Famous Teachers throughout History

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As we celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s honor some famous teachers throughout history who have made important contributions. The following teachers have not only influenced the field of education, but also literature, science and philosophy!

Plato (c. 428-348 BC) was a Greek philosopher, mathematician and writer. He founded what is said to be the first university, the Academy, in Athens, Greece.

John Locke (1632-1704) believed that education is essentially the training of character rather than simply rote instruction in knowledge—to prepare for life rather than for the university. Locke’s influential Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) began as a series of letters about education. He offered several innovative ideas about raising children, including making learning tasks more pleasurable by turning them into games.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a schoolteacher who believed that children should not have to study exclusively from texts. He created a curriculum that included journal writing (rather than just memorization and recitation) and field trips (to the countryside for nature study, as well as to the local newspaper office, gunsmith, etc.).

Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) was a teacher who, despite being visually impaired, demonstrated amazing commitment to her most well known student, Helen Keller. She developed a method of touch teaching, using direct experience rather than attempting to explain a concept, and she reasoned that children learn by imitation and repetition.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) brought the theory of knowledge out of the realm of philosophy and into a science by observing that children’s logic and modes of thinking are entirely different from those of adults; children are constantly creating and testing their own theories of the world. As the Director of the International Bureau of Education, he declared in 1934 that, “only education is capable of saving our societies from possible collapse, whether violent, or gradual.”

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