BBC Radio Leicester Thought for the Day

© John Denney 25 April 2008




Today, all those teachers who were on strike will be returning to work to face their pupils.  They were on strike because they don't think they're paid enough.  But I'd suggest that really, behind their pay claim, the teachers feel that they aren't respected enough.


My son has been a teacher in Japan for many years, and there a teacher is highly respected.  I was with him once when a group of his teenage pupils chanced across our path.  It was astonishing.  They gave the deepest, almost reverential bows to him, their sensei, their rôle model.


There was a time, of course, when teachers were highly respected pillars of the community here, along with other professionals like doctors and solicitors and clergymen.  But our society has changed over the years, and not always for the better.  The mark of a professional used to be that they put the interests of their client before their own; whether they would be paid or not made no difference to them acting for the client.  And a strike over pay was quite unthinkable.


Jesus was frequently addressed as rabbi, or teacher, and on the first Easter Sunday, Mary even called him rabboni, which is a term of great respect, meaning something greater than a teacher, more like "Master".


Perhaps if we started showing respect to those who teach our children, they wouldn't feel so inclined to disrupt their pupils' education.  And maybe we should start showing more respect to one another.  Because if you're respected, you feel more inclined to go the extra mile.  Mutual respect is a win-win situation.