Quotes from Antonio Gramsci

 (From:  Gramsci, Antonio.  Prison Notebooks, chapter II—“Education.” )


 […] learning takes place especially through a spontaneous and autonomous effort of the pupil, with the teacher only exercising a function of friendly guide—as happens or should happen in the university. To discover a truth oneself, without external suggestions or assistance, is to create—even if the truth is an old one. It demonstrates a mastery of the method, and indicates that in any case one has entered the phase of intellectual maturity in which one may discover new truths.


 […] it will always be an effort to learn physical self-discipline and self-control; the pupil has, in effect, to undergo a psycho-physical training. Many people have to be persuaded that studying too is a job, and a very tiring one, with its own particular apprenticeship—involving muscles and nerves as well as intellect. It is a process of adaptation, a habit acquired with effort, tedium and even suffering. Wider participation in secondary education brings with it a tendency to ease off the discipline of studies, and to ask for “relaxations”. Many even think that the difficulties of learning are artificial, since they are accustomed to think only of manual work as sweat and toil. The question is a complex one. Undoubtedly the child of a traditionally intellectual family acquires this psycho-physical adaptation more easily. Before he ever enters the class-room he has numerous advantages over his comrades, and is already in possession of attitudes learnt from his family environment: he concentrates more easily, since he is used to “sitting still”, etc. Similarly, the son of a city worker suffers less when he goes to work in a factory than does a peasant’s child or a young peasant already formed by country life. (Even diet has its importance, etc.)

     This is why many people think that the difficulty of study conceals some “trick” which handicaps them—that is, when they do not simply believe that they are stupid by nature. They see the “gentleman”—and for many, especially in the country, “gentleman” means intellectual—complete, speedily and with apparent ease, work which costs their sons tears and blood, and they think there is a “trick”. In the future, these questions may become extremely acute and it will be necessary to resist the tendency to render easy that which cannot become easy without being distorted. If our aim is to produce a new stratum of intellectuals, including those capable of the highest degree of specialisation, from a social collective which has not traditionally developed the appropriate attitudes, then we have unprecedented difficulties to overcome.

Gramsci, Antonio. Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Ed. and Trans. Derek Boothman. Essential Classics in Politics: Antonio Gramsci. CD-ROM. London: Electric Book Co., 1999.

See also: http://www.24hourscholar.com/p/articles/mi_qa3671/is_200207/ai_n9121406/pg_5?pi=scl

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