Twenty Influential Figures in Education
It is an indisputable fact that education lies at the foundation of all human achievements.
Nālandā was an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India. The site is located about 88 kilometres south east of Patna, and was a religious center of learning from the fifth century A.D. to 1197 A.D.
From the planting of the first crop to the pyramids in Egypt, from the invention of the steam engine to the prolific rise of information technology.
It is education and innovation that has enabled us toward progress and a better life.
Below is a list of influential figures that have shaped the evolution of education and have had a lasting impact in the field.
1. Protagoras (485-414 B.C.) was an influential Greek teacher and a prominent Sophist. Sophists believed in developing the communication and persuasive skills of their students in order to prepare them for public office and other important posts.
Sophists placed importance on the subjects of logic, grammar, rhetoric, and public speaking. Students were taught to argue both sides of the issue rather than pursuing their beliefs.
Protagoras developed an effective teaching method that taught students how to become good communicators and persuaders.
The influence of Protagoras, and the Sophists, is evident today in the political arena as well as the courtroom.
2. Socrates (469-399 BC) is by far one of the most well-known Greek philosophers in the world. His works continue to influence Western society to this day. Unlike the Sophists, Socrates believed in the pursuit of the truth.
He advocated a liberal education in order to get to this truth.
Socrates was a proponent of academic freedom, a concept enshrined in today’s universities and institutions of higher learning.
The Socratic Method, a dialogue based teaching method that forces students to think critically and deeply, is still in use today and is often cited as one of the best methods to teach and test.
3. Plato (429-347 BC) was a student of Socrates, and the teacher of Aristotle. Along with Socrates and Aristotle, he is regarded as the most influential figure in Western philosophy, thought, and ultimately, civilization.
In The Republic, Plato outlines the ideal society as the one ruled by a philosopher-king. He placed a firm emphasis on the education of rulers, and regarded extensive studying as a necessity to assume political office.
Plato believed in life-long learning – constant intellectual, moral, and spiritual growth.
Taking into account the content and depth of his philosophy, Plato impacted education in countless ways.
4. Aristotle (384-322 BC) is considered to be among the greatest philosophers of all time. His works drove at the fundamental questions of virtue, happiness, and an ideal society.
Aristotle considered education highly important as it gave an individual, and the society at large, the means to pursue virtue, truth, and happiness. His fundamental argument was to use education not for vocational and practical training; rather education was to teach men how to effectively reason.
5. Quintilian (35-100 AD) was a Roman teacher of oratory and rhetoric. He was one of the first educators in the western world who advocated an early beginning of education as well the enjoyable content of the curriculum.
He was in favor of public schools as they taught more than just the curriculum; they equipped the student with social and conversational skills as well. Unlike Cicero, Quintilian advocated a more focused curriculum. Education for Quintilian was the creation of a perfect public speaker.
6. Desiderius Erasmus (1467-1536) was one of most influential humanist of the Renaissance. He strongly believed in influencing the proclivity of children toward education from an early stage.
He moved away from scientific inquiry of human nature and knowledge, and advocated teaching students about important issues in life through literature. The importance of a good teacher was also stressed. Teachers should not be limited by dogmatic interests but rather should have a broad outlook and knowledge base.
7. John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) was a Czech educator and writer. He is considered to be one of the most important pioneers of modern day education and a forerunner to many philosophers and educational theorists.
He designed currently followed schooling structure, formulated a generalized theory of education, and outlined several important tenets of child education.
8. John Locke (1632-1704) was a British philosopher credited with having a significant influence on the foundational philosophy of the United States.
His impact on education was the articulation of the relationship between a well-educated populace and self-governance, and the concept of mind being a tabula rasa, a blank slate, at birth that is impacted by its surroundings.
9. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was a French philosopher. He articulated a vision of education different than thinkers before him.
He believed that students should be student in accordance with their capacities and development, and argued against a teacher centered education where knowledge is disseminated based on a predetermined curriculum. His best known work on education is Emile.
10. Johann Pestalozzi (1746-1827) was a Romantic Swiss educationalist and education reformer. He posited an extremely personal view on education believing that education was the foundation for an individual’s life.
He also played a significant role in the development of physical education and its implementation in school curriculum.
11. Johann Friedrich (1776-1841) was a German philosopher, psychologist, and professor. He believed in the systematic organization of education and instruction in well-defined steps, and has strongly influenced teacher education in many countries.
He also helped bring subjects such as history to the forefront as a result of their ability to teach moral values and virtues.
12. Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) was a German educationist who pioneered the concept of the kindergarten system.
His influence is felt throughout the world every morning when millions of kids head to kindergarten to gain the foundation for their educational journey.
13. Horace Mann (1796-1859) was an American politician and education reformer who is responsible for the creation of the American public school systems.
He believed that free education could help produce better citizens. Furthermore, he argued that this education should be provided through tax funds and by trained and professional teachers.
14. Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) was an English Social Darwinist who believed that individuals of greater intellect and skill will slowly but surely replace their inferior counterparts.
He advocated the use of the scientific method to reach the truth. He was against public schools, and instead believed that private schools ought to compete for the brightest students.
15. Margaret Bancroft (1854-1912) was a pioneer of special education in American society. She believed that there were fundamental differences between children who suffer from developmental abnormalities and those who do not.
As a consequence, children with developmental delay problems need a different approach to education.
16. John Dewey(1859-1952) is arguably the most influential educational thinker of the twentieth century. In particular, he greatly shaped American education.
He was focused on pragmatism, and as a result, made schools susceptible to change and progress. He also influenced the “hands-on” approach for facilitating better and more involved education for students.
17. Jane Addams (1860-1935), the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, is known for her rally against gender discrimination in education as well as her vision of education and schooling as a means to educate well shaped students to become better social citizens.
Her influence is especially felt in the equality of education opportunity for females.
18. Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was an Italian educator and the first Italian female qualified as a physician.
Like her predecessors she realized the importance of early experiences on a child’s later development.
She focused her work on addressing early education as a formative block for later life. Her legacy resides in the thousands of Montessori Schools that operate worldwide today.
19. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) was a Swiss developmental psychologist whose contribution to education came through his groundbreaking work on the growth of knowledge – from children to adults.
In particular, he researched the cognitive development of children. This research linked children and their education, and greatly influenced elementary education practices.
20. Paulo Freire (1921-1997) was a Brazilian educationalist who is well known for his text Pedagogy of the Oppressed.
He believed that education was more than simple literacy; rather it should be a vehicle for people to assess their conditions and those responsible for it. Education, for Freire, was supposed to include questions about the search for identity, equality, and justice.
These 20 men and women may well be some of the most influential people in history. The way their brilliant minds have shaped education and the way the system is run have had more influence than most of them probably ever imagined.
As you go through your education process, you can look back and thank these figures of history you have the opportunities you have today.
Yesterday I had pointed out that the United States is not as bright as people think. I say this because more than 2/3 of the population do not believe Jesus is God and more than half the population voted for Obama twice.
Only 27% of the United States truly love Jesus.
Without faith you cannot please God and if you don’t please God you go to hell (Heb 11:6).
Out of the above 20 names only three of them are Americans. One of them was a man, Horace Mann, but he was also a politician. Two of them were women, Margaret Bancroft and Jane Addams, and they were all about education.
Here’s a thought, we haven’t had a real president since Reagan, so maybe our country needs a female president. I’m talking about a real woman, not a want-a-be like John Kerry, or a beast like Hilary Clinton, but a woman that cares about our country.
Yet, I have a horrible feeling that Hilary will be our next president, but she shouldn’t be allowed because in all actuality, she was already president for eight years.
Paul was the probably the greatest instructor of all, he basically covered the globe teaching the word of God. Tomorrow we’ll look at…
Paul at Thessalonica
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Thessalonica was located at the intersection of two major Roman roads, one leading from Italy eastward (Ignatia Way) and the other from the Danube to the Aegean. Thessalonica’s location and use as a port made it a prominent city.
“Amphipolis…Thessalonica” – the Egnatian Way crossed the whole of present-day northern Greece east-west and included Philipp. Amphipolis, Apollonia and Thessalonica on its route.
At several locations, such as Kavalla (Neapolis), Philippi and Apollonia, the road is still visible today. If a person traveled about 30 miles a day, each city could be reached after one day’s journey.
“Thessalonica” – about 100 miles from Philippi. It was the capital of the province of Macedonia and had a population of more than 200,000, including a colony of Jews (and a synagogue). All these continued to Paul’s decision to preach there.
2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
Amphipolis, ancient city in the historic region of Macedonian Greece.
Amphipolis was originally inhabited by the Edonians from the southern European region of Thrace, but it became a colony of the Athenians in 437 B.C.
It controlled the outlet of the Strymon, the largest river in Greece, and a bridge spanned the river at this outlet, as one does today.
The Amphipolis region was one of the wealthiest sections of Greece, profiting from gold mining on the slopes of Mount Pangaeus and the rich supply of timber from which the Athenians drew material.
7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.
8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.
9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.
10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honorable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.
14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.
“To go as it were to the sea” – one might conclude that Paul went by boat to Athens. But the road to Athens is also a coast road, and Paul may have walked the distance after having been escorted to the coast (some 20 miles).
In any event, Christian companions stayed with him until reaching Athens.
15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed.
Temple ruins (Monument of Agonothetes) in Apollonia.
Apollonia was an ancient Greek city in Illyria, located on the right bank of the Aous river (modern-day Vjosë).
Its ruins are situated in the Fier region, near the village of Pojani, in modern-day Albania.
Apollonia was founded in 588 BCE by Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth, on a site initially occupied by Illyrian tribes and was perhaps the most important of the several classical towns known as Apollonia.
“Athens” – five centuries before Paul, Athens had been at the height of its glory in art, philosophy and literature. She had retained her reputation in philosophy through the years and still maintained a leading university in Paul’s day.
16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
“Philosophers of the Epicureans” – originally they taught that the supreme good is happiness – but not mere momentary pleasure or temporary gratification. By Paul’s time, however, this philosophy had degenerated into a more sensual system of thought.
“Stoicks” – they taught that people should live in accord with nature, recognize their own self-sufficiency and independence, and suppress their desires.
At its best Stoicism had some admirable qualities, but, like Epicureanism, by Paul’s time it had degenerated into a system of pride.
“Babbler” – the Greek word meant “seed picker,” a bird picking up seeds here and there. Then it came to refer to the loafer in the marketplace who picked up whatever scraps of learning he could find and paraded them without digesting them himself.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
“Areopagus” – means “Hill of Ares.” Ares was the Greek god of thunder and war (the Roman equivalent was Mars). The Areopagus was located just west of the acropolis and south of the Agora and had once been the site of the meeting of the Court or Council of Areopagus.
Earlier the Council governed a Greek city-state, but by New Testament times the Areopagus retained authority only in the areas of religion and morals and met in the Royal Portico at the northwest corner of the Agora.
Because the present city of Veria is built over the old city of Berea, little of the ancient city can be seen.
We also visited the old Jewish quarter where we saw this synagogue, probably built over the site of the synagogue that Paul visited when he first came to Berea.
They considered themselves the custodians of teachings that introduced new religions and foreign gods.
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
“TO THE UNKINOWN GOD” – In addition to the twelve main gods and the innumerable lesser deities, ancient Greeks, out of fear of offending any god by failing to give him attention, worshiped a deity they called Agnostos Theos, that is: the Unknown god.
In Athens, there was a temple specifically dedicated to that god and very often Athenians would swear “in the name of the Unknown god” (Νή τόν Άγνωστον Ne ton Agnoston) .
Other Greek writers confirm that such altars could be seen in Athens – a striking point of contact for Paul.
Athens is one of the oldest named cities in the world, having been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years.
Situated in southern Europe, Athens became the leading city of Ancient Greece in the first millennium BC and its cultural achievements during the 5th century BC laid the foundations of western civilization.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent:
“Times of this ignorance God winked at” – God had not judged them for worshiping false gods in their ignorance.
31 Because he hath appointed And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
“Dionysius” – Later tradition states, though it cannot be proved, that he became bishop of Athens.
“Damaris” – Some have suggested that she must have been a foreign, educated woman to have been present at a public meeting such as the Areopagus. It is also possible that she was a God-fearing Gentile who had heard Paul at the synagogue.
…Paul’s second journey.