The 50 Most Influential People in Education – Part 3

Back in 2011, The Irish Times published a list, which they deemed to be the 50 most influential people in education. I’ve been profiling them now for a while, and I’ve already done the top 10 numbers, 11 to 20, and now it’s time for numbers. 21 to 30. Let’s see, who’s made the list and let me know what you think on

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Hello. You're welcome to if I were the minister for education from The 50 most influential people in education. Where are they now? Part three. Back in 2011. The Irish times published a list, which they deemed to be the 50 most influential people in education. I've been profiling them now for a while, and I've already done the top 10 numbers, 11 to 20, and now it's time for numbers. 21 to 30. Let's see, who's made the list and let me know what you think on, Hello, hello. You're welcome to if I were the minister for education, a podcast where I delve into the world of primary education and, what I would do if I were the minister for education, this is Simon Lewis. I have been looking at an article from the Irish times that was actually published way back in 2011 when I don't know what the reason was, but they decided to profile the 50 most influential people in education at that time. And 12 years on I'm looking at that list and I'm going through each of the people that were on that list and noticing different patterns and noticing different things about them. But most importantly is whether they would still be influential today, 12 years later. So I'm going to go through the list as I did last time. If you are interested, in looking at numbers, one to 20, those are on the podcast list. You can see them on Or you can look at the show notes on my medium profile, which is But everything you can do, everything you need will be on, If you like this podcast or any previous podcasts, you can subscribe to my newsletter out, where you can find out my latest endeavors in the world of analyzing primary education. So let's get on to number 21. Who is Brian Mooney, a person who you are probably familiar with, if you've any interest whatsoever in education, because This man is still very much around and very much working away. I've actually been doing some work with Brian for the last couple of years with the education matters, your book, where he is the editor, but back in 2011, he was being hailed by the Irish times who he has been writing for as hugely knowledgeable about all aspects of the education system. Brian is a guidance counselor, but also a regular contributor to the media and from working with them. I know what the Irish time says is true. However, the article seemed to imply he was being touted for an advisory role, similar to the one that John Walsh had in 2011. And you can hear my. Thoughts on that a couple of episodes back. But looking at his LinkedIn page app, because this is where I found as some information about him. It didn't seem that that actually happened. So, what do you make the list now? It's a tricky question to answer because in a quiet way, I think he would, the education matters. Yearbook may not be a book that every teacher in the country knows about. But it is by far the definitive guide to the topics that all teachers do need to be aware about. And as the editor of that journal. I think he does. He certainly deserves. His place on the list because I still think he has his finger on the pulse. Number 22. The standing committee or executive of the ASTI. Now, if you are just seeing this now, or if you're just reading this now, if you're just listening to this, now you probably wonder what the heck this bunch of people are doing on the list. This group is one of two second level equivalents of the CEC reps that you'd be used to seeing if you're a primary school teacher. The ASTI are one of the three teacher unions out there. And they are the ones that the media portray as being in quotes up for a fight. And aren't we lucky to have them in this new world where all of the unions have come together under the umbrella of the Irish Congress of trade unions, the ICTU. Which essentially advertises itself as giving workers a stronger voice. But in reality, I believe it weakens individual unions influences. Now we've seen how the INTO for example, cause that's the one that we be focusing on. We've seen how. It's voice has really become very quiet in the last 10 years or so. And we sold this, especially after the huge cuts during the recession back in 2008, 2009 and beyond. And the teaching unions inability to step up and fight more strongly for teachers. When, when we were, when they were talking for rights at the time, It was it was kind of interesting because the ICTU, you could have brings all of the unions together. The I NTO seemed to be quite weak or had became weakened because they weren't able to really fight for teachers, particularly because they were kind of falling in line with general rights of the ICTU. And even when we vote something down as teachers, if the other unions vote in favor, often our vote means nothing. And of all the teaching unions out there, the AST I are a bit different. They dragged their heels against the conservatism of the politically minded ICTU leaders. And they're often branded as pariahs because they go against the grain. Unfortunately for them, they eventually fall in line with the risk when the risk of members jumping over to other second level unions becomes too great, which I think I've seen a little bit. If the, ASTI kind of do actually threatened to go on strike. A lot of their members jump ship and go to the TUI who are a little bit more conservative. And obviously being a numbers game and you're, you're, you're only as good as your membership. The ASTI. Some had sometimes just have to bow down to the pressure, I guess now. I mean, they may argue that. I think the ASTI though are the closest we have to a functioning trade union in education, and we could take a few leaves out of their book. I think the INTO and the TUI would do well to maybe, and I know he's presume a lot of the other unions. Would do well to come away from this ICTU cartel more assets, I suppose. That's probably the, I dunno if that's the right word. But in my view, I think we, the unions need to battle for themselves and for their own members. What I understand. Smaller unions would do benefit from the ICTU. The bigger unions, find them, find their voices kind of. I suppose, shut down so much out or certainly quietens. Now, would they make the list now? The ASTI, what a primary level, their main function is to show us what we could be if we had less apathy. And when it comes to any collective bargaining or any campaigning, I feel the. I asked ASTI have always been the strongest in terms of getting their voice into the media. And whether or not, I agree with them a hundred percent of the time they've passion and, you know, that's what I kind of admire about them. And whether that's enough to make a list in 2023, over the INTO CEC reps is improbable. And the only reason to put them here instead of the, I N T O will be to demonstrate how insignificant the I N T O is. I don't think either would make my list in 2023. Let's go add to number 23 in 2023, or it was 2011. Sean Roland. At the Irish times asked if Sean Roland was the future of Irish education in 2011 and in their very, very short profile piece, they lauded him for creating a private teacher training college. And their main praise is that it will cost the taxpayer no money, rather than it benefiting the education system. Now fast forward, another decade or so on Hibernia college was sold to a textbook publishing company. And it's €9,000 tuition fee has doubled and it's still making profits. Because that's all that matters to the Irish times is profit. From my point of view. I can't say very much. I recorded an episode of the podcast about private teacher training colleges, and I've never been more careful in my life about what I had to say about them. And that should be enough to tell you what you need to know. If you are interested in hearing my thoughts and they are very guarded, you can listen to episode 53 of if I were the minister for education, which was called scrap private teacher training colleges. I think that should sort of suffice now would Sean Roland's make the list now? Well, once he sold Hibernia college, his impact of primary education was no more. However, if this were a history of the education system and the people that shaped it, He would certainly be up there as one of the most influential. Number 24. Paul Rowe. I often refer to Paul Rowe. As my second dad or the uncle I never had because I owe much of my life. To them to be perfectly honest to me. Paul took on the foundations set by, Áine Hyland and the other founders of educate together. I'm built one of the most important education systems in the country. He managed to infiltrate the education system as an outsider with a simple core belief. Equality. Whatever small amount of diversity we have in our education system, a primary level. I believe we owe a lot of it to him. He demonstrated that despite fierce opposition from the status quo slowly, but surely, you can win them over with a little bit of look at it in for good measure. In 2011, educate together was India sent. We finally had a minister for education who saw the benefits of equality based education. And we had an acknowledgement from the head of the Catholic church in Ireland. The things needed to change. Unfortunately, once we're required, left the position of education and is partially moved away from its center left position. Paul found himself leading educate together in a new reality where the economy became more important than equality. The Castlebar divestment in 2016 was a massive turning point for me. I've put a link in the show notes to an article on it shows a picture of the school house that educate together. We're supposed to add, move into in Castlebar back in 2016, 2017. I called it a symbol of the divestment process back then. Well, Paul did after that was, he saw that, you know, the, there was a bit of a turn out, a bit of a turning point that educate together weren't to be flavor of the month. With flavor of the, at all. And we also saw that the community national schools were starting to be given schools. So the first one was in county Kerry where educate together. Weren't even a part of the process. Paul switched his attention to expand and educate together into the UK to ensure the organization remains sustainable. One of the things that educate together. I suppose all education providers rely on his state funding and what Paul, I guess. I saw was they, he needed we needed as a, as an organization, educate together needed to be sustainable. Even if the government were stopped, the funding, which was always going to be a threat. If you didn't play ball. There's currently four educate together schools in the Southwest of England. On a personal level. I adore Paul, like I would a dad like a second dad. And from the minute we first spoke, when I helped to organize a public meeting with a view to opening, educate together school in Carlow, he's really been one of the most important figures in my career. What do you make the list today? Similarly to Sean rowlands when the history of the education system is written, Paul wrote will be put near the top of the list. Even after retirement, he was hoping to harness the power of technology to spread the mission of equality and education internationally. And despite all the resistance from the status quo, he still hasn't lost his faith in that vision. Number 25. The Finnish model. Back in 2011, the Finnish miracle was all the rage. Thanks to good government policy of actually funding education properly, and a charismatic thought leader called Dr. Pasi Sahlberg to be fair, it is his name. That should be the header, not the Finnish model. Sahlberg address many conferences, including the best IPPN conference in memory. As we all aspire to learn lessons from the most successful education system in the world. Over a decade later while the fins are no longer the best in the world in education, we never really did learn from what they did well. In fact, the same year of this list, we potentially put a nail in the coffin for the system, for the education system, with the literacy and numeracy strategy, which forced to schools to publish their standardized test results to the department of education. The minister at the time, insisted that these results would not be used for anything other than statistical purposes. But in 2017, they began to be used to allocate resources to schools. It is only a matter of time before they are used for league tables. And rather than learning from the Finns, we completely ignored them. And we are seeing the results of that, particularly for children with additional needs. What the finished model make the list today. I still think we've a lot to learn from the finished education system. And in fact, I wrote a podcast about it last year. It's called lessons from Finland and it's in two parts and you can find that on, I have a, probably have Pasi Sahlberg as a person on their list rather than the system. So rather than the Finnish model being there, I would oppose Pasi Sahlberg and I would keep him on the list. Number 26. Professor Des Fitzgerald. The Irish times made a point of saying he was the highest paid academic in Ireland in 2011. And according to my internet searching, he was in the news for financial related reasons in more recent times. He had no role at all in primary education. So what do you make the list now? As with many of these university-based people on the list, he wouldn't then any wouldn't now, because this is a primary school relation podcast. Let's move on Tom Collins. Number 27. I'll be honest. I'd never heard of this man. But his writeup in the article was glowing. He was considered to be one of the most popular people in education. And it's kind of weird since I've written this article, I've heard a couple of people talking about him in St. Pat's and I had absolutely loved him because he used to do some of the inspections for primary school as a teacher training people. And it's kind of interesting because I, as I said, I'd never heard the name before, but since then a couple of people have gone about, oh God, Tom Collins. Oh, he was brilliant. He was absolutely brand new as a gentlemen and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I didn't train in St. Pats. So that's possibly why I hadn't heard of him. But at this time of writing, he had been moving. He was about to move to Bahrain, but he's since returned. And he's now chair of the Dublin Institute of technology DIT for the last 11 years. Would you make the list? No. I don't know if he would know, because he's now not involved in primary education. He may have done, obviously may have done back in 2011, but I don't think he would do now. Number 28, Peter Mullen. I must admit, I was kind of surprised to see Peter's name on the list. But in another way. I wasn't to me, Peter represented the last real trade unionists in the I N T O at a high level. I know there's lots of trade unions now, but they're not just. The very high levels of Peter reached. He was never too busy to talk to any member of the union, no matter where they were in the country. He edited the INTO's in touch magazine. Arguably the last time it was relevant, he was a brilliant spokesperson for the union. And you always knew you could rely on him to speak up for teachers. Surprisingly, there's very little on the internet about Peter Muller now, and I believe he has retired. What do you make the list now? Unfortunately while I'm sure Peter was replaced by another assistant general secretary. I couldn't really name them. For me that sums the union up since Mullen's retirement. Do you need to move away from having a number of well-known and charismatic leaders to a more theocratic model, much like the rest of the representative bodies. And sadly for the union. And for teachers, there would be only one union officer on the list these days. Number 29 Ferdinand Von Prondzynski. I mentioned earlier in the list under Brian McGraith Von Prondzynski had already moved on to other pastures by 2011. Hence my very short profile because would he make the list now? His influence in art and disappeared fairly quickly. Once he left Ireland, he wouldn't make the list today. I'm not even sure he deserved his place back then, as he'd already moved on. Number 30 father Michael Drumm. In 2011, the Irish times believe the father Michael Drumm was poised to become one of the most recognizable spokesman for the church. Drumm was the first head of the Catholic education partnership in 2010. However, it seems the Irish times prediction was a little overstated. Search for Drumm contains very few results in terms of the pluralism and patronage forum. He showed up in all searches as being an opposition to divestments. And I have an example of that in my show notes on, but in 2016, seemingly out of nowhere, he left off for Nigeria. And that's the last record I can find on the internet of his whereabouts or his influence in any way. What do you make the list now? I don't think Drumm lived up to the Irish times prediction, but it did seem to be a barrier to the divestment process while he was in power. Which I guess gave him his place on the list back then. The current head of the Catholic education partnership is not a priest. Now it's Alan Hynes who holds the role. While it's early days, I think he will have more influence he's a good communicator and comes across reasonable in debate. We have indeed sparred on the radio on a couple of occasions. So there we have. That is the third batch of our top 50 influential people in education at pretty quick. Tour of the list only 20 minutes worth. Have a podcast. If you're going for a very long walk, I deeply apologize. I usually go into a little bit more detail, but we had a number of people on that list that really had no influence on primary education at that time. If you are interested in learning more about the people in this list, you can go to or to find out more on the podcast. As I say is available. On all of those platforms that you like. I'm currently at the moment trying to build up a bit of a mailing list. I mean, I'll use the extra time. I have maybe to tell you of my plans for 2024. I am. I like many people who are involved in education, I'm finding Twitter or X as it's known now. A more difficult place to be. I kind of find that. While I'm sending, you know, regular posts and things like that, it's becoming quite a toxic place where, you know, people particularly with you know, anonymous accounts are coming on and, and, and kind of doing things that, you know, just. I mean, I don't really have time to deal with. I'm not saying they upset me in any particular way. But I found now I found myself screenshotted with, you know Basically very personal kind of. Horrible things being said about me. There's been a couple of anti-Semitic. Kind of comments put about my profile as someone just wrote the word nonce my name, which is just, you know, like only that I don't, I don't care. 'cause it's just rubbish. But it's just, it does become a bit annoying really that you're putting stuff out on, on Twitter or on the online or whatever it is. And they, and what I'm trying to do, I suppose my, my goal isn't particularly to cause trouble. My goal isn't to be a nuisance. I am obviously admit. I want to disrupt the education system. So what I do find it's quite flat. I do think we do need to change the system because we, because the church, the Catholic church in particular has far too much influence in, in how it goes. I think we have an, we have a really good education system in many ways, but the, the bits I'd say the 5%, the knots are generally caused by this patronage model, which I think we need to get rid of. And the way we're going about it, isn't working. So I don't know, I don't have a platform other than social media, but I am finding Twitter becoming less of a useful place to do that. And unfortunately for me, it's where I invested all my eggs in a basket. And I have. Quite a lot of people who I suppose use my, you know, kind of read my my posts as they're now known. And I really feel, I need to move away from it somewhat. Because I can see it being taken over. Bye. People, I don't really want to be associated with the, the anonymous accounts who are using the platform. To spread. I guess the type of rhetoric that. You know, started in the 1920s and moved into the 1930s. I am looking at that pattern and I don't want it to be, I don't think these particular people are fascists themselves, but they're getting swept up in the kind of fascist rhetoric. Of certain political parties who I fear are growing and we could see them growing. We can see us in, in a holler in the Netherlands. We can see it in a Hungary, we can see it in various countries where, and right-wing parties are starting to. To take hold in places. And I don't think Ireland is any different to that. I guess I have to look at different avenues where I can put my thoughts out there. And discuss them with people. I'm not necessarily. I'm definitely not saying my thoughts are correct, but I do want to find a place where people. Can read them and disagree with them or agree with them and kind of continue conversations in a more safe space. Done a Twitter or X. And so if you are interested in doing that I have started a newsletter. It's only taken me 18 years to set up this newsletter you can do that by going to What I'm going to do is every week or two, probably every couple of weeks anyway, because because of time I'm going to publish a newsletter. It will let you know that my latest podcast is ready to listen to. So your. You should be getting it from here. I'm currently saving lots of articles that I find interesting about education. And my plan really for 2024 is to take a few of those articles. And maybe discuss those on the podcASTI 'm also going to be using. I'm also going to be trying to continue my journey with AI. I'm really interested in artificial intelligence and I've created a few bits and pieces on a website called mash.Plus. And you can go over there to have a look at those, but I want to share things that I've learned about artificial intelligence and technology in general, because I think 20 24, it's going to be an interesting year for technology in education. So I'm kind of thinking of creating a few articles and podcasts on technology and education as well. So I'm another plan I have maybe for 2024 is to maybe use a bit more video given the, again, that artificial intelligence will be able to give me the time. Time to, you know, chop up the bits that I'm going to use or not use. I think the thing preventing me from going on video in the past is that I rely a lot on my show notes. So me staring at a screen doing, saying nothing isn't as going to be, isn't going to be very useful, but I found some software which uses artificial intelligence and it allows me to I suppose, make my, make some videos that will at least if not interesting. They'll be a little bit more interesting than looking at me, looking at reading off a screen. So that's kind of my plans in a nutshell. I'll see how it goes. Obviously I'll be continuing these normal podcasts where I delve into a subject in more detail. I still have two more parts of this one to do so the 50 most influential people in education where they're now parts four and five will be coming up over the next few weeks. But other than that I've no more to say to you other than to wish you a very happy new year. For 2024. I hope you'll. If you do enjoy this podcast or you want to tell your teacher friends about it, please do share the link, because I'd love to build up a bit of an audience for this until next time. Thanks for listening. And we'll see you then bye-bye.

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