National Teachers Day - January 16th 2017

By Kevin Cain

Being tasked with writing about this auspicious day, I must admit that I was unaware that it actually existed. However, as somebody who has a teaching certificate and knows what it is to teach English in Thailand, I was keen to delve deeper into the matter.Wan Kru or Teacher’s Day is celebrated every year on January the 16th in Thailand, and as part of the celebration it is also a school holiday. The day in essence is a day of remembrance, when teachers gather together to remember their teachers.

Wan Kru loosely translated means Hard Day but in this context it actually means hard-working career. Although the celebration is fairly recent, with the very first being held in 1957, it has continued to be held nationwide ever since. The events on the day include a ceremony of paying respect to the teacher by chanting a Pali prayer, which in turn offers up strength and unity amongst the teaching fraternity.There is of course religious connotations to the day, such as offering food to monks and pouring water as a sign of dedication of merit to the old teachers.

Confucius once said, “A true teacher is one who, keeping the past alive, is also able to understand the present.” And this is perfectly true of the good mentors out there, who toil daily to give the children the tools they need to survive life. That is why in Thailand, children are taught by their parents to respect their teachers and to understand how important their teachings are. On the day, all students come to school with flowers and prostrate at their teacher’s feet to give thanks and respect. The flowers hold great symbolism, the bouquets given to the teachers have three specific flowers in them: one for wit, one for respect, and the other for perseverance. In performing the ritual, the students are thanking the teachers for having been taught well in the past, while hoping to gain merit, and good luck for the future.

So the day serves two real purposes, it offers the opportunity for the teachers to remember their old past tutors, and also for present day students to pass their respects onto their current instructors and ask for their blessings for their future good luck in learning.impressions last a lifetime, and the lessons learned will be passed down to others, almost like inheritances of wisdom. So it is fitting that on January the 16th, teachers have a special day where we can all celebrate one of the noblest and most selfless callings of all.