The twin volumes Fifty Major Thinkers on Education: From Confucius to Dewey and Fifty Modern Thinkers on Education: From Piaget to the Present are together intended to provide a valuable and fascinating resource for readers with an interest in 'influential lives' relating to critical thinking, action, and in more recent times research, which has influenced policy and practice in the field of education. As a pair, the two volumes consider influences upon educational thought and practice from the very earliest times through to the present day. In the first volume we examine the lives and influence of fifty individuals from the time of Confucius to the era of Dewey. The second volume continues where the first ceases, examining the contribution of a further fifty individuals from the time of Piaget to the present.
Each volume and each essay within it follows a common format. An opening quotation sets the scene at the start of each essay. Then, readers are provided with an overview of the subject's work and basic biographical information. Each author then engages in critical reflection which aims to illuminate the influence, importance and perhaps innovative character of the subject's thinking and, where appropriate, research and actions. In other words, authors have moved beyond the purely descriptive and have provided a discussion of the nature of the intellectual or practical impact that the life, thinking and works of each figure made or is making upon our understanding or practice of education.
At the end of each essay, we have provided information that will lead interested readers into further and more detailed study. Firstly, there are the references for the notes to which the numbers in the text refer; secondly there is a cross-referencing with other subjects in the two books whose thought or influence relates in some obvious way to that of the subject of the essay; thirdly there is a list of the subject's major writings (where applicable); and finally, there is a list of references for those who wish to pursue more indepth reading on the subject.
By far the hardest task in assembling these volumes was deciding on the final list of 100 thinkers on education to be included. How can one begin, in a field so extensive as education, to select 100 individuals from over 2,000 years of thought? Inevitably, my advisory editors and I were inundated with suggestions and ideas for influential people who, for the obvious reason of lack of space, had to be left out. The 100 subjects finally decided upon include some very obvious 'great names' such as Plato, John Dewey and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, alongside some less well-known yet clearly