Who said: "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."

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"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 Henry's 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 women's 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 20 minute speech on the subject at the 2006 TED conference.

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