Who inspires the world’s best teachers?
Most people can reflect on their schooling and think of one educator who made a significant difference in their lives.
To mark Australia’s celebration of World Teachers' Day, we asked two of the world’s best teachers to share with readers the educator who inspired them most when they were a student.
Global Teacher Prize winner for 2017 Maggie MacDonnell shares the story of an adult educator who continues to inspire her daily. Ken Silburn, who was the only Australian educator amongst the $1 million prize’s coveted final 10, shares the story of a music teacher who had the greatest influence on his passion for education.
Maggie MacDonnell is an educator who works in a remote fly-in Inuit village in the Canadian arctic. In March 2017, she was named the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, receiving US $1 million in prize money.
‘I think the educator that most inspired me, and I never got to be taught by him directly, but he was a man named Dr Moses Coady. He was an adult educator and a community development leader. He was originally from my province and he did so much work… There’s now an institution named after him called the Coady International Institute and I was a fellow there for one year... I did an internship and I also went back to take courses there.
‘The saying that gives me the most inspiration or I try to live up to is, he would say “as teachers your job is to ensure that your students are masters of their own destiny”. And that’s what inspires me, just to think, what does that look like?
‘As a teacher, how do we ensure that young people get to write their own futures? And I think I look to him a lot and the work that he did in working with adult learners mainly, as well as young learners. He’s my source of inspiration.’
Dr Ken Silburn
Casula High School science teacher Dr Ken Silburn was the only Australian educator to make the Global Teacher Prize 2017 final 10. In 2015, Silburn was named winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary Science Teaching.
‘I was fortunate to have many teachers that added positively to my childhood and teenage years. Amongst the many teachers who inspired me, one teacher in particular stood out. Mr Fraser (Bill Fraser), my music teacher and school band master. Although I eventually found my passion in science, it was Mr Fraser who had the greatest influence on my passion for education.
‘Mr Fraser would be at school every morning one hour before school to give tuition to eager students. And when a student did not demonstrate an expertise, he made sure that there was always someone there to provide guidance and support.
‘But this was not only how he showed his dedication to education, it was his ability to inspire his students and instil within them the knowledge that they could achieve anything they set their minds to. His music rooms were constantly in demand at recess and lunch times, not only for music practice, but as a stimulating and secure learning environment.
‘Bill Fraser had the way of ensuring that you wanted to achieve. Even after graduating from school, Mr Fraser wanted to know and hear of our successes and was always eager to hear of his past students’ successes. Mr Fraser passed away last year. As a mark of respect for his legacy, many of his past students from the past 30 years attended his remembrance service.’
Who was the teacher who inspired you most? As an educator or school leader, who inspires you now? Readers are invited to share their stories and reflections by leaving comments below or emailing the Teacher team.