5th September. We loved this day in school – because we didn’t need to take any study books and there would be no lessons. We’d carry hand-made cards and flowers for the teachers instead.
It would be a day of entertainment, where senior students would take to the stage and the teachers, usually seated in the front row of the auditorium, would watch the show along with the rest of the school. The teachers would be treated to a special lunch in the school’s hostel dining room, and they’d often get some nice useful gift from the school management, on behalf of all the students.
We’d feel it personally at home, because Mom was a school teacher herself, and ran a nursery school for toddlers for a few decades. She still has many of the precious gifts that students gave her.
Teachers’ Day is the birthday of India’s first Vice-President and second President, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. When he was President, instead of celebrating his birthday, he suggested that teachers (and he was one himself) be celebrated on that day, because he felt that “Teachers should be the best minds in the country”.
In Finland, Dr R’s thoughts are actually being practised. Becoming a teacher is a rigorous process, and only the exceptional make it. It’s supposed to be easier to become a doctor or a lawyer than a teacher!
The formal teachers and coaches we have in schools and colleges are usually the ones who shape our future, but at a broad level, all of us are teachers – in some way, to some one. And at times, the most unsuspecting creatures and circumstances teach us the most useful and valuable things in life. When we were children, my mom used to often recite a verse about King Bruce of Scotland, and the lessons he learnt from a spider.
Happy Teachers’ Day
by Eliza Cook
King Bruce of Scotland flung himself down
In a lonely mood to think;
‘Tis true he was monarch, and wore a crown,
But his heart was beginning to sink.
For he had been trying to do a great deed,
To make his people glad;
He had tried and tried, but couldn’t succeed
And so he became quite sad.
He flung himself down in low despair,
As grieved as man could be;
And after a while he pondered there,
“I’ll give it all up,” said he.
Now just at that moment a spider dropped,
With its silken, filmy clue;
And the King, in the midst of his thinking, stopped
To see what the spider would do.
‘Twas a long way up to the ceiling dome,
And it hung by a rope so fine;
That how it would get to its cobweb home,
King Bruce could not divine.
It soon began to cling and crawl
Straight up with strong endeavour;
But down it came with a slippery sprawl,
As near to the ground as ever.
Up, up it ran, not a second to stay,
To utter the least complaint;
Till it fell still lower, and there it lay,
A little dizzy and faint.
Its head grew steady — again it went,
And travelled a half-yard higher;
‘Twas a delicate thread it had to tread,
And a road where its feet would tire.
Again it fell and swung below,
But again it quickly mounted;
Till up and down, now fast, now slow,
Nine brave attempts were counted.
“Sure,” cried the King, “that foolish thing
Will strive no more to climb;
When it toils so hard to reach and cling,
And tumbles every time.”
But up the insect went once more,
Ah me! ’tis an anxious minute;
He’s only a foot from his cobweb door,
Oh say, will he lose or win it?
Steadily, steadily, inch by inch,
Higher and higher he got;
And a bold little run at the very last pinch
Put him into his native cot.
“Bravo, bravo!” the King cried out,
“All honour to those who try;
The spider up there defied despair;
He conquered, and why shouldn’t I?”
And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind,
And gossips tell the tale,
That he tried once more as he tried before,
And that time did not fail.