Teachers have always been the driving force in inspiring students to make a difference. Still one amongst a million is a teacher that envisions a different route than the one prevailing. These teachers see education as what it truly is, a means to learn.
Such teachers, better termed as revolutionaries, institutionalize the system in their reign. They are responsible for encouraging students who are yet to discover the potential in themselves; someone who turns the ordinary into extraordinary. The world has seen multiple such revolutionary teachers who are responsible for bringing out a change in their time and inscribing their names into the very history books they teach from.
Amongst thousands of such names peppered over history, here are five-
Confucius- The oldest teacher to bring education revolution
Confucius, a Chinese educator and philosopher, is one of the oldest known teachers to have brought about a progressive change in the methods of traditional education. He was a legend of the Chinese golden age. His teaching and philosophies have become a paragon for much of east Asian culture and society and poses relevance even today.
His popularity rose to such heights and accumulated under Confucianism. Confucius was responsible for teaching a lot of everyday social and political teaching to the Chinese society. His lessons circled around justice, freedom, kindness, governmental morality, human relationships etc.
Confucius not only devised theories for education for the Chinese, but also gave importance to promoting education to the poor and underprivileged. The general public, during his time, lacked access to education. Therefore, to break the shackles of this feudalism, he opened private institutions for the people, which was open for all irrespective of their caste or social standing.
He was one of the pragmatic revolutionary teachers of his time and revolutionized education through his philosophies. Alongside, he also strived hard to purge the feudal mentality from the elites of his era. Moreover, his Meritocracy system, which designed exams for each important official position, allowed candidates from any class or background to apply for these posts.
The system gained worldwide recognition and has been inculcated since. Thus, Confucius is one of the earliest philosophers and educators who have managed to stay relevant thousands of years after their life. His philosophies and methods of teachings manage to give valuable lessons to educators and teachers till date.
Maria Montessori- Self discovery in revolutionary education
Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori, a famous Italian educator, changed the system of education as we know today. She believed in the system of education through self-discovery. She theorized through her observations that children were smart enough to learn on their own if their teachers provide them a suitable environment for it. Her education theory, named after her, is still implemented in a wide number of private schools and institutions.
Montessori’s designed coursework was developed on the basis of her everyday observations of young children. Her theories suggest using small furniture for young children’s classrooms. It also encourages students to learn the habit of greeting their teachers and doing little tasks on their own. These tasks could be arranging their own chairs or cleaning up after themselves, putting back their toys etc.
As a child develops and progresses in school, different such techniques are implemented for them to develop and grow on their own. She felt that students could learn independence and self-motivation in early stages through such methods. A skill much essential after they grow up.
Revolutionary teachers like her were inspired through her techniques. Her teaching methods allow children free choice of choosing activities, freedom of movement and uninterrupted work. Teachers are mere observers who are supposed to ensure that no student stays passive, while directing the students’ innate psychological and behavioral growth.
Friedrich Froebel- A revolutionary for younger minds
Imagine a young developing mind staying at home and learning without any kind of social development. That was the case before Friedrich Froebel introduced the concept of Kindergarten. He was a middle school headmaster of an all-boys school before he found his true calling with pre-school children. At the same time, he invented the concept of Kindergarten and opened the first one in Blankenburg, Germany, his birth place.
Frobel believed that young children learned through self- activity, and methods of talk and play. Friedrich had always felt that the pre-school kids had a very sharp brain that absorbed habits and behaviors quicker. So, he devised a system of education specifically for them, highlighting their needs and requirements.
Frobel was the one to introduce activities like art and craft, paper cutting, clay modelling etc., in the curriculum for very young children. He firmly put emphasis on the fact that self-learning and self-discovery is the fastest route for young minds to understand concepts. He was amongst the first revolutionary teachers who theorized the relevance of school in a societal structure. Thus, changed the way school was perceived forever.
The Kindergarten Concept
Kindergarten is recognized as the best method of learning and development for young children, away from their homes. With activities like play and creative work, learning while creating and social interactions are what’s responsible for helping a child grow in a social environment. This kind of growth is important for the child to adapt to living in a school environment. And also develop habits at a stage where it is easier to inculcate them.
The miniature society concept for kindergarten has revolutionized early education for children. With introducing them to the social norms and helping them grow through themselves. The teachers or practitioners, again, should merely be facilitators of an environment where kids learn by themselves.
It is important, though, that the teacher understands different needs of different children. While some might be ready to make choices on their own, without some elder hovering, other children might need a superior. Being left on their own could overwhelm these kids might feel overwhelmed. Therefore, a teacher in kindergarten needs to assess these needs and act accordingly, as per Frobel.
William McGuffey- A textbook revolutionary teacher
The simplest way of teaching a child any language is by making them understand the alphabet, and then introduce sentences and assist vocabulary through subsequent reading. William McGuffey, a leading name amongst revolutionary teachers, developed this method of enhancing and establishing reading in schools.
His revolutionary thinking initialized when he first realized that the standard education system did not have any concepts of promoting reading for the young children. There was nothing but the bible available for them to read. This realization led him to develop something that would soon change the entire way of seeing the activity of reading and learning through it.
McGuffey became the professor of Language at Miami University in Oxford, where his ideas for language learning were extremely popular. His colleagues encouraged him to publish his readers, a series of books that could assist the students in reading.
McGuffey’s readers, titled as Eclectic Readers, set a standard for the future of textbooks. Till date, we follow the patterns of the written work, with necessary modifications made to keep it contemporary. The Eclectic readers gained widespread popularity within a few months of its release, with almost all immediate institutions clamoring over to adopt them in their curriculum.
About the Eclectic Readers
These readers, written at different levels, was suitable for different age groups. The first level introduced the basic phonics and simple alphabets. This progressed into small sentences and gradually led to poems and stories. These readers did not teach vocabulary as a list of words.
Rather, the texts accompanied new words to provide meaning and context to them alongside the reading. The presentation of these readers was extremely engaging, with pictures and exercises like questions and read along. This not only boosts their confidence to represent themselves in social settings, but also enhances their quick thinking and responding abilities.
Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan- India’s revolutionary educator
The First Vice President and the second Prime Minister of India, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan was an Indian teacher and educator. His contribution to Indian Education was so profound that Indians celebrate his birthday as Teachers’ Day.
He earned his post graduate degree at the age of 21 and since then set off to fulfill his passion of teaching. An extremely humble and pragmatic educator, his education policies and methods. garnered him respect from peers
His philosophy for education was that it should not be the dogmatic book learning. Nor should it be of complex theorems that are unrelated to real life. He was a revolutionary teacher who also believed that if education does not lead a student to experience a spiritual awakening, it wasn’t that effective in teaching. He worked towards educating students passionately, believing that it was essential for national integration and for increasing the productivity of the citizens of the country.
According to Dr. Radhakrishnan’s teaching philosophy, “the process of education should be able to create mental detachment and objectivity, which are the essential prerequisites of a well-balanced personality. The importance of education is not only in knowledge and skill, but it is to help us live with others….”
These revolutionary teachers and educators have unequivocally changed the prevailing perceptions for education, bringing a revolution in their times and for the centuries to come ahead. All these teachers weren’t orthodox or traditionalists—the purpose of education has changed and evolved over time. Today, we need more revolutionary teachers like them to take the next step in the education sector.