The first day we step onto school premises, we are embraced with a smile from a teacher.
From this day on, the teacher introduces us to new knowledge. The teacher leads us into a classroom and introduces us to new people, people we have never met before. He/she shows us how to communicate, interact and work as a team.
A teacher takes good care of us in the absence of our parents, just like mom and dad would. A teacher not only grooms in the field of knowledge but also aims at creating a holistic individual.
They love it when they see us progressing well. They mentor and counsel us whenever we go wrong. Sometimes, teachers might seem tough on us but like the saying goes, spare the rod and spoil a child.
The best of teachers simply enjoy the service; knowing that one has contributed to the growth of others is an end in itself. They delight in sharing what they have learned. They guide us to the right path. After all is said and done, the learner may become a teacher, and round goes the circle.
Contrary to the popular belief, I do not think that a teacher is necessarily the most skilled at their subject. For example, one of the things I enjoy in life is cooking and I have noticed that while the world’s best chefs write cookbooks about their skill, they often cannot pass on the “how” and the “why” of some particular obscure point.
They know what and when to mix and they have even come to believe that once you follow their steps, you will get the same results. The epic failure I have had with this kind of instruction is peerless. Often, the best chefs in this world do this. They know what works for them but they often cannot explain it.
The best cooking instructor I have found is not a world-known chef. Their “hobby” is simply cooking. This teacher is an extremely smart observer, articulate, highly knowledgeable and, of course, an excellent cook but not a pronounced chef.
She spends too much time doing what she loves most while helping others become great cooks. On the contrary, given the competition, world-known chefs are usually involved in their self-advancement and do not often have the enthusiasm for helping others learn.
This works the same way for teachers. Therefore, unlike record holders, a good teacher communicates, listens, collaborates, adapts, shows empathy, and is patient.
The past years have been challenging for most teachers given the Covid-19 pandemic which saw the closure of learning institutions.
Many teachers have found themselves challenged both financially and some even mentally. For those passionate about teaching, this has neither shaken them nor dampened their spirits. Being one of their greatest superpowers, teachers around the nation have quickly adapted to new ways of keeping the doors of learning open, using all the available means. We commend you for being adaptive.
Given the teachers’ great contribution to the development of our nation, let’s borrow a leaf from countries like Switzerland and Germany and have the teaching profession listed as one of the highest-paying jobs in the country. This will not only encourage teachers to do more but also drive more young people into the willingness to share knowledge through teaching.
As we celebrate Teacher’s Day this week, let us recognize the contribution of teachers to our society, and support their need to fully contribute to the recovery process from the effects of Covid-19.
Teaching is a profession, a way of life, and to most, a pursuit of truth in service to others. May the sharing spirit that continues to shape the future of this country always burn bright because to teach is to touch lives forever.
The author is the publicity officer at River Flow International – Science Teachers Initiative (RIFI-STI).