“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” – Japanese Proverb.
In many parts of the world, October 5 of every year is observed as World Teachers’ Day. Also known as International Teachers’ Day, it is a day that celebrates the incredible role that teachers all over the world play and their important contribution to society. This year marks the 29th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day, and the theme for this year is: “The teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”
On October 5, 1966, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) signed a recommendation concerning the “Status of Teachers.” This guidance hoped to target and investigate the status and situation of teachers across the world. From their working conditions, recruitment, rights, and responsibilities, this historic recommendation set a high standard of practice in the workplace.
To recognize this significant anniversary and commemorate the signing of the 1966 document, UNESCO created International Teachers’ Day in 1994. The focus is aimed primarily at the issues faced by teachers and the goals outlined in the recommendation.
Being a teacher can be a difficult but rewarding job. Teachers work hard to inspire, guide, educate and mentor us every day. Teaching is an inspiring profession that leaves a lasting impact on every child’s life, no matter how big or small it may seem.
Teachers provide education for all ages, children to adults, and in a diverse field of studies. Teachers need to have standards in place to protect and look out for them, to enable them to carry out their job and continue to make a difference in and out of the classroom, and in their local communities. By raising awareness of the importance of teaching and the current issues affecting teachers, the hope is that it will in turn improve the quality of education.
Teaching is a noble work with good incentive. It is indeed a most vital profession. Teachers lay the essential foundation for a person’s education. However, it has to be admitted that the teaching profession is a demanding one which presents many challenges – from inadequate pay to inferior classroom conditions; from excessive paperwork to oversize classes; from disrespect and violence to a lack of concern on the part of parents/guardians. Being a teacher is not at all easy. It demands a great deal of self-sacrifice. Also, with the declining economy, life has not been easy for many teachers. And poor remuneration has always discouraged people from moving into the teaching profession. Nevertheless, despite the difficulties and drawbacks, many teachers still persevere in their chosen profession.
What motivates them? While most teachers are motivated by their love for children, others are influenced by their desire to help less fortunate people. Still others are encouraged when they see the successes of their students, and receive praise and appreciation for their efforts in teaching them. In spite of all the challenges, setbacks and disappointments, many teachers still derive great joy from their work.
So, what makes a successful teacher? Unless a teacher is convinced of the value of education and is also interested in young people, it is impossible for him or her to become a good, successful, motivated and satisfied teacher. A good teacher instills confidence in those he teaches and makes learning a fascinating challenge. A good teacher recognizes each student’s potential and knows how to make it blossom and flourish.
To get the best out of each child, the teacher must discover what interests or motivates him or her and what makes the child tick, and a dedicated teacher must love children. William Ayers, a teacher, said: “Good teaching requires most of all, a thoughtful, caring teacher committed to the lives of students. Good teaching is not a matter of specific techniques or styles, plans or actions. . . . Teaching is primarily a matter of love.”
While so much is expected of the teaching profession though, so often the dedicated educators in our schools receive little public praise for their efforts. Have you, as a student or parent, ever thanked a teacher for the time, effort and interest shown? Or even sent a thank-you note or letter? It is good to note that teachers thrive on commendation too. The government, parents and students should highly esteem them and their services.
How grateful we should be to those women and men who provoked our curiosity, who stirred the mind and heart, who showed us how to satisfy our thirst for knowledge and understanding – our teachers!
Ighakpe, a teacher writes from Festac Town, Lagos. 0817 479 5742; [email protected].