SHAFAQNA- The International Teachers day is held annually on October 5. What follows is the viewpoint of Ayatollah Khamenei about value and status of teachers in making humans.
We hold teachers in great respect and that we are indebted to them because of what they did for ourselves and because of what they do for our children and for those whose future is important to us. This feeling is shared by all the people. All of us are indebted to teachers.
What is related to teachers is that dear teachers should know their job is not only teaching. In other words, their job is not only to teach the textbooks that are available to them. Teachers should promote knowledge, teach the way to think and strengthen morality in themselves. If we consider teaching to have a broad meaning, it will include these three tasks:
The first task is promoting knowledge and teaching the textbooks that our children – the future men and women of the country – should learn. This is one task.
The second task, which is more important, is teaching how to think. Our children should learn how to think in a proper and reasonable way. They should be properly guided about how to think. Shallow outlooks and shallow learning of the issues of life cripple a society. In the long run, it destroys a people. Thinking should be firmly established in society.
This is why when we mention someone like Shahid Motahhari, we do not only speak about his knowledge. We speak about his thinking as well. If someone knows how to think, this spirit will help them to discover the important issues of knowledge. If our youth, our scholars and our scientists are thinkers, they will use the knowledge that they have to pose tens and hundreds of new questions and to get answers for these questions. So, using knowledge is only possible with thinking.
The third task is behavioral and moral education and what the honorable minister referred to in his statements: lifestyle and behavior. We are a people with lofty ideals, with great slogans and with clear and definite peaks that we want to reach – if there is time, I will briefly address this issue later on. This requires patient, wise, religious, innovative, kind, compassionate, courageous, polite and pious individuals who are ready to take action, who avoid laziness and who consider others’ pains to be their own pains.
The mold and make-up of a person that Islam wants to build are shaped through education. All people can be educated. Some people may learn late and some may learn sooner than others. Some learn more efficiently and some learn less efficiently than others. But all individuals are subject to change and this change takes place with education. Primarily, this falls on the shoulders of certain main elements one of which is a teacher. Of course, parents, friends and other such people are influential as well, but the influence that a teacher exerts is deeper and more permanent. This is a task that teachers should carry out.
A teacher’s role in Islamic society
Teachers are responsible for training people who will run the country in the not so distant future. Your young students will soon be responsible for the affairs of our society, no matter at what level they are. Prominent figures of the future are among your students. Sincere mujahids of the future are among your students. The competent people who will manage the economy and culture of this country are among the children who come to your class. You are responsible for training them to do their future duties well and bring about progress, not retrogression and corruption. Notice how important your job is.
As I said, your influence as a teacher is in certain cases even stronger than genetic factors. Human beings are born with certain genetic tendencies, but it is possible to change these tendencies through practice. And teachers can play a role in this regard and help their students change their tendencies through practice. That is to say, you can train individuals who are truly to the level of Islam. You can train a workforce that is to the level of the Islamic Republic. This is the role that teachers should play. These are not compliments: they are facts.
One of the things that is necessary to do is that our people and government officials, young and old, should appreciate the importance of teachers. They should appreciate the value of teachers. These things are essential. The media and government officials should play a role in this regard. This should not be reduced to ceremonial gestures. It is necessary to help people realize the importance of the role that a teacher plays in class – the gentleman or lady who spends his life on educating our youth and children. Of course, teachers should also understand their role appropriately and appreciate the importance of the role they play. This is essential. Therefore, teachers and Teachers’ Day are very valuable.
Imam Khomeini’s opinion about the role of a teacher
Imam Khomeini (may God bestow paradise on him) once said: “Teaching is the occupation of the prophets.” This is not merely a spirit-lifting motto, rather this is a Quranic truth: “Send among them a messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Your signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom,” [The Holy Quran, 2: 129]. One of the characteristics shared among the prophets was teaching: this means that you are taking the same path as the best of humans throughout history. Those individuals — the prophets — were sent to achieve goals resulting from teaching.
The unique impact and role of public education, in matters of the progression and serenity of the country, is an especially important issue. In my opinion, this is an obvious matter, although some people do not, unfortunately, understand this obvious issue correctly. The educational system is the main infrastructure for the bliss of a nation and the progress of a country; in the Islamic Republic, this is a movement towards ideals.
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