Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was the second President of India and served from 1962 to 1967. He is regarded as one of India’s most eminent scholars and wrote extensively on Indian philosophy and religion. Lifelong he defended Hindu traditions and culture against criticism from the West. September 5, his birthday, is observed as Teachers Day in India, in his honour.
A staunch advocate of progressive education and liberalism, the American philosopher and psychologist was the founder of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. John Dewey’s famous writings included The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology and Human Nature and Conduct. According to him, passion for knowledge and intellectual curiosity were central to a teacher. He called himself a democratic socialist.
Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.
Maria Montessori was an Italian educator and physician best known for developing the Montessori method of education, a student-friendly method, which is being used in several public and private schools around the world. In 2020, she was nominated by Time magazine as one of their Top 100 Women of the year.
A prolific author, having written 12 published books and several articles, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, made Keller famous and was adapted for film and stage. She was also an activist and campaigned for women's suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.
Margaret Sanger was an American writer and sex educator. She is credited with popularizing the term birth control. A birth control activist, Sanger established the first birth control clinic in America. She also set up organizations that later became the well-known non-profit organization Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She also played a key role in legalizing contraception in the US.
Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, conductor, arranger, music teacher, and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era. Considered one of the greatest pianists ever, Liszt's works influenced his contemporaries and successors alike. Perhaps his greatest legacy is his work as a teacher, although his rich body of work might suggest otherwise; he taught people like Karl Klindworth among other pianists.
12 Ali Kemal
Activist Emily Davison is remembered for her relentless fight for women’s suffrage. As part of her protest, at the 1913 Epsom Derby, she went in front of King George V’s horse, to attach suffragette flags to it, and was tragically trampled to death. Some regard her as a martyr for women’s causes.
Indian-born British author Anna Leonowens is best remembered for her memoir The English Governess at the Siamese Court, which related her experience as a governess of the children of King Mongkut of Siam. The musical The King and I and the novel Anna and the King of Siam were inspired by her life.
Pierre de Coubertin was a French historian and educator. Credited with founding the International Olympic Committee, Coubertin is often referred to as the father of the modern Olympic Games. Also an important contributor to the sport of rugby union, Coubertin was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007.
A reputed Polish doctor, Henryk Goldszmit was better known by his pseudonym, Janusz Korczak, which he used to write several children’s books. Apart from working as a pediatrician and a military doctor, he also owned a Jewish orphanage and stayed with the children while the Germans deported him and other staff to Treblinka.
24 Emma Willard
Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was an Indian social reformer and educator. He is best remembered for his efforts to modernize and simplify Bengali prose for which he is widely regarded as the father of Bengali prose. As a social reformer, Vidyasagar played a crucial role in enacting the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act, which legalized the remarriage of Hindu widows in India.
28 James Murray
James Murray was a Scottish philologist and lexicographer. He is best remembered as the main editor of the famous Oxford English Dictionary from 1879 until his demise in 1915. Murray's contribution to the dictionary and his collaboration with lexicographical researcher William Chester Minor inspired the 2019 film The Professor and the Madman, where the former was portrayed by Mel Gibson.
Daniel Hale Williams was a general surgeon known for performing the first documented, successful pericardium surgery in the US in 1893. Born to interracial parents, he faced numerous struggles in his journey to become a physician. He later founded the first non-segregated hospital in the United States, Chicago's Provident Hospital. He also founded a nursing school for African Americans.
Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and educator Lucila Godoy Alcayaga was better known by her pseudonym, Gabriela Mistral. The suicide of her first love inspired her poem Dolor. Her diplomatic assignments later took her to places such as Madrid and Lisbon. She is remembered for her emotional verses and her feminism.
After losing her husband and children in a yellow fever epidemic and her dress shop in the great Chicago fire, schoolteacher and dressmaker Mary Harris Jones became an activist, earning the nickname Mother Jones. A prominent unionist for coal miners and other workers, she also co-founded the Social Democratic Party.
Selma Lagerlöf was a Swedish teacher and author. In 1909, Lagerlöf became the first woman to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1914, she became the first woman to be elected as a member by the Swedish Academy. In 1991, Selma Lagerlöf was depicted on a Swedish banknote, becoming the first woman to enjoy this honor, albiet posthumously.
34 W. C. Handy
Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi was a German mathematician best remembered for his contributions to differential equations, dynamics, number theory, determinants, and elliptic functions. He is the first Jewish mathematician to work as a professor at a German university. Jacobi has a crater on the Moon named after him in recognition of his contribution to science.
36 John McCrae
Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.
37 Cesar Franck
Cesar Franck was a Belgian-born French Romantic composer, organist, pianist, and music teacher. Franck, who worked in Paris, is credited with popularizing new instruments made by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll all over France. From 1858 until his death in 1890, Franck also served as an organist at the Basilica of Saint Clotilde in Paris. Franck also taught future composers like Vincent d'Indy.
39 Max Bruch
Max Bruch composed his first song at 9 for his mother’s birthday and then earned a scholarship after creating a symphony at the tender age of 14. He worked extensively with the choral societies of Germany and is remembered for his iconic Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor.
American astronomer, naval officer, oceanographer and author Matthew Fontaine Maury, who first served the United States Navy and then the Confederacy States Navy, made significant contributions in oceanography. His book Physical Geography of the Sea is counted among the first comprehensive books on oceanography. Navies and merchant marines across the world adopted his uniform system of recording oceanographic data.
Madan Mohan Malaviya was an Indian educational reformer and politician. He is best remembered for playing an important role in India's freedom struggle. He served as the president of the Indian National Congress on three occasions and founded a political party named Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. He also co-founded Central Hindu College and worked towards promoting modern education in India.
44 Carl Czerny
Carl Czerny was an Austrian composer, pianist, and teacher of Czech origin. Born into a musical family, he started playing the piano as a toddler and began composing at the age of seven. He was prolific in his music production and composed over a thousand works, with his music spanning the late Classical and early Romantic eras.
Apart from being the first president of West Germany, Theodor Heuss, the Free Democratic Party leader, also framed the new constitution of West Germany after World War II. Previously, he was a political journalist and was targeted by Hitler. Even his books were burned for being against German interests.
Charles Freer Andrews was a Christian missionary and Anglican priest. He was also an educator and social reformer. A close friend of Indian freedom fighters Rabindranath Tagore and Mahatma Gandhi, he supported the Indian struggle for independence. Gandhi fondly called him Deenabandhu, or "Friend of the Poor". Even today, Andrews is widely respected in India.