Wai Khru

Respect the teacher day

Neil Jarrett, who moved from London to teach internationally, has found a lot to value in his new job in Thailand

Teaching stresses

4 years ago, I was teaching at a primary school in London.  Many of the pupils had behavioural difficulties and parents regularly blamed the teachers for every issue that arose.  School inspectors looked for problems, not solutions; the government meddled with all aspects of the profession, constantly citing low literacy levels and fostering a negative rhetoric of, “holding teachers to account”.

This was 4 years ago, and from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s only got worse.

All too often, the UK media focus on the number of holidays teachers have and paint a poor picture of the profession.  Try typing ‘teacher headlines’ into a search engine and you will see a barrage of negative results:

‘Teacher Recruitment Crisis Means the Calibre of Teachers is Getting Worse’

‘Teachers May Not Know the Subjects They Cover’ 

’13 Year-old Girl Crushed by Tree During Teacher Strike”

‘Teachers Wasting Time by Marking in Coloured Pens

There was a lack of respect for teachers – yes, the people responsible for educating the future generation of Great Britain. 

Time for a change

By chance, I saw an advert for a primary school teaching position at an international school in Bangkok, Thailand and decided to give it a go.  It was the best move I have ever made. Thailand fosters a very respectful culture and teachers are viewed as important members of society.  The pupils are hungry to learn and very well behaved. Quite often, I am thanked for a lesson!

On entry to a classroom I will often be greeted with a Wai (a slight bow, with hands placed in a prayer-like fashion).  The higher the hands are raised, the more respect is being shown. This is the same in schools all over the country.  Parents are very supportive; instead of blaming teachers and complaining, they hold their children to account and ask how they can help.

The Thai government recognises the importance of teachers.  Salaries are some of the highest in the public sector.  In addition, they ensure that the culture of respect is maintained.  ‘Wai Khru’ – respect the teacher day, happens yearly.

This is an incredible experience, where all of the students bring in flower garlands and other gifts for their teachers.

In an assembly, held on the day, the students kneel before the teacher and present their gifts whilst saying ‘Kob Khun Kap’ – thank you.

Wai Khru days

This is why the UK and many other countries need to start building a culture of respect for teachers by introducing their own Wai Khru day. I’m not saying that it should be exactly the same as in Thailand; just a day in which all teachers are celebrated in and out of school.

Initiating this at a national level would surely filter down and raise the status and ethos of the job in the country.  Respect is important for both teachers and pupils because learning would certainly increase with a changed mindset of children and parents.

The vast majority of teachers work incredibly hard to help students learn and deserve respect.

Wouldn’t it be rewarding if we saw headlines such as:

‘A Well Deserved Holiday for Teachers’ 

‘Ofsted Rates Teachers Outstanding’

‘Government Trusts Teachers to Teach’

One can dream . . . . . .


Neil Jarrett

Neil is a Year 6 teacher and maths coordinator at an international school in Bangkok, Thailand. He has a Masters Degree in education and is interested in teaching ideas and educational technology to support student learning. He tweets from @EdtechNeil and his blog is EdTech4Beginners.



Feature Image: Pixabay

You may also like