How significant are teachers in a child’s life?

Written by John Harris

As social animals, our mental health and emotional well-being depends on social inclusion, it is important at every stage of life. We have learned from the Covid lockdowns and remote schooling experience the real importance of going to school or college, of being part of the face to face, social group, of being “included”. We gain energy and motivation from the interaction with others.

Schools and colleges are not just about “education”, but the whole, social person, they play a significant role in socialisation and our mental well-being. 

Through integration and inclusion in school, children and young adults have human social needs met and there are profound impacts on their mental health, coping skills, sense of self, behaviour, happiness, and emotional well-being. 

Schools can provide a safe sanctuary in an otherwise chaotic life. Teachers can provide a valuable adult role model from outside the family.

Teachers are perhaps the most significant “other” in any child’s life, outside of their immediate family, parents, grandparents, or carers.

I shall always remember my daughter coming home from primary school one day and saying “My teacher, Miss Williams says …. !“   I cannot remember quite what Miss Williams said, but it was clearly more important than anything I had said!

This is not surprising. Children spend a considerable amount of their lives at school, part of their world outside of the family is shared at school with their peers and significantly influential adults. 38 weeks per year, 5 days each week, from 08.30 until about 15.30, = 1330 hrs gives 22.7% of waking time. You can also add a few more hours of influence during after school clubs and sporting activities.

What has made us so different from other animals on Earth? Humans have acquired speech and language, not just a voice or vocabulary of calls, but a complex vocabulary of words which create images in our mind’s eye, our imagination! Language is a tool for thought, understanding and knowledge. 

This allows each generation to rapidly share their own learning with the next generation and not simply to depend on instinct or trial and error to impart those lessons of survival, improvement, skills, knowledge.

Back to our ancient ancestors, who sitting around the home fire, shared their stories, songs, anecdotes, beliefs, culture, mores, norms, ideas…. This short cut to experience and a safe form of learning has given human beings the edge on survival and evolution.

We are hard wired to enjoy stories, and this is where, in my humble opinion, the great value of the teacher stands. As storytellers, as guardians, as holders and sharers of knowledge, passing on human “word-power” to the next generation.

Question 1: What is the oldest profession in the world? You probably got that wrong with any response based on the adage. For your information, I would propose that TEACHING is the oldest profession in the world.

Question 2:  What is the largest profession in the world? I would guess the answer is also TEACHING. In 2020 - 5.4 million teachers employed in primary and secondary schools in the EU.  As of 2020, across the whole world  – 94 million and counting! Source – UNESCO institute for Statistics.

What is the most enjoyable profession in the world? Please give your answers and examples on the Inscool Facebook page!

How does it feel to be a member of the oldest, largest, most important profession in the world? “A Serious Responsibility?”

After thought …  Dates for your diary:

World teachers’ day 5 Oct 2023 -
National “Thank a teacher day (UK)” 21st June 2023 -

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