The Greatest Teachers

Who are they? Where are they? How can you learn from them?

As a college professor of mine (a classicist, naturally) liked to point out, the greatest minds and the greatest teachers do not necessarily live in our own time.

The classics, in Thucydides’s famous self-appraisal, are possessions for all time. (And not just the Greco-Roman classics, it should be added: the greatest minds are not limited to our own cultural or linguistic traditions, either.)

And then there are the modern classics: the greatest living professors, captured on video and accessible to all. This was the great insight of TED and the MOOC.

In another category are the great teachers who do not give traditional lectures, as exemplified by Khan Academy or +Acumen.

In still another category are the bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, and other influencers who have harnessed the cultural power of the internet to build learning communities (for better or worse).

There are surely other categories, but you get the point: with so many options available, and so many of those for free, shouldn’t that be reason to reevaluate how we choose schools, teachers, and credit-bearing courses?