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Mentors from the past

Statesman News Service |

Teachers are considered as mentors and the source of knowledge. They are our friend, philosopher and guide. There have been many renowned teachers across the world. Let us turn back the pages of history for another look

Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray: Born in Khulna district of Bangladesh, P.C. Ray was a notable and excellent teacher. He also invented Mercurous Nitrite. Eminent scientists like Satyendranath Bose, Meghnad Saha, J C Ghosh and J.N Mukherjee were all Ray’s students. As a teacher, Ray played a pivotal role in delivering India and also the world with the next batch of scientific scholars. He also contributed most of his salary during his tenure as a professor in Calcutta University for good research prospects of his students.

Chanakya: Chanakya was one of the greatest teachers in Indian history. His ‘Arthashastra’ and ‘Chankya-Niti’ are two of the most accomplished books. He was a pioneer in the field of Political Science and Economics in ancient India, and played an important role in educating people. It was he who spread the idea of education among the people

Aryabhatta: Among others, Aryabhatta was also a great Indian mathematician and astronomer. It is predicted that he might have been the head of Nalanda University. It was he who discovered arithmetic, algebra, plane trigonometry, quadratic equations. Besides, he was an extraordinary teacher and a man with immense knowledge.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan: It’s his birthday that is celebrated as Teacher’s Day in our country since 1962. He was one of the most accomplished teachers of our country who believed in ‘spiritual education’ and was very friendly with all his students. He began his teaching career at the Madras Presidency College. He then became a professor of Philosophy at the University of Mysore. He was the second president of India and a proud recipient of India’s highest Civilian award- ‘Bharat Ratna’. His teachings were an inspiration for the whole country and he was indeed a legendary teacher.

Anne Sullivan: Born in the United States, Anne Sullivan had a pivotal role to play in Helen Killer’s life. She was herself partly blind and had to face very much the similar problems like Killer. She made Helen spell out words and was her main pillar of support. 

She was who suggested Helen to be taken to the Perkin’s School in Boston and was her companion till her death in 1936. Most importantly, she made Helen look at this world from a completely different point of view and indeed holds immense importance in her life.

Aristotle: a Greek scholar was one of the highlighted teachers in history. His endless knowledge and optimistic approach towards life is known to all. He once said that it is the teachers who actually make people acquainted with art of living and make them attain success in life.

Maria Montessori: Through centuries, there have been different kinds of approaches towards education. While people have stressed to vigorous lessons and exams Maria Montessori found out a totally different way to make children learn things. Born in 1870, she was the founder of the school that we now know as Montessori. Born in Italy she was herself an accomplished physician, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and a highly intellectual yet down-to-earth person. According to her, it’s the children who teach themselves; learn new things by making mistakes and learn from nature.

William McGuffey: Born in the U.S.A, William McGuffey had tremendous contribution in framing the current textbooks that we read. There was a time when people preferred reading only from the Bible and other religious texts. It was McGuffey who started this system and his readers, known as ‘eclectic readers’ set a template for textbooks that we still follow today. He was himself an adept student and was a Professor of Languages in Miami University, Ohio.

Emma Willard: Born in the United States of America, it was Emma Willard who carried women’s higher education forward in her country. At a time, when men dominated higher studies and there was no place for women’s higher education it was Emma Willard who was the light bearer. She, not satisfied with this aspect, herself founded the Troy Female Seminary in the town of Troy, New York, the first site of female higher education. Soon, wealthy people started sending their daughter for higher education and Emma’s efforts attained partial-success. Still, lot was left to be achieved and she wrote textbooks on geography and American history. In fact, she was fondly called ‘The daughter of democracy’. Her school in Troy still exists but with a different name-Emma Willard School.

Jaime Escalante: Born and brought up in Bolivia, James Escalante was a notable figure in the world. Known for his huge fame as a strict and successful teacher, Escalante migrated to the USA in his mid-30s. A book has been written in his honour – ‘Best teacher in America’ and also a movie has been made, named -‘Stand and Deliver’. He himself was an excellent student and primarily was a teacher of mathematics. He taught in Garfield School, Los Angeles where he introduced a tough curriculum for maths which first faced resistance from students but gradually came to be accepted. He would give special lessons on calculus as his pet project was to make students pass in the College Board’s AP Calculus test. His hard efforts made Garfield school popular all over the U.S and he himself found fame as one of the most accomplished teachers in history.

(Coordinator, Class X, Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School)