Clara Schumann

Do a google search on Schumann and you will most likely find references to Robert Schumann, the 19th century composer. You won’t immediately find that his wife Clara Schumann, was also a noted composer and virtuoso pianist.

As an interesting aside there was a strong and complex relationship between Robert, Clara and Johannes Brahms

Marie Curie

Marie Curie‘s name is intimately associated with the discovery of ‘radioactivity.’ This is not accurate as that discovery belongs to Henri Becquerel. To me precise she isolated the active radioactive source within pitchblende. Starting with several tonnes of pitchblende working with he husband Pierre, she isolated one gram of pure Radium.

From the Nobel Prize website:

Her early researches, together with her husband, were often performed under difficult conditions, laboratory arrangements were poor and both had to undertake much teaching to earn a livelihood. The discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel in 1896 inspired the Curies in their brilliant researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium, named after the country of Marie’s birth, and radium. Mme. Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties, therapeutic properties in particular.

Frank Tate

Frank Tate was Victoria’s first Director of Education. Reading his biography is an amazing experience. Here was someone who was passionate about education and an educational reformer. He addressed issues we think of as modern.

Tate was not content to be a routine inspector and embarked on a personal crusade to revive Victorian state education. He sped through his huge district, winning the loyalty of teachers by his gift for humour, anecdote and epigram, and by his seemingly inexhaustible flow of quotations from English literature, especially Shakespeare. He offered them a vision of a liberal curriculum, imaginative and realistic methods, and a gentler and more constructive discipline; he introduced them to the ideas of the ‘new education’, a loosely organized reform movement which was gaining popularity in Britain. He showed teachers, as they toiled for meagre salaries in century heat in their tin-roofed schools, that their task, although grossly undervalued by society, was one of importance and dignity. Through them, state-school children, previously offered a narrow and unappealing fare dominated by the three Rs taught rigidly and by rote, could be introduced to the richness and variety of a great culture.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi held no pubic office and was the head of no organisation yet he was one of the most influential people of the 20th Century.

Character of the day: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt may be best known as the wife of US President Franklin D Roosevelt. However she was an amazing and influential woman in her own right.