Origin of 'I see and I forget'

Posted by ESC on March 29, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of 'I see and I forget' posted by TheFallen on March 29, 2003

: : Does anyone know the definitive origin of the folowing?
: : "I see and I forget. I hear and I remember. I do and I understand."
: : There appear to be a number of variations, e.g. "I am shown and I forget, I touch and I remember, I do and I understand"
: : Previous attempts to unearth the true origin have yielded 'Confusious', 'Some ancient Greek' or an ancient chinese proverb.
: : My wife is using the phrase within an assignment and would like to be able to correctly reference the original source.
: : Can anyone help?
: : Many thanks
: : G

: The most common version seems to be "I see and I forget. I hear and I remember. I do and I understand." I've had the same lack of luck as you in trying to track this down. The alleged sources as you say include Confucius, an unspecified old Chinese proverb and the ancient Greeks. You may add to this list native Americans and someone called William Glaser (whoever he is). It may have to be referenced as "anon" unless someone can do better.

I haven't found it. The closest I got is the following:

"Learn by doing. - Anonymous (proverb). An ancient proverb, in modern times associated with the educational views of John Dewey. In the 'Nichomachean Ethics,' Aristotle wrote, 'For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." See Sophocles. "One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try." Sophocles, "Trachiniae." From "The New International Dictionary of Quotations," second edition, selected and annotated by Margaret Miner and Hugh Rawson, Signet, New York, 1994.