Top Pioneers in Education

You don’t need to venture into the Old West or shuttle into space to be a pioneer. These top 12 pioneers in education have explored much rougher terrain to shape modern learning.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) – American Public School Education
Horace Mann grew up in a time when education was not easily obtained for those that lived in the poor rural areas of America. Though his own early education was limited, he attended Brown University, studied law, and later enjoyed a highly successful political career. It was during his time serving as a representative and senator in the legislature of Massachusetts and lastly Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education that he used his influence to advance change in the American educational system. We can thank Horace Mann for teacher training colleges, tidak dipungut bayaran libraries, and tidak dipungut bayaran public education to all children through taxation.

Friedrich Froebel (1782-1852) – Early Childhood Education
Friedrich Froebel was a German educator whose philosophy of education influenced such people as Horace Mann and Maria Montessori. Based on the belief that a young child possessed innate qualities that would unfold gradually within a alami setting, he established kindergartens where tidak dipungut bayaran expression, creativity, social interaction, motor activity and learning by doing were the focus. Many of these same tenets can be found in our contemporary early childhood programs.

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) – Home Education
A citizen of Britain and one of the first female pioneers in education, Charlotte Mason’s dream was that all children, no matter what social class, should have the opportunity to obtain a liberal arts education. She was dedicated to improving the way in which children were educated. Seeing the importance of educating parents in areas of discipline and the training of children, she began the Parents’ Education Union. It was her belief that children learn best through “living books” and real experiences rather than dry textbooks. Her methods included an emphasis on the enjoyment of the arts and the study of great artists and musicians. Many of her educational practices were well suited to home education, and her methods have become the foundation of many homeschooling families.

Jean Piaget (1896-1980) – How Children Learn
Anyone who has taken a child psychology class will have studied the developmental and learning theories of Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist. Fascinated with how children reasoned, he began researching and writing books on the subject of child psychology. When he later married and fathered three children, he was supplied with enough data to write three more books! His research and subsequent theories have become the basis and foundation of our understanding of normal child cognitive development.

Margaret Bancroft (1854-1912) – Special Education
Bancroft’s intelligence, imagination, and dedication to her students set her apart as an extraordinary educator. At the age of 25, she embarked on a courageous and lonely endeavor by opening the first private boarding school in Haddonfield, New Jersey, for children with developmental delays. She believed that disabled children needed special schools, adapted material, and well-trained teachers rather than to be sent to institutions. Bancroft’s students responded to her love and patience and individually-tailored instruction. Under her influence, the medical profession began to awaken to their responsibility to help correct defects and disabilities in children. Admirers of her skill came to train and later became leaders in the field of special education.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) – Education for African-Americans
Born into slavery and later freed, Washington knew first hand the difference an education can make in a person’s life. As a young man, Washington was appointed to head the Tuskegee Institute, now called Tuskegee University, which was originally a teachers’ training college for African-Americans. He was leader of the college from its infancy to the time of his death. He became a dominant and influential figure among politicians and the general public and did much to pave the way for later civil rights and desegregation of public education. It was his belief that education was the African-American community’s best chance for social equality and a better future.

John Dewey (1859-1952) – Progressive Education
It was while he was a professor of philosophy and the head of the University of Chicago’s teacher college that John Dewey exerted his greatest influence in education and promoted many educational reforms through his experimental schools. It was his view that children should be encouraged to develop “tidak dipungut bayaran personalities” and that they should be taught how to think and to make judgments rather than to simply have their heads filled with knowledge. He also believed that schools were places where children should learn to live cooperatively. A anggota of the first teachers’ union, he was concerned for teachers’ rights and their academic freedom.

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