The Phantom Tollbooth
by Norton Juster
The Phantom Tollbooth Education Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"I can't see the point in learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February." And, since no one bothered to explain otherwise, he regarded the process of seeking knowledge as the greatest waste of time of all. (1.3)
Poor Milo – he obviously doesn't have a resource like Shmoop to turn to in order to make learning less, well, boring. We kid, we kid. But seriously, Milo thinks education is simply pointless whether it's math, geography, or English. While he sees all of life as pretty much without merit, the narrator emphasizes that Milo thinks "seeking knowledge [i]s the greatest waste of time of all." If only he could go on adventure that would make him think differently…
"You see, years ago I was just an ordinary bee minding my own business, smelling flowers all day, and occasionally picking up part-time work in people's bonnets. Then one day I realized that I'd never amount to anything without an education and, being naturally adept at spelling, I decided that – ". (4.38)
The Bee is one of the many characters Milo meets in the Lands Beyond who values learning. Somehow, though, the encouragement to take up "an education" sounds less preachy coming from a Bee than it might from one of the adults Milo knows back at home, which makes Milo a bit more willing to hear what he has to say.
"You know something, Tock?" he said as he wound up the dog. "You can get in a lot of trouble mixing up words or just not knowing how to spell them. If we ever get out of here, I'm going to make sure to learn all about them." (5.42)
From here on out, Milo slowly begins to realize the value and importance of learning things. Each time he gets into a jam in the Lands Beyond, or meets someone new, he comes out the other side with a new appreciation for learning, and this is the first example.