Memory Gems

I'd never heard of blackboard mottoes (also known as "Memory Gems"), which were once commonplace in schools, until reading Primary Work: A Manual for Young Teachers (c. 1907). Some quick research led me to this: "The use of good mottoes serves many good purposes, not the least of which is that a sentiment or injunction on which a child's eye rests every time he raises it from his book, is pretty sure to be indelibly fixed in his memory, and to give rise to thoughts whose pondering may be of great profit." How wonderful! (A brief "how to" can be found here.)

Here's more:

One other method of direct moral teaching calls for mention. It is the use made of mottoes and memory gems both by teachers and children. Here again the blackboard is brought into play. It is the common thing to see a motto, frequently illuminated with coloured chalks, or an extract from the prose or poetry read in the class, written up on one part of the blackboard.

An art room may contain a Browning quotation, an ordinary class room a nature piece, a moral sentiment, sometimes a verse of Scripture. There it is before the children, side by side with a picture of the boy Christ or one of the Madonnas, as a sort of reminder by the way, helping to make the class-room, even to its "almighty wall," a home of the child's higher thought. Mottoes are sometimes chosen and written up by the children, and in almost every lower grade each week brings with it a new "memory gem," most likely selected by the teacher from those brought by the pupils, which the whole class learns.

  1. Each thing in its place is best. — Longfellow
  2. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. — Keats
  3. Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.
  4. In seeking the pleasure of others we fill to the full our own measure.
  5. There's a beautiful spirit breathing now Its mellowed richness on clustered trees. —Longfellow
  6. It is not with success we build our lives, but with noble endeavors.
  7. Bad habits gather by unseen degrees. —Longfellow
  8. Let us do our work as well, Both the unseen and the seen. —Longfellow
  9. Politeness is to do and say The kindest thing in the kindest way.
  10. Be prompt in everything.
  11. Kind hearts are more than coronets. —Tennyson
  12. Hearts like doors, can open with ease / To very, very little keys, / And don't forget that they are these — / "Thank you, sir" and "If you please."
  13. People are great only as they are kind. —The Philistine
  14. Speak well of everyone if you speak of them at all. —The Philistine
  15. Things done by halves are never done right.
  16. A laugh is worth a hundred groans in any market. —Lamb
  17. One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man. —Goethe
  18. Do the head work before the hand work.
  19. Am I helping or hindering?
  20. Let us be faithful in little things.
  21. If at first you don't succeed, Try again!
  22. Self-control is the foundation of all knowledge.
  23. Quiet people are welcome everywhere.
  24. All one's life is music if we touch the notes right and in right tune. —Ruskin
  25. Courtesy costs nothing and gains everything. —Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
  26. God's in His Heaven, All's right with the world. —Browning
  27. Slow and sure wins the race.
  28. Be gentle.
  29. Patience opens all doors.
  30. Do to others as you'd have them do to you.
  31. Live up to your promises.
  32. He is strong who won't do wrong.
  33. Cloud and sun together make the year: Without some storm no rainbow could appear.
  34. Kind words are little sunbeams, That sparkle as they fall.
  35. Do your best, your very best.
  36. Live for the good that you can do.
  37. A loving heart is the great requirement. —The Philistine
  38. Denying a fault doubles it.
  39. Not how much, but how well.
  40. Good manners are a part of every little girl's and boy's education.
  41. It is what you do for yourself that educates you.
  42. There is nothing so kingly as kindness And nothing so royal as truth. —Alice Gary
  43. A man is known by the company he keeps.
  44. Life is not so short but there is always time for courtesy. —Emerson
  45. It is joy to think the best of humankind. —Wordsworth
  46. The art of memory is the art of paying attention.
  47. Be friendly and you will never want friends.
  48. Not what I have, but what I do, is my kingdom.
  49. Habitually doing what you believe to be right exercises conscience.
  50. Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.
  51. Doing doubles capability.
  52. The love of truth exalts and ennobles.
  53. Good words and gentle manners are the highest forms of beauty.
  54. Resisting temptation strengthens the will.
  55. Evil acts show evil minds.


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