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Ten inspirational educational thinkers past and present


Category: Education

25 June 2018

How, where, when and why should we learn? There are many theories, but here are ten of the most influential.

Mary Warnock is an influential British philosopher and educator. One of her major contributions to education was the Warnock report on special educational needs in 1978. She placed emphasis on teaching children with learning difficulties in mainstream schools, and giving them the support they need.

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator whose work Pedagogy of the Oppressed is one of the key texts of the critical pedagogy movement. Freire saw education as inseparable from politics, and as a tool for the oppressed to recover their humanity and escape their situation.

Ken Robinson is a British author, and has suggested that to be successful, education must combine three aspects. It should offer a broad curriculum, encourage curiosity, and be delivered through creative and alternative teaching methods. His TED Talk ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ has over 51 million views.

John Dewey argued that education is instrumental in creating social change and reform. He saw the role of the teacher as producing citizens who can act intelligently and morally in a democratic community.

Caleb Gattegno made significant contributions to mathematics education. He encouraged retention over memorisation, a technique based on using the senses to make for more effective learning.

Carol Dweck is a professor of psychology known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. She argues that some people have a fixed mindset and consider success to be based on ability, and other people have a growth mindset and believe success to be based on hard work and learning. Her advice is to educate children from a young age by praising their efforts rather than abilities.

Maria Montessori was an Italian doctor and educator who worked with children, including children with mental and physical disabilities. Her method stresses that children should be encouraged to develop their own initiative and natural abilities through play. This is still widely used today.

Margaret McMillan was a Christian socialist who pushed for reform in early years education, and pioneered a play-centred approach in nurseries. She founded an open-air nursery and advocated outdoor play as a learning tool.

This set the foundation for contemporary approaches such as the forest school, embraced here at ARU thanks to experts such as former colleague Sara Knight.

Marie Clay was a New Zealand researcher famous for her work in literacy. She was the first non-North American to be elected president of the International Reading Association. She pioneered the Reading Recovery programme to help children who struggle to read at an early stage.

John Ruskin was a prominent art critic and social thinker; he's also our University’s namesake. Ruskin supported the idea that through education, workers could achieve an important sense of fulfilment and that it was the duty of the government to educate people.

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