Sunday, October 16, 2011

Famous Educators that Have Made a Difference

One of the unfortunate truths of our current world era is that educators rarely get their due respect and admiration. Truth be told, this is a bit baffling, given that aside from those who have trained in medicine and law, teachers are, on average, the most educated professionals worldwide. Despite their long hours and meager salaries they persist in educating the youth of the world, molding and shaping the individuals who will soon take the torch as tomorrow’s leaders.

Despite that they fail to get their due attention and esteem in present day society, educators—and the teaching profession in general—have not always been overlooked. As it happens, in past eras teachers were held in very high regard and were considered some of the most prominent leaders of their day—in a number of different fields. Many of these famous educators went on to become some of the most celebrated authors, poets, philosophers and scientists the world has ever witnessed, with names that even today are synonymous with brilliance, genius and societal progression—responsible for words, techniques and ideas that have helped to shape the world we live in.

Some of these famous educators include:

Confucius (551-479 BC). Confucius was a famous educator and philosopher in China whose ideas about self-improvement through education are still widely read and valued today.

Plato (428-348 BC). Plato, who is said to have founded the first university, was a Greek teacher/philosopher who was adamant that both teachers and students should be lifelong learners and continue to improve themselves through education.

Jesus (5 BC-30 AD). No famous educator is more widely read today than Jesus, whose daily lessons via parables and proverbs continue to steer the lives of Christians around the world.

John Locke (1632-1704). John Locke was a famous educator who believed education should revolve around improving one’s character. He stressed guided training over rote instruction and preparation for life over preparation for university.

Horace Mann (1796-1859). Considered the “Father of the American Public School,” Horace Mann was a famous educator who believed that every child—wealthy or poor—should have regular, daily access to a well-rounded education. “Education for all,” says Mann “would become the great equalizer of men.”

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862). Henry David Thoreau, although perhaps best known for his poetry later in life and his love of nature, was a schoolteacher who believed that education should involve more than textbooks and memorization. He introduced new teaching techniques such as journal writing and field trips that, he said, would enhance the overall learning experience.

Anne Sullivan (1866-1936). There is perhaps no teacher who demonstrated more persistence and commitment than Anne Sullivan—the famous educator who worked closely and tirelessly with Helen Keller, a blind student with severe learning disabilities. Despite a handicap of her own, Sullivan developed and implemented a form of touch reading for Keller, stressing that children learn from direct experience and repetition rather than vague concepts.

This is just a partial list of the many famous educators whose commitment to teaching and learning has revolutionized the world and made progress possible. Collectively, they are a shining example of how central teachers are to the fabric of our society, and why teachers today should receive the notoriety and praise they deserve for the consistent dedication they demonstrate in carrying out the most essential of responsibilities: Educating our children.

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