Roger Schank Quotes

Quotes found by Patrick Crispen

Schank on the importance of failure in training:

"Failing in interesting ways should be a goal of training ... Training through virtual learing should systematically (though artfully) lead people toward the proverbial cliff, unaware of where they're going until they find themselves failing. If I were in charge of training pilots, I would make sure to fashion a scenario in which trainees had to navigate through severe lightning with one engine out and the others sputtering, the cabin filling with smoke, and the plane being tossed about. Better to have pilots experience this as a simulation than as they fly a real plane."

--"Reviews: Virtual Learning ..." Technical Training. Oct. 1997. Lexis-Nexis. 17 Nov. 2000. Keywords: Roger Schank.

Schank on the problems with school:

"...[T]he school system has two flaws ... The first flaw is that the curriculum is wrong. They teach subjects that don't matter. The second flaw is how those subjects are taught. In the school system, learning is basically done by students sitting and the teacher talking. Well, 'you sit and I talk' is not the way people learn."

-- "Roger Schank Talks Training." Technical Training. May 1998. Lexis-Nexis. 17 Nov. 2000. Keywords: Roger Schank.

Schank on classrooms:

"I don't think there is any need for classrooms. I think that they're an archaic idea, although it will take a while to get rid of them."

-- Schank, Roger C., and Jona, Kemi. "Extracurriculars as the Curriculum: A Vision of Education for the 21st Century." p. 5. Whitepaper presented to the U.S. Department of Education by the Institute for Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, and Cognitive Arts Corporation. Available via email from

Quotes found by Roxanne Glaser

Schank on schools and organizations:

"Schools and organizations make a faulty assumption: If it's taught clearly and if people are tested on it, it will be remembered. In fact, clarity and testing have little to do with whether something is remembered."

-- Schank, Roger. Virtual Learning: A Revolutionary Approach to Building a Highly Skilled Workplace. p. 125. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997.

Schank on failure:

"Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. It is easy to recognize their expectation failures because people insist on explaining them."

-- Virtual Learning. p. 31

Schank on classrooms:

There is still a sense that the classroom is going to continue to suffice as a locus for education. With the advent of online courses, and the changes they will bring to education-from elementary through post-secondary-the era of the classroom is over."

-- "Extracurriculars as the Curriculum," p. 9-10.

Quotes found by Angela Harding

Schank on standardized tests:

"Real learning is difficult to measure through standardized tests."

-- Virtual Learning. p. 12.

Schank on failure:

"We punish students with bad grades when they offer the wrong ansers on tests. Negative consequences give failure a bad name. For learning to take place, there must be expectation failure."

-- Virtual Learning. p. 29.

Schank on different learning styles:

"Contrary to common belief, people don't have different learning styles. They do, however, have different personalities. The distinction is important, because we need to be clear that everyone learns the same way. In other words, all people learn through failure and practice, no matter what personality types they possess."

-- Virtual Learning. p. 48.

Quotes found by Barbara Friedman

Schank on learning:

"When learning isn't fun, it's not learning"

-- Virtual Learning. p. 11.

Schank on failure:

"A basic tenet of my view of education is if you don't fail, you learn nothing. I don't mean by failure you get an "F." I mean if you don't fail when trying to accomplish something, you fail to learn."

-- "Roger Schank Talks Training."

Schank on school:

"School isn't really about learning; it's about short-term memorization of meaningless information that never comes up later in life. The school model was never intended to help people acquire practical skills. It is intended to satisfy observers that knowledge is being acquired (for short periods of time)."

-- Virtual Learning. p. 7.

Quotes from other sources:

"He's always been ornery," recalls Danny Hillis, an AI scientist and founding scientist of supercomputer manufacturer Thinking Machines. "But he's ornery in a useful way." Robotics researcher Hans Moravec, who crossed paths with Schank at Stanford, remembers him simply as "a loudmouth with fairly interesting ideas."

-- Freedman, David H. "The Schank Tank." Wired Magazine. Aug. 1994. <

"Education depends on relationships between people," said David F. Noble, a history professor at York University in Toronto and a critic of online learning. "Interactive is not the same interpersonal. What Schank doesn't recognize is that teaching is not just about relaying knowledge."

-- Green, Joshua. "No Lectures or Teachers, Just Software." New York Times on the Web. 10 Aug 2000. <>

While Schank is highly regarded among his peers, he has "a very iconoclastic approach" that can turn some people off to his ideas, said Alan Kay, vice president of research and development at Walt Disney Imagineering and a colleague Schank's for more than 30 years. "Roger is a prima donna who can sing," Kay said. "(But) even the greatest prima donnas can't sing every role."

-- Dean, Katie. "Iconoclast says Show, Don't Tell." Wired News. 17 Aug. 2000. <,1294,38169,00.html>