The 5th of October, since 1994, the World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The 1966 Recommendation provides the main reference when it comes to teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.
Worthwhile to remember what Alfred Marshall said in 1890.
The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. (Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718)
It seems that with the “refeudalisation of society” we face the situation that the positions of the revolutionaries of the olden times, whose authors had been yesterday’s conservatives, are becoming joining on the side of the revolutionaries again. In this light there is also something about the illustration, ensuring to sin – surely not catholic-literally but to accept that pupils and students are partners.
Worthwhile a note on the world and China: on September the 10th I received a mail from 张伟, a former student of mine – well, she would say “a student of mine”, skipping the word “former”. She sent her congrats and best wishes for the teachers day. First I was puzzled – did she mix up the date? 2018, the Chinese teachers’ day is on the 10th of September, the world teachers’ day on October 5th, a simple explanation. I checked later on the web and found something that is … – well, I leave it up to you to think about it:
10 September is an official holiday in China. This day the whole country fetes educators and teachers. This holiday, in its different interpretations, has been existed in China as early as the Middle Ages. Teachers and coaches have always been honored and respected in China. Very often teachers acted as mentors throughout the whole life; especially it is true for the traditional Chinese martial arts.
It also says something on the reason of making it a public holiday: the official acknowledgment of teachers – as intellectuals – and their important role in boosting the development of the country. Also
Since the school system in China is based on the Western model, many old traditions in honor of teachers have not been preserved today.
One may have different opinions on this, the political background …, well. But at least it seems to be worthwhile to mention that there is a deed in the one part of the world, and that there are just words, probably widely unspoken, unwritten, unheard, unread … in another part of the world.
Worthwhile a personal note:
Only recently, visiting with a friend the Kunsthalle in Munich, I remembered one point of all this, when standing with her in front of one of Emmanuel Maignan’s works, the “Anamorfosi San Francesco di Paola”. A pleasure to experience the amazement of both of us. Though it had not been about a visit with a student, it is very similar anyway: Something of learning together and admitting that it is about the experience of being caught by what one sees – in this case actually being caught by what one does not see: the praying person only visible from two specified angles, the sides. It reminded me of having used Holbein’s equally magnificent work “Gli Ambasciatori” for showing the same effect: the hiding of something, the fact of leaving something invisible for those who lack the enlightenment – an enlightenment that is emerging from the standpoint, the perspective. Never having seen the original of Holbein’s work, seeing something similar entailed still the experience of being amazed. – What foolish teacher would say s/he knows the one and only perspective. Doesn’t such perspective emerge only from putting together experiences, that may at some stage get stuck, paralyse the experienced if it goes together with closing the eyes, blocking off, not allowing new experiences to be made; and even more: not allowing looking at something “known” through new spectacles and of course forcing looking at the new through the old glasses.
Teachers’ Day – an opportunity to congratulate students, and to thank my students for allowing me to learning together with them.
Obviously there is no answer to the question which Lessing once put to the utilitarian philosophers of his time: “And what is the use of use?” The perplexity of utilitarianism is that it gets caught in the unending chain of means and ends without ever arriving at some principle which could justify the category of means and end, that is, of utility itself.
 Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition. Introduction by Margaret Canovan; Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998: 154
Hum, in general Augustine is classified as theologian and philosopher … – and in general one can suppose that people’s remarks are based at least to some extent on personal experience. If so, and thinking for example about extremely high fees students have to pay, university administrator’s incomes increasing more than that of lecturers, and then looking at the fancy dresses of many priests, I am wondering what to make out of the following:
[I]t was Augustine who proposed to found not only the Christian ‘brotherhood’ but all human relationships on charity. But this charity, though its wordlessness clearly corresponds to the general human experience of love, is at the same time clearly distinguished from it being something, which, like the world, is between men: ‘Even robbers have between them [inter se] what they call charity.’
(quoted from Hannah Arendt’s Human Condition, with reference to Augustine’s Contra Faustum Manichaeum)
How academia today undermines knowledge and beauty.
“In his youth Albert Einstein spent a year loafing aimlessly. You don’t get anywhere by not ‘wasting’ time – something, unfortunately, which the parents of teenagers tend frequently to forget. He was in Pavia. He had joined his family having abandoned his studies in Germany, unable to endure the rigours of his high school there. It was the beginning of the twentieth century, and in Italy the beginning of its industrial revolution. His father, an engineer, was installing the first electrical power plants in the Paduan plains. Albert was reading Kant and attending occasional lectures at the University of Pavia: for pleasure, without being registered there or having to think about exams. It is thus that serious scientists are made.”
“Finally, in November 1915, he committed to print an article giving the complete solution: a new theory of gravity, which he called ‘The General Theory of Relativity’, his masterpiece and the ‘most beautiful of theories’, according to the great Russian physicist Lev Landau.
There are absolute masterpieces which move us intensely: Mozart’s Requiem; Homer’s Odyssey; the Sistine Chapel; King Lear. To fully appreciate their brilliance may require a long apprenticeship, but the reward is sheer beauty – and not only this, but the opening of our eyes to a new perspective upon the world. Einstein’s jewel, the general theory of relativity, is a masterpiece of this order.”
[By Phil Squattrito – Flickr: Undercarriage, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17586908 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bridge#/media/File:Tridge_Undercarriage.jpg%5D
What we have today is in effect a dual system, the official one of the “national economies” of states, and the real but largely unofficial one of transnational units and institutions . . . [U]nlike the state with its territory and power, other elements of the ‘nation’ can be and easily are overridden by the globalization of the economy. Ethnicity and language are the two obvious ones. Take away state power and coercive force, and their relative insignificance is clear.
(Hobsbawm, Eric, The Nation and Globalization; in: Constellations, 5_1.1998: 4f.)
It is Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, Seollal in Korea, where the Olympic Games may be part of what they claim to be: a step to the peaceful unification of two countries, which would be a real and global platinum medal – and it is about celebrating and leisure time. Let us join in this difficult matter.
… unfortunately human nature improves slowly, and in nothing more slowly than in the hard task of learning to use leisure well. In every age, in every nation, and in every rank of society, those who have known how to work well, have been far more numerous than those who have known how to use leisure well. But on the other hand it is only through freedom to use leisure as they will, that people can learn to use leisure well; and no class of manual workers, who are devoid of leisure, can have much self-respect and become full citizens. Some time free from the fatigue of work that tires without educating, is a necessary condition of a high standard of life.
[Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718]
The following from Montaigne’s essay may also make us think about academia and the life in what is called academic world:
It happens as with cages: the birds without despair to get in, and those within despair of getting out.
Book III, Ch. 5. Upon some Verses of Virgil
Arts and sciences are not cast in a mould, but are formed and perfected by degrees, by often handling and polishing, as bears leisurely lick their cubs into form.
Book II, Ch. 12. Apology for Raimond Sebond
Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.
Book II, Ch. 12. Apology for Raimond Sebond
For the Image: