10 Top Educators of All Times


The Internet loves lists. Many times you will find something like: The 10 Most…, The Top…, or Best of…. In a recent survey published on the Internet (1) Former President Barak Obama was ranked  12th on a list of best Presidents of the USA. This was done by historians. So why not have a top list of educators as well? It would be a wonderful initiative to start an International Year of Education. Did you know that the last one, instigated by UNESCO, was in 1970? Almost 50 years ago (2) . Time for a recurrence. Great pedagogues have been there in all times, innovating and renewing what we teach, and learn,  the way we build our schools and arrange our classrooms. It is they who gave us direction in how we educate from a young age till late in our lives. So who are they who framed an important and substantial part of our life? Some names comes immediately to mind, others may sound less familiar, or are even unknown to a greater audience. In a preparation for such a survey or poll of Top Educators of All Times a list of nominees, say The Top 10, would be helpful. What to think of: (not yet a ranking or priority listing! – that is for others to decide).

.. Socrates: for bringing us the important tool of questioning and keep on asking, both as a means for teachers and students.

..Comenius: who gave us the textbook containing illustrations (Orbis Pictus) to visualize and explicate better what we learn.

.. Pestalozzi. He was one of the first to center on the child as a learner and brought interest and motivation of the learner to the forefront of teaching.

.. Montessori. She helped us to modify and differentiate instruction to the level and pace of the learner.

These names may have set their marks on collective memory and also can be recognized in for instance the names of our schools.

But let’s continue with some less obvious, but still hugely influential pedagogues:

.. Bell & Lancaster. These innovators shaped the face of our classrooms, introducing the sitting arrangement facing up towards the blackboard with the teacher up front (not so popular anymore but still globally adopted).

.. Makarenkov. This Russian educator during Soviet times who renewed education in making it practice oriented, stressing activity and hands on involvement of learners.

.. Dewey. The American innovator of education who immensely influenced generations of educators with his ideas. His project method designed instruction in a completely different way.

..an Nazzam. This Arab poet and originator of Madrasa schools recognized the importance of memorization and the place of rehearsal in education.

.. Ellen Key. A Swedish feminist activist who put the child on the agenda of education and advocated the child centered approach

.. Fannie Williams. She was the force behind education for the young children, at kindergarten age, and health care to be able to participate in education.

There should be an extra and prominent slot for the ‘forgotten educator’  as well;  the silent one, the one that teaches and educates now and forever, all the time. That is to say the good teachers who work daily in our schools doing their utmost to help the ones entrusted to them to have good education



  1. http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/all-time-best-president-united-states-rankings-235149

2. http://www.un.org/en/sections/observances/international-years/


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