Teachers’ Day

Everyone can probably look back to at least one teacher in their life who inspired them to become the person that they are today.

For many of us, that teacher was the reason that we went into the field of work that we ultimately decided on. For others, that teacher was there to help them through hardships in their lives that their friends or families couldn’t help them with.

Teachers shape our lives in ways that no other people do. They teach us, help us grow, provide us a space for inspiration, and pave the way for us to become better individuals for the greater cause of society. If there is any one group of people that has the future of the world in their hands, it’s teachers. This is the reason that we celebrate Teachers’ Day, to show appreciation to the great teachers in our lives and honor their contributions to our lives, no matter how large or small. 

From India to the United States and beyond, Teachers’ Day is celebrated all over the globe. The real question is, how did this day come to be? 

What is Teachers’ Day?

There are two separate Teachers’ Day celebrations. One celebration is known as World Teachers’ Day. This celebration has been held annually on October 4th since 1994. It is meant to mark the date of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO, a standard-setting document that helps to identify and address problems for teachers all over the world. This document helped to bring standards and outlines to policy, training, and recruitment for teachers, as well as employment and working conditions.

This iteration of World Teachers’ Day is meant to not only show appreciation to teachers of the world, but also meant to assess and improve the working conditions of these teachers around the world as well. 

The National Teachers’ Day holiday is celebrated differently depending on the country. Countries around the world, such as the United States, India, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, and hundreds of others, have their own days and celebrations for Teachers’ Day. In the United States, for example, Teachers’ Day is celebrated on the Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week, a long holiday that takes place every year in the first week of May.

While each country has a different day for the holiday, the idea remains the same.  

The History of Teachers’ Day

The history of Teachers’ Day cannot be told without first understanding the role of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who served as the President of India from 1962-1967. The very first Teachers’ Day dates back to the year 1962, when President Radhakrishnan had his very first year in office. It was the year before that he had just moved up from his vice president role and become the second president that the country had ever had.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born in Andhra Pradesh to a Telegu Brahmin in 1882. When he graduated from secondary school, he attended the University of Madras, where he would receive his Masters in Philosophy. After that, he began teaching at both the University of Calcutta and the University of Mysore.

He eventually served as the Andhra University Vice Chancellor, as well as the Eastern Religions Chair of Spalding Professor at Oxford University. This information is incredibly important, as it showed he was dedicated to the process of teaching and education. It wasn’t until he became President of India that he could create a day dedicated to teachers.

As the story goes, Radhakrishnan had a group of students and friends that asked him if they could create a day to observe his birth. As the story continues, his response was, “Instead of celebrating my birthday, it would be my proud privilege if September 5th is observed as Teachers’ Day.”

As a humble man and a former teacher, he felt that creating a day to honor the teachers of India would be the best way to pay tribute to him instead of celebrating his own life. Since then, the 5th of September, which is also Radhakrishnan’s birthday, is the date of Teachers’ Day in India. Before his death in 1975, Radhakrishnan was awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest-possible civilian award in India. While he never won, he was nominated on eleven separate occasions for a Nobel Peace Prize. 

While this may be the biggest story surrounding Teachers’ Day, there are other countries with different histories of the holiday. In the United States, Teachers’ Day dates back to 1944. The National Education Association says that the U.S. Teachers’ Day was started by a man named Ryan Krug, who was a Wisconsin teacher during the time. 

Ryan Krug began corresponding with both educational and political leaders to help create a day that honored the teachers of the United States. Eleanor Roosevelt eventually received a letter in 1953, and then proceeded to persuade Congress to instate a National holiday for teachers. It wasn’t until much later on March 7, 1980, that Congress declared National Teacher Day a holiday. 

Up until 1985, the NEA and the affiliates of the NEA observed the first Tuesday in March as National Teacher Day. In March of 1985, the PTA created Teacher Appreciation Week and set it in the first week of May, which effectively moved National Teacher Day to that Tuesday. 

How to Celebrate Teachers’ Day

When it comes to celebrating World Teachers’ Day, UNESCO and Educational International band together every year to help spread the word of the importance of teachers and their development in our society. They do so by reaching out to major media organizations to create large campaigns that focus on specific themes. The themes will change from year to year. For example, the theme for 2018 was “The Right To Education Means the Right To A Qualified Teacher.”

The idea of this theme was to remind people that we cannot fulfill the right to education, a right stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, if we do not have teachers who are properly trained and qualified. UNESCO notes that everyone can celebrate teachers by spreading awareness of teachers and the issues that they face in order to respect the major impact that these teachers have on our lives. 

While celebrating World Teachers’ Day is incredibly impactful, there are about a hundred different ways to celebrate Teachers’ Day on a smaller level, each of which can be just as impactful. 

If you are a student or teacher, there are a load of ways that you can celebrate this holiday at school. One of the best ways is to get together with your school board and plan a formal gathering or assembly to honor the teachers of your school. Students can get together and make gifts or decorations with letters wishing their teachers a Happy Teachers’ Day. 

Here are some other excellent ideas for students to celebrate Teachers’ Day:

  • Get together with your student union and create gifts or souvenirs for your teachers.
  • Talk to the administration and see if the teachers can get a day off at your school to relax while senior or graduate students take over for the day. While this may seem like a crazy idea to some, this is exactly how students in Estonia celebrate Teachers’ Day.
  • Organize an essay-writing competition for students to write about teachers that have made a large impact in their lives.
  • Get together with a group of students and decorate your teacher’s classroom.

If you’re not a teacher or still in school, yet want to celebrate Teachers’ Day within your community, here are a few ideas to do so:

  • Find local businesses and see if you can set up a special discount for teachers on the day of the holiday. It’s great marketing for businesses and can help your favorite teachers acquire some discounted goods or services!
  • Organize a recreational function in honor of teachers. Get students to participate!
  • See if you can organize a community service group to perform different services for teachers who are older or retired.

If you have a way to access larger media companies or platforms, they can provide an excellent way to spread the news about Teachers’ Day. Here are some great ideas for going hand-in-hand with media platforms to celebrate Teachers’ Day:

  • See if you can get your local network or media group to sponsor a Teacher Award.
  • Ask your local media if they can send a reporter or representative over to observe a day at the school. That representative can document a day in the life of a teacher and publish it in their magazine or paper.
  • If you are in college and have a radio station, organize a group of students and create a program for the day that interviews students and teachers about their lives and impacts. It’s an excellent way to broadcast and spread the word about Teachers’ Day.

Of course, something as simple as getting a gift for your teachers on Teachers’ Day can be just as impactful as everything mentioned above. There are about a million gifts that you could possibly get for your teacher, which can make deciding a bit difficult. The best thing to do is think of something personal. Is there an inside joke that you and your teacher share? Does he or she have a hobby that you know about? A gift that draws inspiration from personal experience will always mean the most. If you don’t have that close of a relationship with your teacher, yet still want to get him or her a gift, here are some excellent gift ideas:

  • Personalized mugs or trophies are a quintessential teacher gift. Put their initials on it and maybe a small saying such as “World’s Greatest Teacher.”
  • Get them a tote bag. Tote bags are excellent and almost all teachers use them for supplies and other classroom gear.
  • Write them a note or letter that expresses your appreciation for them. Make sure to put some serious thought into it.
  • Get them some classrooms items that you know they’ll use during the year, such as cool gel pens, art supplies, new whiteboard markers, etc.
  • If you’re a culinary expert, bake your teacher some cupcakes or other delicious goods.

Celebrating the Significance of Teachers 

Teachers’ Day is meant to signify how important teachers are in the lives of the old and young. Teaching is a job of persuasion and understanding. It is one of the biggest responsibilities in the world, as teachers are the keepers of knowledge who continue to pass things down to different generations of workers, as well as future teachers. Essentially, teachers are there to help us build the best future we can possibly build.

Great teachers can help to move us forward into a future that is brighter, as they can help us to understand and comprehend the world around us using logic, facts, and other important tools that transcend human emotion. The celebration of Teachers’ Day is to honor teachers who have made these incredible contributions to all of us. 

In Radhakrishnan’s book, Political Thinkers of Modern India, he says that the education provided by our great teachers is the reason that a democratic country can survive. They help to shape a nation more than most people understand. We hope that this has inspired you to get out and show some love for the teachers who have inspired and taught you throughout your life. 

Happy Teachers’ Day!