Passages and Quotations: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Their walk had brought them into broad Chambers Street. The group had changed its order, and was now walking three abreast, with Miss Brodie in front between Sandy and Rose. “I am summoned to see the headmistress at morning break on Monday,” said Miss Brodie. “I have no doubt Miss Mackay wishes to question my methods of instruction. It has happened before. It will happen again. Meanwhile, I follow my principles of education and give of my best in my prime. The word ‘education’ comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul. To Miss Mackay it is a putting in of something that is not there, and that is not what I call education, I call it intrusion, from the Latin root prefix in, meaning in and the stem trudo, I thrust. Miss Mackay’s is to thrust a lot of information into the pupil’s head; mine is a leading out of knowledge, and that is true education as is proved by the root meaning. Now Miss Mackay has accused me of putting ideas into my girls’ heads, but in fact that is her practice and mine is quite the opposite. Never let it be said that I put ideas into your head. What is the meaning of education, Sandy?”

“To lead out,” said Sandy…

From The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, by Muriel Spark


And a clip from Maggie Smith in her Oscar-winning performance as Miss Jean Brodie in her prime (the latest reason I’ve still got library fines…):


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