

All philanthropy ... is only a savory fumigation burning at the mouth of a sewer. This incense offering makes the air more endurable to passers-by, but it does not hinder the infection in the sewer from spreading.


(April 25 is also the birthday of Edward R. Murrow and William J. Brennan, Jr.)

Categories: Ellen Key, Quotes of the day


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