What is World Teachers’ Day?

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I read yesterday that there are more planets in the universe than seconds have passed since the Big Bang. It’s not even close - 20 sextillion planets (conservatively calculated as one planet per star) to 435 quadrillion seconds, so like 46,000 times more planets. I love the perspective achievable by data like these - it takes me out of my tiny bubble and reminds me how many moving parts there are. It seems pretty crazy that we have yet to find a planet with aliens wandering around, or one where we could move our adventurous population, or one full of rainbow-colored waterfalls.

Some other interesting data: there are 105 day-of-the-year events listed for October on daysoftheyear.com, averaging 3.4 per day, not including the actual holiday of Halloween. That’s a lot to celebrate. International Teacher Day (synonymous) shares October 5 with Card Making Day, Lash Stylists’ Day and three others. October 18th is Chocolate Cupcake Day, June 14th is Cupcake Day, April 3rd is Poet in a Cupcake Day, December 15th is Lemon Cupcake Day, and World Tripe Day has October 24th all to itself, naturally, because everyone just loves tripe. Most of these “special” celebrations are designated on the daysoftheyear.com calendar, and in fact you can submit for approval anything you like to start marketing your day to potentially build a nice following on social media. There are a handful of sites that offer this service.

 

So I wondered - how do we differentiate between routine advertising and true cause for celebration and appreciation? Is World Teachers’ Day just another consolation trophy or does it affect positive change?

World Teachers’ Day was established in 1994 to commemorate the signing of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. From the foreword, “It sets forth the rights and responsibilities of teachers, and international standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, teaching and learning conditions. It also contains many recommendations for teachers’ participation in educational decisions through consultation and negotiation with  educational authorities.” After 21 years of research and commitment to education UNESCO decided in 1966 to address conditions for teachers worldwide. From Wikipedia: ”World Teachers' Day aims to focus on ‘appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world’ and to provide an opportunity to consider issues related to teachers and teaching.”

 

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, founded in 1945, based in Paris, operating under the umbrella of the United Nations and currently having 193 member states. UNESCO’s Mission & Mandate outlined on their website under the In Brief tab summarizes their many commitments and goals. My favorite is “UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance.” The goals are peace and the prevention of war, so the culprits are ignorance and hatred, and the tool is education.

UNESCO is gigantic, focusing on education locally and internationally. Following are some of my favorite samples of their open source library, which is humongous.

Focus on education:

Focus on policy:

Focus on cultural well-being:

Once again, the scale of Unesco, measured by pages or by people, is astronomical and reminds me just how huge the world is outside my bubble and how many moving parts are required to make this marble work.

 

You might read all this and say to yourself “I already knew all this, duh,” but I didn’t. Most of us can’t remember which organization does what and how they are funded and what is their focus and whether they affect positive change or engage in crooked politics. It’s like anything; thousands of articles and research for and against everything to the point where, unless you are personally affected, you may just not care or never need to follow up. In point of fact, the United States withdrew from UNESCO in 2017. Support for withdrawal cited the organization’s policies of hostility toward free society and free markets and an anti-Israel bias. Others point to inflammatory budgets and a dilution of American influence through UNESCO as its membership has grown. I don’t intend to rile up a sociopolitical debate; I’m just pointing out that the waters are always murky in the international policy pond. Sometimes it’s easier just to shut out the noise.

Maybe you wonder how anyone can be ignorant to such an enormous and established humanitarian organization, but I think I’m pretty normal. I had a great education in a medium-sized city, went to college, have a grown-up life and a grown-up job. I suspect that MOST people are unaware of UNESCO and its efforts and accolades. MOST Americans will pass out candy on Halloween, many will make cupcakes on June 14th, a couple might eat tripe on October 24th, but less than 50% will recognize World Teachers’ Day, and far less of that 50% will activate. World Teachers’ Day IS UNESCO’s DAY, and that of all the teachers, professional and otherwise, around the globe. Regardless of our country’s participation in the organization, the spirit of October 5 is positive. It’s a celebration of educators and education in the essence of peace, culture and sustainability on our planet.

 

How can we help?

  • Show gratitude - say thanks to teachers, on this day and others. Feeling appreciated goes a long way to maintaining motivation to do your best. Teachers feel the same.

  • Offer support - go into the classroom (when invited) or participate outside to help teachers do their jobs well.

  • Become a teacher - you don’t need a degree to educate someone on something you know well. 

  • Be mindful - whether you follow policy or steer clear, send positive thoughts out into the world for the advancement of education and positive change.

  • Celebrate - learning is an amazing process. It’s rewarding, fun and necessary. Embrace it with joy.


Here are a few classes related to this topic:

Ike Martinson
Ike is addicted to life in the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys the mountains, the lakes, the food, the people and all the seasons. He is an amateur chef, a commercial pilot and a terrible painter.