"Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn” has been frequently credited (since the 1980s) to Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), but Franklin never said it. The saying has also been incorrectly identified as Native American.
The Chinese Confucian philosopher Xunzi (312-230 BC) wrote in Ruxiao (The Teachings of the Ru), as translated in 1990:
“Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.”
The version “I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand” was first popularly used in education in the 1960s. I Do—and I Understand was a 1966 book and a 1967 film by Derek Williams and the Nuffield Foundation. Mathematics Teaching Project. “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand” was credited to Dr. Herb True in 1978; ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” was credited to Benjamin Franklin in 1985.
Xunzi (Chinese: 荀子; pinyin: Xúnzǐ; Wade–Giles: Hsün Tzu, ca. 312–230 BC) was a Chinese Confucian philosopher who lived during the Warring States Period and contributed to one of the Hundred Schools of Thought. Xunzi believed man’s inborn tendencies need to be curbed through education and ritual, counter to Mencius’s view that man is innately good. He believed that ethical norms had been invented to rectify mankind.
Educated in the state of Qi, Xunzi was associated with the Confucian school, but his philosophy has a pragmatic flavour compared to Confucian optimism. Some scholars attribute it to the divisive times.
Wikiquote: Chinese proverbs
Transliteration (pinyin): Bù wén bù ruò wén zhī, wén zhī bù ruò jiàn zhī, jiàn zhī bù ruò zhīzhī, zhīzhī bù ruò xíng zhī; xué zhìyú xíng zhī ér zhǐ yǐ.
Literally: Not hearing is not as good as hearing, hearing is not as good as seeing, seeing is not as good as mentally knowing, mentally knowing is not as good as acting; true learning continues up to the point that action comes forth
Common: I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.
Moral: You can only understand something by trying it yourself.
Revised: Tell me and I [will] forget. Show me and I [will] remember. Involve me and I [will] understand.
Also: You can’t understand until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
From Xun Zi (荀子 8.儒效 23）
OCLC WorldCat record
I do, and I understand.
Author: Nuffield Foundation. Mathematics Teaching Project.
Publisher: [Oxford] : Nuffied Foundation, 1966.
Edition/Format: Book : English
OCLC WorldCat record
I do—and I understand
Author: Derek Williams; John Arnold; Radim Films.; Nuffield Mathematics Project.
Publisher: Oak Park, Ill. : Distributed by Radim Films, Inc., 1967.
Edition/Format: Film : Film Visual material : English
Examines a successful experiment in mathematics education conducted at a school in Blackpool, England, as part of the Nuffield Mathematics Project. Describes the new teaching method which gives children practical problems which they solve in groups.
12 June 1967, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Heavy Stress On Reading In Boston Schools” by Paul Rowell, pg. 3, col. 5:
There is an ancient Chinese proverb that in its wisdom relates..."I hear...and I forget. I see...and I remember. I do...and I understand.”
Man with Two Environments:
A Human Biology
By Margaret Rutherford
Appendix for Teachers
What I hear I forget:
What I see I remember:
What I do I understand.
Crisis in the Classroom:
The Remaking of American Education
By Charles E. Silberman
New York, NY: Vintage Books
In the words of an old Chinese proverb, “I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember; I do, and I understand.”
29 March 1978, Dallas (TX) Morning News, Earl Wilson syndicated entertainment column, pg. 16A, col. 2:
REMEMBERED QUOTE: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may remember. But involve me, and I’ll understand”—Dr. Herb True.
(The column is also in other newspapers in the Google News Archive—ed.)
Chemistry and Chemical Technology:
Part IV Spagyrical discovery and invention: Apparatus, theories and gifts
Edited by Joseph Needham
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press
I hear, and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.
A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry
By Lindsey D. Pankey and William J. Davis
Toledo, OH: Medical College Press
When working with your staff, consider what Benjamin Franklin said: ‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
14 April 1987, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “‘Head bear’ makes learning more like fun at Children’s Museum” by Beverly H. Butterworth, pg. D1, col. 4:
His focus was based on hands-on participation and an old Chinese proverb: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember. Have me do it and I understand.”
A Translation and Study of the Complete Works
Vol. II, Books 7-16
By John Knoblock
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
Pg. 81 (The Teachings of the Ru):
8.11 (Book 8, Chapter 11—ed.)
Not having heard something is not as good as having heard it; having heard it is not as good as having seen it; having seen it is not as good as knowing it; knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.
12 March 1991, Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “Hands-On Science: Schools putting emphasis on laboratory” by Alice Thrasher:
“You tell me, and I forget. You teach me, and I remember. You involve me, and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
The Harper Book of Quotations (Revised Edition)
By Robert I. Fitzhenry
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.
Native American saying
Great Quotes for Great Educators
By Todd Whitaker and Dale Lumpa
Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education
Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I understand. —Native American saying
Learning Styles and Inclusion
By Gavin Reid
London: Paul Chapman Publishing
His work in fact can be traced back to that famous dictum of Confucius around 450 BC: “Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand.”
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
February 3, 2010 9:44 AM
Adelaide Dupont said…
I remember that saying as a generic Chinese saying:
“I hear it and I forget.
I see it and I remember.
I do it and I understand.”