JANUARY 14, 1953
NEW YORK, Tuesday—The 81st Congress of the United States passed a joint resolution designating the first Tuesday of March of each year as National Teachers Day. Last year the National Teachers Day Committee called upon the President to proclaim this day.
The teachers are, of course, among the most important people in our nation. Day in and day out they are at work preparing the future citizens of the U.S. The home and the school and the church together have a paramount influence that sets standards by which our children will live their lives.
I have always felt that we did not give an honorable enough place in our communities to the teachers. Next to parents they are the most important people in our communities. It is quite impossible to give teachers monetary compensation alone that will repay for their devotion to the job and the love that must go to each and every child. But I think we could compensate a little more adequately the teachers in our communities if we were conscious of their importance.
I have heard people say: "Why, it is a soft job to be a teacher. They work only eight or nine months of the year. Think of having such long holidays, and they are not really working hard at any time."
As a matter of fact, good teachers give so much of themselves every day that by the end of the week they are really tired out, and if they did not have the holidays in which to study, to travel or to relax, they could never give the children under them the inspiration that children need.
Different qualities in a teacher are needed every step of the way, and they all require training. A good elementary teacher might not do half so well with high-school children, and a teacher who is a great success with the high-school students might not know how to manage at all in the kindergarten.
A good teacher, too, must always have an alert mind and be open to new impressions and ready to acquire new knowledge. If she does not stay young in mind the pupils will soon realize that they are dealing with a narrow, static person, and their respect for her will dwindle.
It is in the classroom that many of our children get their best lessons in democracy, and the men or women teaching our children must remember that school experience is just a preparation for the wider experience of life and citizenship in a democracy.
I see by the papers that we are about to have a purge of all Communists in our educational systems, and somewhere I saw that New York City would be taken as a pattern because it had done a successful job on this.
I am afraid I have not followed very carefully what has been done here. I do not think that Communists should teach our young people, but I hope we will not reach the point where we look with suspicion on every teacher and think that anyone who tries anything new must be suggesting that we Sovietize our education.
We need many changes and, I am sure as the years go on, we will need more. But we have done a very good job in giving education to the children of our country and I hope we will continue to do so.
One way to encourage teachers is to do them honor on National Teachers Day.