Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 7:36 pm | Fair 52º


Rae Largura: Impactful Education Leaders You Might Not Know About

When thinking of leaders who have represented education, several common names come to mind — Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. There are other leaders who might not have been so media associated, but have still made a large impact. I memorialize these courageous leaders as important creators of how our educational rights and standards have been shaped.

Horace Mann, born in Massachusetts, was a key leader in education. He was the father of the "common school." He wanted to make sure every child could access education regardless of the family’s financial status.

Mann traveled to every school in the state of Massachusetts to physically examine each school grounds for situations of which to change. He then did the same for every public school possible then expanding to Europe.

He founded the Common School Journal, targeting all public schools and their “problems.” His goal was to give opportunity to the less fortunate and that education would "equalize the conditions of men." Horace Mann is a name that is foremost in American education reform.

Maria Montessori was a physician from Italy. She worked with children who were seen as “mentally handicapped.” She learned that all children were smart and wanted to learn, especially when they were given something that interested them. She fell into a deep passion for these children, therefore, created a school where they learned basic skills of life as well as key educational subjects. She has left quiet a legacy with approximately 7,000 Montessori schools worldwide.

Maria Montessori

Sylvia Ashton-Warner from New Zealand spent most of her life teaching tribal children in New Zealand. Her legacy came from developing a teaching system using the “words that had personal meaning to the individual child.” She was a speaker, writer and advocate of education. She is famous for the quote, “It is not so much the content of what one says as the way in which one says it.”

Paulo Reglus Neves Freire from Brazi abandoned his career in law to commit himself to the education of the poor and politically oppressed. He believed that instructor-dominated classrooms denied the legitimacy of the student experience. His wish was for teachers to “facilitate and inspire” children to learn rather than take a stance of authoritarianism.

Freire’s best known work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, illustrated how education could transform society.

Even though these men and women are not household names, their influences on education and society mattered. Their commitments, among the many others, have shaped our rights and standards that we have today. They might be the media quiet unknown leaders, but their impact has been loud and respected.

Any subject, any grade: What is your question for a tutor? Email [email protected].

— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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