Teacher’s Day – South Korea

Teacher’s Day is one of my favorite Korean holidays.  Its not just the cute notes, buckets of flowers, snacks and other assorted gifts.  Sure those help but what really makes me love Teacher’s Day is the realization of how much value Koreans have for teachers.temp_1431679395167.-504624130

There is a separate holiday where the entire country devotes itself to their teachers.  You could argue that its a Hallmark holiday (and i’m sure stationary stores love it) but there’s also a Teacher’s Day song that everyone knows and the day encourages students to visit their old teachers.

Teacher's Day Assembly.

Teacher’s Day Assembly.

This year was the first year I had actual visitors in the 2 hour block our school devoted for students to reunite with their old teachers.  Our students were dismissed after lunch while we had prep time and still got out 2 hours early.  Last year’s 4th graders came by in force dropping off the cutest hand written notes you’ve ever seen.

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Heart shaped papers with “I love you,” “You were my favorite teacher ever” and more were delivered.  I got a few bouquets that I’ll do my best NOT to kill (but may simply assign a student to water them) along with single carnations and roses.  Among my flowers I also found a pair of designer socks, fruit, candies and more.  I wasn’t alone in this haul; some coworkers got the inexplicably expensive “cat poop coffee” while others found hidden Starbucks gift cards among the stash.

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A recent study placed South Korea as 3rd worldwide for “math & science education.”  When you think about how many hours these kids spend studying that’s no surprise although I’d prefer if my students had a little more time to simply be kids.  Lucky for them Teacher’s Day is also a holiday where we aren’t expected to actually teach that much.  Everyone enjoyed a morning assembly with the aforementioned Teacher’s Day song before having extended playtime and a few fun lessons turned into crazy games.

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“I love your everything”

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Any ideas on how American can improve their value of teachers?  Oh and what’s your favorite (non-religious) holiday?

Mr Mike

One thought on “Teacher’s Day – South Korea

  1. I totally understand where you’re coming from! I taught in NJ before coming to Korea and in order to have a similar social life to my friends I had to pick up lots of side work with coaching & tutoring. Plenty of vacation without the finances to appreciate it.

    I had forgotten about teacher appreciation week back home. I think the main difference between Korea’s Teacher Day & NJ’s teacher week is that it comes from the kids here vs parents back home. Sure the parents here are a driving force but when the kids grow up loving & appreciating every teacher they have it generates a different kind of respect.

    Korea is really good about giving teachers a competitive salary compared to the cost of living. Combine that with my high end private school job & my friends back home think I’m always jetsetting around. Its hard to believe that its true sometimes.

    Keep on teaching and thanks for following!

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