|TERESA DA SILVA|
UNESCO proclaimed 5 October to be World Teachers’ Day (WTD) in 1994, a day for teachers to be appreciated and remembered. The date overlaps with an historic day for Portugal: Republic Day, also known as the Implantation of the Republic, that is, the day our fragile monarchy ceased to exist and a republican government led the country’s fortune.
WTD was established in an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of the role played by teachers all over the world for the responsibility for educating future generations is not a light one. It came as a celebration of the advances achieved in Paris in 1966 when a special intergovernmental conference convened and adopted a set of recommendations concerning the status of teachers. 5th October became a time around which special attention would be (is) given to looking at and addressing issues related to the teaching profession.
In this context of global village, a teacher no longer confines his/her knowledge nor does he/she limit his/her teaching to the classroom or textbook. Teachers need to teach global citizens and, thus, WTD is a form of discussing national issues through the eyes of many peers in different countries. A national problem faces an international panel of helpers who put forth their experience and progress to aid others.
There are always several events taking place locally but linked to the wider programme or guideline established every year. This year, the theme was “Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status” and here, in Portugal, three events took place: in Coimbra, in Lisbon and in Portimão.
However, I only know that now because I researched about WTD! Had it not been for social media the date would have simply slipped by as another public holiday which I’d have spent cuddled up in the warmth of my room. Grateful for the rest but not able to relax enough to avoid lesson planning and homework correction, I spent the day immersed in papers with my laptop for company. I did manage to get a load of paperwork off my hands and was pretty satisfied with the overall result of all my planning. Yet, looking back I regret not having taken a moment or two to think about the teachers who inspired me throughout my life as a student. I am sorry I didn’t take time to acknowledge that I have the right to not bring work home after the hours I give to my students and to the school. I pity the fact that I didn’t spend some time reassessing myself as a person and as a teacher.
At the end of the day, did I use WTD as an opportunity to appreciate myself and the work I do, or did I just spend another day getting the job done without any concern for the wellbeing of the profession and the people involved?