The 10 Greatest T.V. Teachers of All Time
- Fred McFeely Rogers was a minister who began working in television to address the need for dynamic programming for children. His show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, is one of the most enduring educational programs in television history. The series ran from 1968 to 2001 (with a hiatus in 1976) on PBS, and each episode centered on a certain educational theme, featuring segments of arts and crafts, music and experiments. Along with lessons in academic subjects, the show dealt with larger issues that made it one of the most progressive of its time, including death, divorce and emotions.
- Carl Sagan taught at Cornell University (where one of his students was Bill Nye) and was an advisor to NASA, working with the American Space program from its inception. In 1980, Sagan wrote and hosted a television series for PBS entitled Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which won an Emmy and a Peabody for its engaging visual-effects-driven way of teaching children about the galaxy.
- Shari Lewis was most known for introducing the world to Lamb Chop, a witty and loveable sock puppet that “starred” alongside Lewis. Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop appeared on PBS together in Shariland, The Shari Lewis Show and Lamb Chop’s Play Along. Shari Lewis won numerous Emmys for her work in children’s television.
- LeVar Burton is an actor, director and author who hosted the wonderful PBS series, Reading Rainbow, from 1983-2006. Reading Rainbow encouraged reading through book reviews and taught children about the world through segments where Burton traveled to interesting places and interviewed locals. Although Reading Rainbow ended in 2006, there is still hope. Recently, Burton tweeted that "Reading Rainbow 2.0 is in the works." We can't wait to see what he comes up with.
- William Nye is a mechanical engineer who hosted Bill Nye the Science Guy, an educational television program that aired on PBS from 1993 to 1998. The show mixed humorous skits, parodies and music videos with practical science experiments. It aimed to motivate children’s’ interest in science while appealing to a wide audience. Since Bill Nye The Science Guy ended, Bill Nye has hosted other educational programs, including The Eyes of Nye and 100 Greatest Discoveries, and he continues to appear on talk shows.
- Steve Irwin was a renowned wildlife expert who hosted The Crocodile Hunter on Animal Planet from 1997 to 2004. Irwin was known for his environmentalism and efforts to protect endangered species. Each episode was devoted to a particular region or species. Before his death in 2006, Irwin also hosted Croc Files, The Crocodile Hunter Diaries and New Breed Vets, and also appeared in numerous documentaries and films.
- Mr. Wizard was a television personality whose show aired from 1951 to 1965, 1970, and 1983 to 1990. Watch Mr. Wizard (later Mr. Wizard’s World) starred Don Herbert as the title character and is considered the precursor to Bill Nye the Science Guy. During the show, Mr. Wizard would conduct experiments to demonstrate general scientific principles to children and to instill an interest in learning.
- Beakman’s World aired from 1992 to 1998 on CBS and featured a scientist named Beakman who performed experiments to demonstrate basic scientific experiments. Though Beakman is a fictitious persona, the show itself aims to teach children about science and inspire excitement for learning. The show is unique in that Beakman performed experiments in response to letters from viewers, making it an interactive experience for young learners.
- Sometimes to reach older kids, you need a teacher that's a little bit cooler. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts the PBS series NOVA scienceNOW, but he's also appeared on The Colbert Report a record number of times and frequently appears on other, late night talk shows. He is known for being outspoken and witty in his political beliefs, particularly when it comes to space exploration and NASA.
- Chris and Martin Kratt are nature conservationists with degrees in Zoology and Biology, respectively. The Kratt Brothers emerged on PBS in 1994 with Kratt’s Creatures, an educational nature program that featured a different animal each episode. The show utilized humorous skits and interesting experiments to educate, and was so popular that it spawned a book series. From 1998 to 2001, they hosted Zoboomafoo, which was similar to their previous show though it incorporated musical segments and a talking lemur puppet as a co-host.
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