World Teacher’s Day is coming up! On October 5, 2012, people all around the world will be celebrating teachers and showing appreciation for the vital contribution that they make to education and development. In the spirit of this important event, I thought I would give a very brief history of why students give apples to teachers and where this tradition came from.
The most popular explanation for this tradition suggests that throughout the 16th to 18th century, teachers had fairly low incomes, so farming communities would give teachers apples and potatoes to help them out financially. Often, families whose children went to school were responsible for housing and feeding their teachers. A similar theory suggests that parents that didn’t make much money from their farm would pay for their child’s education with food – again, mostly with baskets of apples or potatoes, as they were fairly common crops. As teachers began to earn more money, the amount of apples each student brought in started to decline. Eventually, bringing in only one apple became a tradition rather than a necessity.
The second explanation can be traced to the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. In the book of Genesis, Eve is said to have eaten fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The story does not specifically mention apples, but many have made the assumption that this is what was consumed and as a result, apples represent knowledge. Since teachers impart knowledge to their students, the apple is a fitting symbol.
It’s clear from both explanations that bringing a teacher an apple is a way to show appreciation for their hard work. This tradition might not be commonly practiced today, but there are lots of other ways to let your teacher know how much you value them. Make sure you let your teacher know how important they are! And stay tuned for more about World Teacher’s Day…
Flickr photo via michellerocks (: