There's a wise old adage that says... "If you've been lucky enough to have been taught by a good teacher... you are lucky enough!"

Actually, the adage isn't all that old. I just made it up, but it might eventually grow moss because there's truth in it.

Throughout history good teachers have been revered and regarded as "influencers" long before the word "influencer" was created and started to gain popularity.

Teachers are special, no doubt. They toil for the benefit of other children in the classroom, and even take work home with them. They are under-paid, and under-appreciated by their charges, bureaucrats, and parents. Yet they are catalysts and architects of society, indeed the universe. They inspire, mould, shape, and influence all future professions, all in the course of a normal day's work.

They are divinely gifted with ethical morals, magically help people find love, and build respect and confidence within themselves, and realize their potential by opening their eyes, opening their minds, and touching their hearts to exciting new possibilities. Like I said, they're special.

A good teacher is a crafts expert who can fashion from what seems by most to be a rock-headed youth, into a social diamond. And that takes skill.

Teaching is not all about the content they impart. The content itself is just the work of backroom boys, a few harmless souls trying to carve a living to support their families by fingering through books, plucking text extracts here and there, and reassembling them jigsaw-like to appear up-to-date and appropriate to modern demands. Basically, anyone can cut and paste.

I'm against the annual change of schoolbooks, like one might repaint or wallpaper walls each year. Schoolbooks should be standard for 5-10 years and available from schools to lend to pupils year on year and save considerable expense. Truth doesn't changes from year to year. The Quran doesn't change.

'Good' teaching requires a special set of different skills. It takes a superior kind of person to become a good teacher and more difficult still to become a great teacher.

It's impossible to measure the value of the contribution a good teacher makes to an individual or to society. They're custodians of children's destinies and sort of like mystics... sages... gurus encased in rainbow-like coloured auras with a spotlight from Heaven helping to conceal their wings against the blackboard backdrop.

Yes, angels walk among us and many of them are undoubtedly teachers.

Every school is a Temple of Knowledge and serves as a beacon of hope in the choppy, desolate ocean of ignorance, while every teacher is a source of inspiration and optimism for children to learn, develop, and fulfill all of their social, emotional, academic aspirations and needs.

Thursday, October 5, 2023, is Teachers' Day. Yipeeee!

I feel, however, that title itself short-changes them inexcusably, so I've taken the liberty to rename the occasion Teachers' APPRECIATION Day, for my own satisfaction and appeasement of conscious, if nothing else.

One will have noticed, there are a number of calendar dates heralding and beating the drum loudly for all kinds of celebrations. The No. 1, undoubtedly, is Mother's Day. Father's Day is there, too, but somewhat unfairly kept very much in the background. (Poor dad!)

Closest to those is Teachers' Appreciation Day and for good reason. Teachers are the substitute parents of the offspring. They're the parents children have, when the biological parents are not around, and that's often. Besides they may be in contact more with the child than the biological parents themselves.

Good teachers richly deserve standing ovations together with enthusiastic and prolonged applause. Their professional tool kit includes compassion, understanding, patience, empathy, love, encouragement, inspiration, motherly/fatherly sympathy and other human qualities. They're First Responders, First Aiders, nurses, and mothers when schoolyard accidents occur and mix-in copious sympathy to the Savlon they apply to the cut. They have heart; they have soul. Their hearts, seemingly, are larger than regular human hearts.

They know criticism and condemnation is poisonous to a child's learning and therefore they Encourage... Encourage... Encourage at every given opportunity. In return, they're loved, respected, and admired by all the doting little Bambi eyed-children who peer up at them daily in awe.

Sadly there're some 'bad' teachers in the profession, who deserve no thanks from society or anyone! Their tools include corporal punishment, hurtful, discouraging, sniding remarks, belittling a child in front of his or her peers, making the child's experience an horrific experience and worst of all, destroying a child's joy of learning, all through their own ignorance, perhaps even jealousy.

Disliked and despised

But they're not 'real' teachers in the truest sense. Most in this category are disliked and despised by their pupils and give the eminent profession a bad name... but they still collect their monthly salaries. And as long as they do, they're happy. Most likely, that was the only reason they applied for the 'job' anyway.

And there lies the ENORMOUS difference... To a committed professional teaching isn't a 'job'; it is a vocation ¬¬- a calling (from God, if you like) to serve humanity, similar in reverence to nursing. They love their work and it shows. Pupils don't care how much the teacher knows, it's how much the teacher cares and imparts.

To become a good teacher requires more than a faded paper certificate and knowledge of the subject.

Every good teacher knows the enormous importance of establishing a good relationship with those in their class. When there's a good relationship, amazing, magical learning happens and sparks fly.

Relationships take patience and time. They are built on trust and mutual admiration, but the dividends are enormous. Good teachers are gifted with patience. Once the trust is solid, the sky's the limit. Children will do ANYTHING for their favourite teacher... especially learn!

Substitute parent

Good teachers take on the role as a substitute parent, and become their friend, not their jailer. They view the children in their care to be their family members and make them feel wanted, feel loved, feel appreciated, feel human. They continuously look for opportunities to say something nice... something encouraging.

They show an interest in all that interests the child, as they would show their own children. They speak about their cricket skills (or whatever). They lighten the day ahead by telling a funny story or holding a fun general knowledge quiz. And they sing Happy Birthday on the birthdays of the children!

They have fun with them. School should be a fun place to be, not a torture chamber. Happy children NEVER tire of school, never tire of learning, and never want to miss a day and their homework is home-play. It's their Jamuna Park of thrills and exhilaration and every ride is FREE!

They get to meet with their friends, have loads of fun and spend time with the teacher they love. When children are happy, they learn faster. And isn't that what school should be all about: Fun, Games, Knowledge, Friendship, Love of one's fellowman, Love of one's nation, admiration and respect for each other?

Teachers are the unsung heroes of all nations and grossly under appreciated by many. They are silent heroes and heroines; educators, mentors, character sculptors and substitute parents to all, and dear friends to many.

A world without teachers is unimaginable. Their fingerprints never fade from the lives they touch.

Profoundest thanks to all GOOD teachers... individually and collectively, for being who are. You and Allah know who you are, and if you don't get the thanks and appreciation you deserve in this life, you know it's been deposited in a High Return Compound Interest Account that's redeemable in the next.

Happy Teachers' Appreciation Day! Joi Bangla!

Sir Frank Peters is an anti corporal punishment crusader, a former newspaper and magazine publisher and editor, an award-winning writer, royal goodwill ambassador, humanitarian, staunch human rights activist, Honorary Member of the Bangladesh Freedom Fighter, and he successfully campaigned for a five-day school week in Bangladesh.

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