The first week of September seems to be a bumper week for teachers. It’s teachers’ day today in Singapore, will be teachers day on the 5th (Friday) in India and it’s the same for the USA on the 6th. Seems to be a good time for us to think about our role as educators and what we’re doing with our lives and how we’re (not) messing up the minds of our young charges. I jest. Though only slightly.
I remember teachers day when I was in school – there were the tribute concerts put up by sometimes unwilling students, the deluge of chocolates, flowers, mugs and other assorted trinkets for teachers in the staff rooms and of course, the one thing that all teachers look forward to – no class for a day. Taking the greeting card company sentiments aside, I do remember the embarrassed looks on the teachers when they received gifts that ranged from the hasty to heart-felt. Most do deserve the accolades and gifts they receive but I remember the wise words of a teacher who told us the best gift is if we actually listened to her throughout the year. That was much more difficult than buying or even making something.
Fast forward to the past few years – I’ve never been in a school that really celebrates such things (it’s a tertiary institution and all) and am pretty glad that I didn’t have to go through the embarrassment of getting odd gifts. While I do treasure the farewell cards and thoughts that some students and classes have given me through the years, I do feel that the outward show of gratitude and all can be a little uncomfortable for us as teachers. We did know what we were in for when we took up this vocation and I personally wouldn’t want to be celebrated in such a way. I’d rather sit back and watch the various successes of the students I’ve taught and be glad that I might just have played the tiniest bit in that.
I realise that the longer that one stays in a particular vocation, the more you and the vocation become one. It becomes part of the being and one starts to define oneself by the vocation. I’d be hard pressed to think of myself as anything other than an educator and even when not in school or in class, the long-winded educator in me does surface. Scary as that seems, I’d say that when one finds something that can become part of you in that way, it’s probably something that you’d want to stick with. Hence where I am and what I’m doing.
But, no heavy reflections or philosophising today. It’s a day to celebrate a little, kick back, forget about classes for a bit and smell the roses. Happy Teachers’ Day to all teachers out there!
You could also enjoy this really bad joke that I heard several years ago at a local play (can’t remember the title but was part of the Chestnuts series). I tell it quite often in class and the responses are always the same. It helps cement my reputation as a bad joke teller.
Disclaimer: Resemblance to any teacher or student, past or present, is purely coincidental. No teachers or students were physically harmed in any joke telling sessions. Mental health post joke is a different matter complete. Images created here.