Teacher Appreciation Week differs in other countries

Matt Moore
June 11, 2010

Everyone knows about Teacher Appreciation Week, yet hardly any students celebrate the people who sacrifice everyday to impart knowledge on us. In America, Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated in the first full week of May. Teacher Appreciation Day is the Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week. But how did Teacher Appreciation Week get its start?

In America, Teacher Appreciation Week began in 1944 when Wisconsin teacher Ryan Krug wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt about the need of a national day to honor teachers. In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt convinced the eighty-first Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day. In 1980, Congress declared the first Tuesday in March to be National Teacher Day. Five years later, the Parent Teacher Association declared the first full week of May to be National Teacher Appreciation Week; subsequently the NEA declared the Tuesday of National Teacher Appreciation Week to be National Teacher Appreciation Day. Some states have gone even farther than that; Massachusetts in 1976 declared Sept. 7 as “Teacher’s Day.” Now Massachusetts celebrates teachers traditionally on the first Sunday of June.

However, America by far and away is not the only country to celebrate teachers traditionally. In fact, there are over 60 countries that have an official Teacher’s Week or Day, including Afghanistan, India, the Philippines and Taiwan. In Afghanistan, it is called “Da Maleem Wraz” where all the students and teachers gather at schools to celebrate. They bring special foods and presents to give to the teachers. In India it is celebrated on the birthday of the second president of India, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, and is called “Shikshak Divas.”

In Taiwan, it is called “Grand Ceremony Dedicated to Confucius” and is traditionally celebrated Sept. 28, which is the Gregorian calendar date of his birthday. It is a major event and has many rituals as well. Every student sends gifts and cards to their teachers. In Confucius temples all over the country there are celebrations that start early in the morning and end late at night. It begins with drum beats in the morning. Later 54 dancers in robes with blue belts appear, and 64 dancers in robes with yellow belts appear. These ceremonies are led by the direct descendant of Confucius, who is considered to be the “model master educator.” Then they sacrifice three animals: a cow, a goat and a pig.

When you compare it to our week of celebration, ours seems pretty mild. However, there are many things you can do to show appreciation for your teachers. PTA suggests homemade gifts, something special that is unique to the teacher, and isn’t “one-size-fits-all.” You could also send notes of appreciation, or you could give them certificates for practical gifts, for example a certificate for the students to wash the teacher’s car. You could even give them class supplies. Whatever you do, just make sure you do something to show teachers how much you appreciate them, whether it be today, or the first full week of May. Remember, Teacher Appreciation Day is May 4.

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