Wisdom of Proverbs

Program 47 • 29 mins


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An elementary school in Vermont teaches age old wisdom sayings. Adages like “all that glitters is not gold” and “haste makes waste” manage to transform timeless truths from ancient human experience. In this episode of Humankind, we meet Professor Wolfgang Meider, who teaches proverbs to students in Deborah Holmes’ fourth grade class at Milton Elementary School in Milton, Vermont. Meider believes that when young people study proverbial wisdom it helps them develop intellectual virtues and a commitment to moral values. During the school year the proverbs are discussed and analyzed and each student writes in a journal what the proverbs mean to them. The students are able to relate to the proverbs because they are clear and concise, and easy to remember, and often come up at relevant times when a dose of ancient wisdom is required.


  • What can students learn from time-honored proverbs?
  • How do students relate to these wise sayings?
  • What do teachers hope to gain by teaching students proverbs?
  • Why do we need proverbs?

It’s a short sentence. It speaks the truth and children are honest, and they do relate to them. There’s some core value there that’s integral in a child that the proverb speaks to.”

—Deborah Holmes, Fourth grade teacher at Milton Elementary School, Milton VT


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