It could be said that the greatest teachers in history are fairly unrecognizable by name. I believe that this is testament to their ability as a teacher; the ability to pass on all the credit of learning to the person being taught. Here we look at five people – admittedly, some with names more recognizable than others – who have had a huge impact on their students.
An Australian man who has now been immortalized by the hugely successful movie ‘The King’s Speech’, Lionel Logue was the man credited with helping to alleviate the infamous speech impediment of King George VI. Logue deserves recognition for treating the King as he would any other patient, and it is often said that this approach is what proved to be such an effective treatment of the King’s stammer. Logue was masterful at building proper relationships with his students, as he found that this was the only way to communicate on a deep level.
One of the most important founding figures of western philosophy and an influence on nearly all the areas of human knowledge, Aristotle is a name synonymous with wisdom, learning, and of course, teaching. A student of the great Plato, and hand-picked to be the private tutor of Alexander the Great, his methods were obviously widely respected. Anyone who is still credited and quoted nearly 2,500 after his death and chosen to teach the man who, just fourteen years after his tutorship, went on to run one of the largest ever ancient Empires deserves their place on this list.
Perhaps not a name too familiar with anyone outside of the acting world, Lee Strasberg is still hugely deserving of a place on this list. With a list of clients to make your eyes water (think Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, James Dean, Al Pacino, Marilyn Monroe, Robert De Niro and all the rest), Lee was responsible for finding acting talent in some of the most famous Hollywood stars of all time. If he hadn’t died in 1982 and he taught you how to act, the chances are you would be famous. As a teacher and absolute authority in the field of acting, he was that good.
Much like Lee Strasberg, the work of Katie Agresta would have contributed more to your consumption and enjoyment of modern popular culture than you might be comfortable with. Whereas Lee was responsible for filmstars, Katie made singers. With a client roster as diverse and awe-inspiring as the likes of: Annie Lennox, Lenny Kravitz, Meatloaf, Mick taylor, Brian Johnson, Papa Roach, Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper, Jon Bon Jovi, Carole King and Steven Tyler, it is hard to think of a musical genre, musician – or person – that Katie can’t work with. Including you.
James Webb Young
An advertising executive who had his hey-day in the mid-20th century, it is probably fair to say that James Webb Young found fame as one of the greatest teachers in his field by accident. His book, A Technique for Producing Ideas, was published in 1965 and has since gone on to become the bible of anyone working in the creative industries. The clarity with which he outlined his 5-step procedure to coming up with new ideas has resonated with audiences for nearly six decades. Okay, so James never taught per se, but if someone’s teachings have had such an impact on a particular industry; it would be foolish to suggest that he wasn’t a teacher.