BLOG: Teacher’s Day
In 1994, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization declared Oct. 5 as “World Teacher’s Day.”
On the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) website, Teacher’s Day is explained as “celebrating the great step made for teachers on Oct. 5, 1996, when a special intergovernmental conference convened by UNESCO in Paris adopted the UNESCO/International Labor Organization Recommendations concerning the Status of Teachers.”
Prior to the declaration by UNESCO, nations had celebrated Teacher’s Day on different days, which varied from country to country. After this international declaration, many countries around the world followed UNESCO’s declaration and switched the date to Oct. 5. In this blog, I will talk about Teacher’s Day in Jordan during my school days in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Like many Arab countries, Jordan used to celebrate Teacher’s Day on March 21st, a day that marked several other annual celebrations including Mother’s Day in the Arab World. As far as I recall, all schools around Jordan — while not taking the day off — would hold in-class celebrations throughout the day, varying from one school to another and one class to another.
Some of us loved to celebrate Teacher’s Day because it meant a day without official classes — no homework to be turned in, no punishment for poor performance and no punishment for bad deeds in class. Just celebrating.
On Teacher’s Day, the school day would start with the students lining up in the school’s major yard as they do daily to perform the school’s ritual, but the line-up was prolonged by speeches given by the principal and some teachers and students. The school’s radio station would air national songs all day.
Each class would close the door and celebrate the dedicated class teacher in various ways — presents, songs, music, poems, etc. In 9th grade, I wrote a poem titled “Teacher’s Day,” and said it during our class celebration. Our teacher, who was a math teacher and a poet himself, liked the poem very much.
In 10th grade, I did something much bigger on Teacher’s Day. My Arabic teacher asked me to write the student’s speech for Teacher’s Day, not to be given during the school’s Teacher’s Day celebration but at the National Teacher’s Day celebration. How could I win this honor, and more importantly, how would I deliver the speech?
The National Teacher’s Day celebration in Jordan at that time would be held by the Ministry of Education under the Royal Patronage in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. It would be held at the Royal Cultural Parade, a landmark and beautiful architectural glassy building in the Capital’s sports city. The audience would include, in addition to his majesty the King and the Minister of Education, a number of dignitaries and the theatre would be full of journalists and a large number of attendants related to education from all around the country. The event would be aired on national TV and would be covered on the first pages of national newspapers.
Who was I? A humble student in a humble public school. A child of a blue-collar working-class household living in one of Amma’s poor-to-below-middle-class neighborhoods.
But, I took the challenge. I wrote the speech.
I would have to compete with many students from all high schools around the country, private and public. My speech won one of the top two finalist spots. The Minister of Education himself would meet with both of the finalists — myself and a high school senior from another public school. I met with the Minister and he selected my speech. It was the first time I met a dignitary and it was a very stressful experience. My family and I felt pride when a huge government car came to our neighborhood and parked in from of my house to pick me up for the meeting with the Minister.
I gave the speech. It was spectacular. For the first time I experienced a huge crowd and experienced numerous flashing lights from cameras held by journalists.
That evening, all my family members, neighbors and friends saw me on TV. The next day, my pictures were all over the newspapers. The school and especially my Arabic teacher was very proud — it was the first time a student from our high school won that honor.
Forty years later, here I am now, a teacher myself.
Notwithstanding the difference between school teachers and college teachers, a teacher is a teacher. Teaching is teaching regardless of time, place and level.
I enjoy teaching immensely. It is true that when it comes to college teachers, medical teachers are a bit different from other college teachers. I have been a medical school faculty member for over 12 years. I struggle with the difference myself. I always get asked, even sometimes by my own kids who all went to college at the same university I teach at — how come you are a professor but do not teach classes with credit hours and why do you not give exams?
I then have to explain the difference between medical professors and other university professors — that is another story for another day.
This blog was to honor World Teacher’s Day celebrating all teachers around the world for their hard work in educating the generations — school teachers, college teachers and parents, who are the first teachers in any human society.