By Shayna Lewis

Gone are the days of solely placing apples on desks to show our thankfulness.

On October 5, the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) will recognize our invaluable educators in honour of World Teachers’ Day. The annual event started in 1994, remembering the joint signing of the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers by UNESCO and the International Labour Organization. While we don’t want to restrict our appreciation to just one day, we would like to take this time to emphasize how integral these people are to the larger education system.

Teachers serve as the key mediators linking students with subject matter. The term ‘teaching’ inherently implies a two-way relationship, where one person imparts knowledge that is retained, comprehended, and demonstrated by a student in some capacity. Otherwise, there is merely a linear form of communication where information is sent out with no indication that the second person has grasped the idea.

A well-educated individual is not someone who can regurgitate a textbook—which can negate the need for a teacher—but rather one who can apply principles outside of the textbook. Conveying content in a way that encourages students to carry lessons beyond the concrete walls is the sign of an impactful teacher.

Education is not about teaching pupils what to think, but how to think.

This process is not one without hiccups and hardships, however—if anything, it’s quite the opposite. There are daily struggles that can manifest in focusing student attention or encountering people who make the journey a bit more trying at times. Teachers are caught between polarizing perspectives, one catering to circumstances and personal growth, and another abiding by consistent, standardized curriculums. In the meantime, the privatization of public education pushes agendas mirroring institutional mandates and discourages equal opportunities for children. Even still, new technology along with school safety and mental health issues have forced teachers to learn how to utilize resources differently in their classrooms.

We commend teachers for the constancy and persistence they demonstrate in the midst of these trials. There are an abundance of perspectives to juggle and people to please, and teachers persist in building a foundation of discipline and rationalization that all students can employ well into the future.

The beauty of public education is in its multifaceted and enduring nature, as it occurs in all areas and at all stages in one’s life. Creating an environment of unconditional acceptance that celebrates every student will enable these emerging leaders to meet their full potential.

Teachers play a crucial part in embodying this mindset. They are the heartbeat of public education continually energizing all other parts of the system, and lending the momentum that fosters students to become positive contributors to their communities.

Let us not undercut the importance of teachers. The heartbeat keeps the system alive.

(Shayna Lewis is in the final year of her undergraduate degree in Communication at the University of Ottawa. She is working at the Canadian Teachers’ Federation during the summer of 2018 as a communications assistant.)

World Teachers’ Day 2018