A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on” (11/20)
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Entry from December 19, 2012
“Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I will learn”

"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.


Wikipedia: Xunzi
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.
Traditional: 不聞不若聞之,聞之不若見之,見之不若知之,知之不若行之;學至於行之而止矣
Simplified: 不闻不若闻之,闻之不若见之,见之不若知之,知之不若行之;学至于行之而止矣
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
Summary:
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.”

Google Books
Man with Two Environments:
A Human Biology

By Margaret Rutherford
Harlow: Longmans
1969
Pg. 128:
Appendix for Teachers
What I hear I forget:
What I see I remember:
What I do I understand.
(Chinese proverb)

Google Books
Crisis in the Classroom:
The Remaking of American Education

By Charles E. Silberman
New York, NY: Vintage Books
1970
Pg. 216:
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.)

Google Books
Chemistry and Chemical Technology:
Part IV Spagyrical discovery and invention: Apparatus, theories and gifts

Edited by Joseph Needham
New York, NY: Cambridge University Press
1980
Pg. II:
I hear, and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do, and I understand.
(...)
Chinese proverbs

Google Books
A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry
By Lindsey D. Pankey and William J. Davis
Toledo, OH: Medical College Press
1985
Pg. 198:
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.”

Google Books
Xunzi:
A Translation and Study of the Complete Works

Vol. II, Books 7-16
By John Knoblock
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press
1990
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

Google Books
The Harper Book of Quotations (Revised Edition)
By Robert I. Fitzhenry
New York, NY: HarperPerennial
1993
Pg. 135:
Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.
Native American saying

Google Books
Great Quotes for Great Educators
By Todd Whitaker and Dale Lumpa
Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education
2005
Pg. 26:
Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I understand. —Native American saying

Google Books
Learning Styles and Inclusion
By Gavin Reid
London: Paul Chapman Publishing
2005
Pg. ?:
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.”

begin again...
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
(...)
COMMENTS
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.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityEducation/Schools • Wednesday, December 19, 2012 • Permalink