Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Education Quotes Page 1
How we cite our quotes:
"I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the center of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think –" (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the school-room, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "– yes, that's about the right distance – but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice grand words to say.) (Wonderland 1.8)
Alice is a diligent student and makes every attempt to practice her learning. Yet everything she knows about geography is either muddled or useless in Wonderland; none of her book learning has given her practical skills for finding her way.
. . . she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked "poison," it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later. (Wonderland 1.16)
The tone of the book becomes extremely dry when the narrator starts mocking the morality tales that Victorian children had to read. You may have read this kind of story yourself – a tale that warns you about the consequences of foolish behavior with a gruesome death or outcome. The narrator is scornful of this kind of story, and we can tell that he would never torture Alice just to make a didactic point.
"Perhaps it doesn't understand English," thought Alice. "I daresay it's a French mouse, come over with William the Conqueror." (For, with all her knowledge of history, Alice had no very clear notion of how long ago anything had happened.) (Wonderland 2.16)
Practical and theoretical knowledge are contrasted once again. Alice may know about "history" but she doesn't know "how long ago anything had happened." Yet if she truly mastered the theory, she'd have practical knowledge, too.