[FOUNTAIN]Lessons for teacherA monk named Qi Ji in the Tang dynasty presented a poem about plum blossoms to the poet Zhen Gu in early spring. Zhen Gu made a correction to the poem, changing “a couple of branches blossomed” to “one branch blossomed.” The effect of the bud blooming on a branch still covered with snow became clearer. At this, Qi Ji went down to the front yard barefoot and made a deep bow, saluting Zhen Gu as a teacher.
That is how the so-called “one-word teacher” anecdote was born.
The ancestors used to serve the teachers with respect and courtesy. Lee Yi even said, “You should not look above the neck when you look at your teacher, should not scold even a dog in front of your teacher, and you should only eat 70 percent of your food when you have a meal with your teacher.”
Unlimited respect to the teachers was emphasized, but the selection of the teacher was very prudently carried out as well. Lee Hwang advised, “You are supposed to learn from your teacher both knowledge and wisdom. So you should look to the circumstances and the personal character of the teacher first. When you see a person who is diligent in teaching and eager to learn, invite him as a teacher and ask him teach your sons and grandsons.”
Today, you are assigned to a school teacher randomly. And it is no news that teachers demand their rights as workers.
A teacher of a public elementary school in France asked the parents not to send the students to school the next day, explaining he had to participate in a strike and wouldn’t be able to teach classes.
Korean parents would have been furious if a teacher wanted to skip classes for a strike. However, the very same teacher posted a letter on the school’s bulletin board at the end of the semester.
“I appreciate the presents from the parents very much. I am especially grateful for the map of the Alps. It is something I have always wanted. However, I do not deserve the binoculars you have sent me along with the map. I believe the curious children can use them better, so I would like to leave them as a class supply. Thank you very much.”
Isn’t this a model of the modern-day teacher who claims his rights and better treatments but refuse to take excessive presents.
Today is Teacher’s Day, but schools do not open this day for the purpose of preventing parents and teachers from giving and receiving gratitude or excessive gifts. Those respectable teachers must feel bitter as they look at the closed school gate.
by Lee Hoon-beom
The writer is the head of the JoongAng Ilbo’s weekend news team.