A List for Educators: Influences Over One Hundred Years
Faculty at Elmhurst College,IL
or the last six
to twelve months the media have presented us with numerous lists of
the top, the most significant, the favorite, or the most influential people
or events of the century. Lists seem to vary in length from ten to one
hundred. More of these lists are sure to come, but this writer offers
a list for educators - a list of those people who have greatly influenced
the education scene.
Parameters for developing this list were simple. Individuals needed
to have made a contribution after 1900. Contributions needed to be wide
in scope, not merely a local stir in educational circles. Individuals
were not limited to only the United States or to a specific level of education.
Background was gleaned from a variety of websites located at the end
of the list. Please visit them for additional information. The individuals
are ranked from one to twenty, with the first having the greatest influence.
1. John Dewey (1859-1952)
Dewey revolutionized educational thinking
by emphasizing learning by doing, which was a radical concept for an educational
system based on rote learning. He also organized the laboratory school
at the University of Chicago based on the principle that research is the
way to improve education. His books The School and Society (1900), Democracy
in Education (1916), and How We Think (1933) are still considered mandatory
reading for many college courses while discussion lists and websites about
Dewey are abundant.
2. Alfred Binet (1857-1911)
Binet was a French psychologist who
began studying the intelligence of children. He developed the first I.Q.
test, which has become one of the mainstays of education as well as the
subject of many educational controversies.
3. Edward Thorndike (1874-1949)
With the majority of his years
at Teacher's College of Columbia (1904-1940), Thorndike was a specialist
in educational psychology. Using animals as his subjects, he developed
the "law of effect" which held that behavior is learned by trial and error
and is more likely to occur if its consequences are satisfying. His best-known
texts, The Psychology of Learning (1914) and The Measurement of Intelligence
(1926) are still quoted today.
4. Burrhus Friederich Skinner (1904-1990)
Skinner was a behaviorist
whose behavior modification principles influenced classroom learning for
many years. Building on Thorndike's law of effect, he developed the concept
of operant conditioning. Interestingly, in the late 60's he became critical
of programmed instruction which some considered a natural outgrowth of
5. Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
Piaget was a Swiss psychologist whose
five-year plan to study children took thirty years. His research in the
development of children's cognitive functions is detailed in The Origins
of Intelligence in Children (1948). His finding, that the intellectual
actions are prepared by sensory-motor functions before language, changed
the way teachers viewed the education of young children.
6. Robert Gagne
Of the behaviorist school, Gagne has written
that learning has nine instructional events that should occur sequentially.
His books The Condition of Learning (1985) and Principles of Instructional
Design (1988) explain these events and emphasize that responsibility for
learning falls on the instructor alone.
7. Jerome Bruner
Bruner's 1960 publication of The Process of
Learning detailed learning as an active, social process. The teacher's
role is to encourage students to discover principles by themselves, a
departure from Gagne.
8. Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
Rogers introduced a new role for the
teacher as a facilitator. According to Rogers, two types of learning exist:
cognitive and experiential. Experiential learning is of the greatest importance
as he explained in On Becoming a Person (1961) and Freedom to Learn (1969).
Numerous educational programs have been built on experiential learning
9. Albert Bandura
Although Canadian by birth, Bandura is a Stanford
University professor. His Social Learning Theory became Social Cognitive
Theory. He developed a theory of modeling or observational learning and
his theories are explained in his 1986 book Social Foundations of Thought
10. Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
Books and articles by the Russian
Vygotsky were not revealed until after the Cold War. His major work, Thought
and Language (1934), was based on his research of children's problem solving;
and his Zone of Proximal Development theory has been discussed and analyzed
by educators worldwide. According to Vygotsky, mental activity results
from social learning. Thus learning circles, learning communities, and
cooperative learning can be viable strategies in education.
11. Benjamin Bloom(1914-1999)
A University of Chicago professor,
Bloom developed mastery learning. His Taxonomy of Educational Objectives
(1956), consisting of know, comprehend, apply, analyze, synthesize, and
evaluate has spurred educators to reevaluate and redesign classroom activities
for basic understanding, critical thinking, and problem solving.
12. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
Montessori was an Italian physician
who opened "children's house" in 1907. She developed an innovative system
of education for children ages 3 to 6 which included freedom of movement,
considerable choice, and specially designed equipment and activities.
Her system has been copied throughout the world.
13. Paulo Freire (1921-1997)
Freire, a Brazilian, abandoned a
law career, eventually earning a doctorate in education. His ideas, which
are most complete in Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), provided such radical
views about the education of adults that Brazilian officials considered
him subversive. He believed that those of the lowest socioeconomic classes
could be and should be literate. People become aware or conscientized
and enter a transfer state known as praxis. Education empowers the people.
14. Malcolm Knowles
Knowles is often referred to as the father
of adult education as a separate entity. He is associated with the terms
self-directed learning and andragogy. His text The Modern Practice of
Adult Education (12970) and its 1980 revision with the subtitle From Pedagogy
to Andragogy are essential reading for those interested in adult education,
a consistently growing field.
15. Ernest Boyer (1928-1995)
President of the Carnegie Foundation
from 1979 to 1995, Boyer saw the "interconnectedness of all learning"
as a reason for linking learning to community service. Currently, service
learning is an integral part of many course offerings in secondary and
postsecondary institutions. Scholarship Revisited (1990) and High School:
A Report on Secondary Education (1983) have become landmark texts.
16. James B. Conant (1893-1978)
President of Harvard from 1933
to 1953, Conant reorganized the curriculum of the university, placing
general education courses at the undergraduate level and professional
training for post-graduate students. Conant is often considered the father
of the modern American high school with his publications of The American
High School Today (1959) and The Education of American Teachers (1963).
17. Myles Horton (1905-1990)
In 1932, Horton founded the Highlander
Folk School based on the Danish concept. Despite a variety of segregation
laws, Horton taught leadership skills to both black and white students.
"Education leads to action" was his philosophy for this grass roots, activist
18. Howard Gardner
In 1983, Gardner, a Harvard professor, wrote
Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences in which he advocated
an assessment of all forms of intelligence. These forms, which include
linguistics, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical,
interpersonal, and intrapersonal, have greatly altered how educators view
intelligence and the value of I.Q. tests as proposed by Binet.
19. William S. Gray (1885-1960)
Long associated with the University
of Chicago, Gray's work as a pioneer of standardized reading tests and
diagnostic theory has been well-documented. His research in the area of
reading has had far reaching effects; he promoted adult reading and content
area reading as specialties within the reading field. In addition, he
served as the first president of the International Reading Association
and he worked on the famous Dick and Jane basal readers, a classroom standard
20. Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)
Although not in the education
profession nor an allied field, Carnegie influenced education greatly
by his philanthropy. In 1901 he funded the Carnegie Institution of Washington,
a national research institution, as a resource for all universities. In
1905 the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching was founded
and has developed widespread educational standards. The year 1911 brought
Carnegie's "great give away" of $150 million to colleges, universities,
and educational institutions. Today funding from Carnegie's legacy is
even provided to PBS's Sesame Street.
For Additional Information Check These Website Resources:
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, Web Editor
Created: March 2000 / Updated: Saturday,
24 March 2001