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He Who Is a Teacher Shall Worry Too Much to Sleep and Eat Wel

On September 10, 2020, Professor Bai Jianjun, winner of the Teaching Achievement Award of Peking University, made a speech at the Ceremony of Teachers’ Day. The following is a transcript of his speech.

On this Teachers’ Day, I would like to share my experience——“illusions mislead me”——with the young Peking University students.

The first is “character illusion”. Before, I thought that writing was about writing something what the readers didn’t know while I did know, such is the same in teaching. However, no reader or no student is a blank sheet of paper. Writing is, in fact, about communicating with the readers and teaching is about activating what student has already known. In this regard, I start to write as a reader, to prepare lessons on students’ desks, and additionally, write and teach from the perspectives of readers and students. As a result, there are fewer rejections of my papers and I find more and more pleasure in interacting with the students.

The second is “discipline illusion”. Before, I thought that my field of study was my wonderland and my only window into the world. However, when everyone sees the world only through the window of his own discipline, the whole world will be artificially dismembered. The mission of the university is not to cut up the world, but to discover what it actually is. One accidental occasion, I looked outward from the Legal Science Fortress by chance and touched the statistics, the information science and the finance. Consequently, cross-research fully opens me: there are too many topics to choose from while I am equipped with too little knowledge.




The third is “teacher-student illusion”. In one class, I asked my students: “Have you ever seen the sun for the tomorrow?” Hundreds of children were quiet, then I said: “I have seen it as you all are my sun for the tomorrow!” At that moment, some students wept. But now, I would like to solemnly declare: we should give up the “heliocentric theory”. Teachers or students, who is the future? According to the “heliocentric theory”, students are the future of teachers while in fact the reverse is the truth: teachers are the future of students. The way teachers speak and act on the stage, the way they ask and answer questions, write paper or just the daily behaviors, are all secretly passing something onto the students. Now, when I see a student become a college teacher and get praise from their students, when I find a student thesis have the same problem I once had, when I hear a student step away from the law after graduation while still learn my way of getting along with the other, my only feeling is the fear! Today, we have this opportunity to meet world’s talents. Tomorrow, they will remember us through all kinds of things. Among these memories may not all are thanks. Therefore, he who is a teacher shall worry too much to sleep and eat well.

The abovementioned illusions have held me back for years, otherwise, I would have done better.

Translated by Wang Jiaqi

Edited by Lu Yiyin