Fifty Major thinkers, I think not...
In any amalgamation there will be bias, that I understand. One can, however, and (with any `scholarly' undertaking) one should take the greatest care to ensure that the balance of both recorded history and folklore - what one might, borrowing from Lyotard refer to as both the grand and petit récits - aim to assimilate data from both realms and thus ensure the integrity of the project. In short that any publication follows the code of ethical conduct laid down by the Academe.
Whilst I am hardly an advocate of the fiasco that is `affirmative' action (far from it) and whilst I understand that there are a few voices in the history of education that resonate louder than others and thus perhaps deserve inclusion in such a volume as this, I too am aware of what frames that belief.
To be succinct, however we define our parameters, whatever we input as being the variables will determine the output. Thus, however you define the terms `major thinkers' and `education' will colour whom you eventually elect to the podium. Now, to back-track a little, unless you release your terms for scrutiny, we, the reader have no knowledge as to how you arrived at your list. Secondly, whilst there will likely be a difference of opinion if one looks to rank individuals within a particular discipline, here they are arranged chronologically and therefore save us from that bickering. So, all we are dealing with here is a list of influential educators spanning geography, time, space and culture from a period when the historic record was begun until (in this case the early `70s).
My critique of this text, a critique which thus arguably renders it useless and unscholarly is essentially a two or threefold attack.
Firstly, in the chronology, arriving at number five and occupying five pages of this text (as much as Socrates and more than Plato) is a FICTIONAL character - one `Jesus of Nazareth.' Let us state quite clearly in no uncertain terms that the Historical Jesus, he of the christian bible fame, was NOT a `real' person who actually lived the life recorded in the greatest work of fiction, that is the christian bible. He was a metaphorical/allegorical individual, a mythical figure. The historic record has no record of this man which is `supposed' to have performed miracles. That is a FACT. So quite why the pedagogical credentials of say, Mickey Mouse, Woody-Woodpecker, Felix the Cat or Buzz Lightyear - or indeed any other fictional character you care to name, are also not included in a faux scholarly work such as this published be a very respected publisher (Routledge) is beyond me.
Secondly, to reiterate, I am no `revisionist' nor am I an advocate or `affirmative' action or any other such discriminatory behaviour, I am, however, a profesional educator who wishes to see the truth explored as fully as possible, and that means truthS in the postmodern sense (plural) not the modern sense (singular). I wish to see the history of eduction and the influential figures therein be examined as widely as possible - not because I wish to make the end list a multi-cultural melangé of pseudo enlightenment and harmony, no, because instead I want the record to be as accurate as possible. Given that aim, then, how can it be possible to derive the data which I have cited below? It clearly would not be possible, that is, not unless you set the original parameters for the equation to ensure the end result would produce this white, misogynistic Euro-centric sham.
I really am surprised that Routledge (in 2001) would actually publish such a biased list - a list that totally detracts from any sense of authenticity and validity that might otherwise pervade. Now, you might argue that this REALLY is the list, that they scoured all continents, all nations, all languages and creoles, all genders and all belief systems and philosophies to make this list, but that is simply not the case. Just take a look through the index and you will immediately see that to be a fallacy. What they have published instead is the same-old, sam-old, white, male, first-world - largely Euro-centric, middle-class fluff, that doesn't even come close to offering us a list of genuine great thinkers in education. Shame on you Routledge and shame on you Professor Palmer (ed.)
Contents by nation and gender:
(iii) Greece iii
(ii) Spain ii
(xiv) England iiiiiiiiiiiiii
(ii) Switzerland ii
(vii) Germany iiiiiii
(iii) Austria iii
(ii) France ii
(vi) USA iiiiii
(i) Puerto Rico
(ii) India ii
Females iiiii (v)
Males iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iiiii iii (xxxxiv)