I’ve got an idea about my next big project a la Capturing the Mode, Pompeii to Paris, and Grandeur & Frivolity.
My idea is still very rough, but it would be about educators: people who have contributed to the overall scope of human learning and knowledge. I’m particularly interested in people who have made it possible for disenfranchised groups to gain access to education.
I have a really quick list of potentials (really quick – I just thought about it for 20 minutes and didn’t do any research), but I would love more suggestions and input. Obviously it would help if the educators had costuming potential, as a bunch of men in suits isn’t that exciting!
Aspasia – achieved education and an independent life in ancient Athens (no easy feat for a woman!) and made her house an intellectual centre, attracting all the main thinkers of the 4th century, including Socrates, whose work she influenced (and I could make a 4th c. male outfit too and have Socrates & Aspasia!)
John Amos Comenius (a man! I know, I would have to make another male outfit!) – advocated universal education in 17th century Europe, and stressed learning outside of books and the classroom. Considered the father of modern education. I could possibly talk about John through his patron, Queen Christina, who was pretty awesomely educated in her own right, or through his almost invisible wife, to give her a voice.
Ninon de l’Enclos – used her charms to support literature and the arts, rather than to accumulate personal wealth and fortune, and created (well, revived) the persona of an intelligent, independent woman who was valued for her wit more than her body. Also gave lots of money to help poorer children (including the future Voltaire) receive educations.
Benjamin Franklin (possibly through Deborah Reed Franklin) – Franklin came from a poor family, who were only able to send him to school for two years. He managed to self-educate by reading every book he could get his hands on, and as a young man helped to found the first public library in America, so that other people who could not afford books or formal schooling would have access to learning.
Mary Wollstonecraft – famously, and influentially (and rightly!), argued that with education women would be every bit as brilliant as men.
Baroness Bertha Marie von Marenholtz-Bülow – advocated for early childhood education in 19th century Europe. Her influence is responsible for the use of creative learning and the arts in primary schools.
Lousia May Alcott (and through her, Thoreau & Emerson) – Alcott’s own educated was influenced by the her parent’s close friends, Thoreau & Emerson who emphasized independent thought and critical thinking over rote memorization in their teaching. Their influence is evident in her writings, in which she also stresses the importance of developing moral character as well as intellectual learning.
So, that’s my totally uncohesive idea list so far. Any suggestions of your own?