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10 Life Lessons From Famous Educators

Great teachers don’t just educate us on one particular subject; they inspire our emotional and intellectual growth, too. Some of the greatest minds in the world, from Stephen Hawking to Bill Gates, have credited teachers with igniting their passion and curiosity for learning.

Albert Einstein once said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken the joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Indeed, some of the richest wisdom we glean throughout our lives comes from those who educate us. Whether it’s the insight from a favorite high school English teacher, the sage advice of a college professor, or the guidance provided by any number of other mentors we encounter, the wise words from these beloved instructors often stay with us for the rest of our lives.

These 10 quotes from famous educators encourage us to reflect on the teachers who’ve inspired us and the ways in which we’ve passed on their teachings to others.

The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.
Maria Montessori

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Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator who formulated a philosophy of education based on the way children naturally learn. In 1907, she opened her first educational center, Casa dei Bambini (Children’s House), in Rome, and today there are more than 15,000 Montessori schools around the world.

No matter what happens, keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you find that you have accomplished a purpose — not the one you began with, perhaps, but one that you will be glad to remember.
Anne Sullivan

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Anne Sullivan, dubbed a “miracle worker” by none other than Mark Twain, is best known as Helen Keller’s teacher and mentor. She’s considered a pioneer of educating students with disabilities.

I touch the future, I teach.
Christa McAuliffe

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Christa McAuliffe was an American social studies teacher from New Hampshire. In 1985, she was selected from more than 11,000 applicants for the NASA Teacher in Space Project. She was slated to become the first civilian in space, but unfortunately, the entire crew of the space shuttle Challenger perished along with the spacecraft on January 28, 1986, before that plan could come to fruition.

The purpose of the university is nothing less than to procure a moral, intellectual, and spiritual revolution throughout the world.
Robert Maynard Hutchins

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As an educator and administrator, Robert Maynard Hutchins was a vocal proponent of liberal education for more than 50 years. He served as president and then chancellor of the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1951.

Sit idle no more, go, get education / End misery of oppressed and forsaken, / You’ve got a golden chance to learn.
Savitribai Phule

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Savitribai Phule was an Indian social reformer, educator, and poet. She was instrumental in establishing access to education for women in India and is recognized as India’s first woman teacher.

In the end, educators best serve students by helping them be more self-reflective. The only way any of us can improve … is if we develop a real ability to assess ourselves.
Randy Pausch

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Randy Pausch was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Shortly after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, he delivered an inspiring and witty lecture to an auditorium packed with CMU students and staff members. His lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” was shared around the world and eventually adapted into a New York Times bestselling book, The Last Lecture.

Recognize your impact regardless of your intent. Say, “I’m sorry,” mean it, and be better. It’s that simple.
Mandy Manning

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Mandy Manning was named the 2018 National Teacher of the Year. As an English teacher to immigrant and refugee students, she uses experiential projects to help students process their trauma and celebrate their cultures.

Education is not preparation for life, it is life.
John Dewey

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American professor and philosopher John Dewey was a prominent early 20th-century scholar and one of the founders of the pragmatic philosophical movement.

Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.
Rita F. Pierson

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Rita Pierson was an educator and anti-poverty advocate who was passionately committed to helping underserved and marginalized students. Her 2013 TED Talk was deemed “a rousing call to educators.”

Accept that you are going to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
Ron Clark

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American educator and New York Times bestselling author Ron Clark received Disney’s American Teacher of the Year award in 2000. Along with fellow Disney American Teacher Award recipient Kim Bearden, he co-founded the Ron Clark Academy, a nonprofit middle school and professional development facility located in Atlanta, Georgia.

Featured image credit: Space Frontiers/ Archive Photos via Getty Images

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About the Author
Kristina Wright
Kristina is a coffee-fueled writer living happily ever after with her family in the suburbs of Richmond, Virginia.
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