In 900 years, it’s hard to think that someone who excels at teaching wouldn’t have taken on more than a few students throughout their time spent instructing others. But out of the many things that people have tried to understand about Yoda, the number of apprentices he took on in his close to 800 years as a Master Jedi is one of the questions that gets the least attention. It’s already known that he was Count Dooku’s master and that he mentored Mace Windu as well as a host of other individuals, but thinking of who he might have taken on as a padawan is an interesting idea since 800 years is a long time to go without having a long list of apprentices, especially since Yoda likely outlived many of his students. In terms of being a teacher, Yoda was able to influence thousands of students over his time, but the personal one-on-one training that a master gives a padawan is something that many don’t know much about when it comes to the small green Jedi.
To be fair, not everyone knows a lot about him anyway even though many have searched extensively to discover whatever there is to find out about the diminutive Jedi Master. There’s never been mention of where he comes from, what his race is called, and it’s simply assumed that his species is born Force-sensitive since the only representations we’ve seen, other than Yoda, have been Jedi as well. The fact that people don’t know a lot about this character outside of the Jedi Order would have likely been troubling had Yoda not been that awesome or interesting. But throughout his time in the Star Wars franchise, Yoda was undoubtedly one of the most influential characters who wasn’t the main character and thinking of how many students he might have taken on kind of points to why the Jedi went from being strong and resolute to being uncertain and blinded by the dark side.
Whether he was wrong or right about his approach to the Force and its use, Yoda was one of the most powerful of the order and the wisest among them. But while he taught many upon many students it’s easy to think that he didn’t take on a lot of padawans. He became a master by the time he was 100, which means he had slightly less than eight centuries in which he could have had a handful of padawans that he probably would have outlived since the longevity he possessed was great enough that he could have seen students come and go. In fact, he saw the rise and the fall of the High Republic, and obviously was witness to the rise of the Empire. But when thinking of how many students he took on as his apprentice the number is likely very small. Perhaps Yoda didn’t want to grow too close to his students, or perhaps he came to see every student as someone he could help. This would cut back on the personal time between himself and one student, to be honest, but it would have kept him from becoming too involved with any single one of them.
He did teach Obi-Wan Kenobi, it’s easy to think that he taught Qui-Gon Jinn, and it’s fair to say that he even taught Anakin, or tried to. But the act of taking a padawan is a very serious and dedicated act that doesn’t leave a lot of time for much else, as a master must usually spend a great deal of time with their student to make certain that they’re given the education they require to become a full-fledged Jedi. In this manner, Yoda likely looked upon the Jedi Order as his to teach, an entire culture of students that were not destined to become padawans, but were bound to remember him fondly anyway since his lessons were tough to forget. Trying to think of how many Jedi would have been honored to be his padawan would be tough, but only a few were ever given that dubious pleasure since one can imagine that it wasn’t the easiest life.
One has to recall that in the books and even in the movies and animated features that Yoda is a great teacher, but he’s also stern and a bit difficult to get along with at times. The relationship between master and padawan is never perfect, but among the many masters that trained one or more padawans in their time, Yoda was often seen as one of the most difficult since when it came to a one on one session he was a bit of a taskmaster, and didn’t accept excuses. Of course, many of the masters didn’t, but Yoda made it a point to grill his students when he felt the need. Just ask Luke Skywalker.