Pioneers of Education

This week the people of Utah celebrated Pioneer Day.  While this day primarily focuses on those who pioneered the trail to the western United States, it also represents a great time to consider the sacrifices and innovations made by pioneers of other fields.  Specifically, this week we wanted to discuss some pioneers in the field of education.

Horace Mann

Growing up, Horace Mann experienced a sporadic education conducted by poorly trained teachers.  Despite these road blocks he utilized his local library, eventually proving enough academic success to attend and graduate from Brown University.  He then went on to graduate from Law School.  Due to his poor educational experience, Mann became very active in promoting public education in the United States.  He was one of the first to promote free, professional education for all people and helped to pioneer these opportunities.

Margaret Bancroft

Margaret Bancroft is the woman we have to thank for Special Education opportunities.  At the age of 29, Bancroft started The Haddonfield School for the Mentally Deficient and Peculiarly Backward in 1883.  This establishment’s name was changed in 1904 to the Bancroft Training School.  The purpose of it was to provide children with disabilities an opportunity to get an education at their pace based on their needs.  This was an incredible new idea that provided all people an opportunity to learn and progress, regardless of perceived deficiencies.

Booker T Washington

Having experienced the power of gaining an education first hand, Booker T Washington, who had been born a slave, fought hard for chances for African-Americans to gain equal educational opportunities.  He went to school at the Hampton Normal Agricultural Institute in Virginia and studied to become a teacher.  He eventually helped to start the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later renamed Tuskegee University) which became the first African-American school in the country.  He made huge steps in the equal education of African-Americans and is considered to be a pioneer in providing such opportunities.

John Holt

Through his own teaching experiences, John Holt began to feel that compulsory, in classroom learning destroyed a child’s innate curiosity and love of learning, replacing it with fear and a desire to please rather than learn.  He believed that the best learning occurred outside of the classroom, specifically in the home.  In the late 1970s and early 80s, Holt began to lead a newly blossoming homeschooling movement encouraging parents to teach their children at home, rather than send them into public education.

Howard Gardner

In the mid-1990s Howard Gardner, a psychologist, developed a new, educational theory entitled The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.  This theory argues that intelligence, rather than being measured based on problem solving ability, ought to be separated into several different areas of intelligence, including linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, special, interpersonal, and intrapersonal intelligences.  This encouraged teachers to diversify their teaching strategies based on student learning styles and strengths.  His continued influence is still making huge impact on education today.