Teachers’ Day

By Chen Shasha Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/10 17:28:39

Locals and foreigners explain how educators have impacted their lives beyond the classroom

September 10 is Teachers' Day in China, when students express their gratitude and respect for teachers and the educational profession as a whole. Teachers play an undeniable role in the value building and mental development of youngsters.

A teacher writes on the blackboard. Photos: CFP and Chen Shasha/GT

Those who can, teach!

A 2016 Annual Report on Social Mentality of China released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences showed that, following families and friends, Chinese people trust teachers the most of any social group. But are teachers in or from other countries as trusted and respected? The Global Times recently interviewed some local and foreign visitors passing through Shanghai about their impressions of the teaching profession.

Kate from Russia is working as a teacher in Shanghai. "I think a good teacher should know their subject very well and also should be kind to kids."

But James Ware from London sees their role as something deeper. "A good teacher for me is somebody who can make sure every person understands what they need to understand, push everyone to be the best they can be and inspire them to want to be more at the same time."

Moel from Bali, Indonesia, said the things students obtain from teachers at school can also be applicable continuously in life. "I think it lasts forever," he said.

"In my opinion, a good teacher should teach students to learn by themselves after school. Students spend most of their time studying after school. Even in the classroom, they have many students but only one teacher," Ji Wei from East China's Anhui Province said. "So when they are encountered with challenges outside of campus, they don't get instant help from teachers."

"In my country, we have a prophetic saying that 'teachers are our second parents.' As we grow up, we use the knowledge given by our teacher. So I think this refers to that a teacher is really an engineer of the human soul," Moel told the Global Times.

Ware believes that, apart from parents, there is nobody better to shape people in the way that teachers do. "I still remember teachers who really mattered to me, even when I was small. I think they have a huge impact on our lives and who we are going to be, which really is unparalleled in any other job or any other members of society," Ware told the Global Times.

A teacher writes on the blackboard.

Value shaping

Besides imparting knowledge from text books, teachers have invaluable experiences that they can share to younger generation to avoid similar twists and turns during a child's personal development.

Ji Wei recalled a story of himself when in middle school. "I was always hanging out with bad students at that time and not interested in studying at all. My performance was so terrible that my parents transferred me to another school. A teacher surnamed Wu encouraged me a lot to make achievements at school, which made me more confident in myself," said Ji.

He also remembers another teacher named Zhang Wei who wrote a few words on his notebook: "There are many choices in our life, please choose one seriously and move on."

He believes that teachers are undervalued in society even though teachers can see the real advantages of students and give them important advice at the key points of life. "They are people who keep society running. The values teachers create are incomparable to any other occupation," he added.

Ji also said that the most important quality a teacher should have is being impartial. "When I was young, I saw a bad phenomenon. Some teachers favored students whose families are richer than others by arranging a better seat for them. It makes a bad start for the young in value shaping."


Rewarding good behavior

Sadly, some teachers don't teach well and others accept money or gifts from students and parents in exchange for preferential treatment. Early in 2014, China's Ministry of Education released a notice banning teachers from receiving any precious gifts from students or parents.

But according to a recent news report, Zhang Shulan, former deputy principal at Daqing No.4 Senior High School of Heilongjiang Province, received gifts and money amounting to 284,000 yuan ($43,833.98) from students and parents between 2000 and 2016.

"Maybe teaching seems like an unappreciated job. So we have to incentivize teachers who are within the system and make sure there is enough rewards, particularly for the exceptional teachers, to keep them in the traditional framework, rather than to force them to have to look for income elsewhere," said Ware.

However, Birgit Schmidt from Germany believes this is a form of corruption. "It must be controlled by the government," she said. "Good education has to be without taking money. And children in China and the world must all have the same chance to learn," her husband added.

Moel said it is human nature to try to improve one's income. "We cannot judge a person by what he did on the side. There are many positive sides from our teachers. They teach us with a low budget maybe, so they try to improve their life as well as a human. This thing is common," he told the Global Times.

"When we were in senior high school, we gave small presents to our teachers, like flowers, dolls or food, to say thank you," Moel said.

"I gave flowers and chocolates to my favorite teachers when I was in school," said Kate. Ware likewise used to give gifts to his teachers at the end of the year. He said that when he went on holiday somewhere, he would bring back gifts for his favorite teachers, like a bottle of wine.

He told the Global Times that he was lucky enough to have a few teachers when he was younger who really impacted him, not only in motivating him, but also in terms of how he wanted to be as a person.

He still feels excited about one of his favorite teachers. "Mr Dolan came with me to a rock concert in Hyde Park of London, which I think this is the next level of a cool teacher," Ware told the Global Times.

Birgit Schmidt (right) and her husband


Ji Wei


James Ware





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