Women as Role Models in the Field of Education

My first teacher

Can you still remember your first teacher? This is the question I asked, out of curiosity, to my students who are now nineteen years old. I continued the inquiry by conducting a little survey whose results are presented below:

The result of the survey

Clearly, most of them had the door to education opened by female teachers. Actually, it comes as no surprise as women constitute the main educating force in society, especially at the earliest stages of education. Patiently leading kids step by step through the educational process, a lot of them naturally become role models for their little students.

Female Educators on Europeana

The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist’.

“The Absorbent Mind” by Maria Montessori, Ch. 27, (p. 283), 1949.

This is the recipe for becoming a successful teacher provided by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and educator whose teaching method is still used by many schools all over the world. Based on hands-on activities and collaborative play, the method allows children to make their own creative choices studying through experiencing and at their own pace, while the teacher takes the role of the guide. Isn’t it what we, contemporary educators, are searching for in the classroom?

The highest result of education is tolerance.

Hellen Keller

The above words take on a special meaning as they were said by Helen Keller, a deaf-blind American author, educator and advocate for the disabled people. Having suffered from a severe illness before she turned two, Helen Keller lost both her sight and hearing. Thus, she communicated with the people around her by using home signs until she met, at the age of seven, her first teacher, Anne Sullivan, who was visually impaired herself. Sullivan taught Helen to read and write through a long and painful process that became a basis for the film The Miracle Worker. Helen’s first lesson was devoted to learning how to spell the word ‘doll’ – a gift Anne brought for the girl, and can be seen in this video. The relationship between the two and the success they achieved seem to be best portrayed by Helen’s quote: ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’ Definitely it is the key to success in education.

We must remember that we have not inherited this planet from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children.

Jane Goodall

Europeana also offers interesting materials presenting Jane Goodall, the best known expert on chimpanzees and the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute. The animal lover educates people by claiming that every individual makes a difference and everything we do impacts the world every day and so we have to learn to live in harmony with nature. Why don’t you watch the video entitled Jane’s Journey available on Europeana to learn more about Jane Goodall’s philosophy?

They cannot stop me. I will get my education, if it is in the home, school, or anyplace.

Malala Yousafzai

When focusing on female educators, it is hard not to mention Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist and the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner. Being only seventeen at the time, she was the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Who can understand the value of education better than the young person eager to learn who was deprived of the right to attend school and, because of her activist engagement, had to face death threats including an attempted murder? Who can educate better than a person with such experience?

March, with its focal point falling on 8th  International Women’s Day, is the month when we appreciate women’s role in society. Let’s celebrate by mentioning the female educators’ great achievements.

If you are looking for interesting learning scenarios related to the topic of women, you can check out the following:

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