"It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the
living root and then try to replace its natural functions by artificial means.
Thus we suppress the child's curiosity and then when he lacks a natural interest
in learning he is offered special coaching for his scholastic difficulties."
- Alice Duer Miller
Alice Duer Miller (1874 -1942) was born and raised in the wealthy and influential Duer family
of New York. Shortly after her formal debut into society, her family's wealth
was lost in a bank crisis. Beginning in 1895 she studied mathematics and
astronomy at Barnard College, earning her way through publishing short stories,
essays and poems in national magazines.
She graduated in 1899, marrying Henry Wise Miller the same year. She taught for
a few years until Henrys income could support them both, at which time she
devoted herself to writing. Her specialty was "light fiction"; her best
remembered novel being The White Cliffs (1940) about a marriage of an
American woman to a British soldier. From the 1920s a number of her stories were
made into successful movies, and she worked in Hollywood as a writer.
She was very active in the womens suffrage movement, writing a column for the
New York Tribune titled "Are Women People?" Her columns were published in two
volumes; Are Women People: A Book of Rhymes for Suffrage Times (1915) and
Women are People! (1917).
Henry Wise Miller published a biography of his wife, All Our Lives, in
1945. The book is currently in print and excerpts can be read at
Questia.com. Are Women People is also currently in print, as are a couple
of Miller's other books; the remainder can be found second hand through resources
such as AddAll.com.
Recommended: Alice Duer Miller's quote was addressed to an earlier generation,
but many are still beating the same drum of creativity in education today. If
you have any interest in education we strongly recommend you take the time to
watch Ken Robinson's inspiring and entertaining
minute speech on the subject at the 2006 TED conference.