Honour thy German Teacher!


Today is World Teacher Day! It’s been celebrated every 5th October since 1994. “According to UNESCO, World Teachers’ Day represents a significant token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development.” (quote Wikipedia)

So I thought, today is a good day to look at some German teacher related words – and we have some videos, too ☺

Let’s start:

Teacher = Lehrer, but only if it’s a male teacher.
Teacher = Lehrerin, if it’s a female teacher.
Teachers = Lehrer (the same as singular), if it’s a group of male teachers.
Teachers = Lehrerinnen, if it’s a group of female teachers.

So what about a group of male and female teachers? Traditionally they were called Lehrer. It meant a group of only male teachers or a group of male and female teachers. The political correct brigade however doesn’t agree and insist on it being called Lehrer und Lehrerinnen. I personally couldn’t care less whether I am part of a group of ‘Lehrer’ or ‘Lehrer und Lehrerinnen’, but maybe I’m in a minority.

Anyway, any specialist teacher would be a …lehrer, so a German teacher is ‘ein Deutschlehrer’ or ‘eine Deutschlehrerin’, a biology teacher ‘ein Biologielehrer’, a music teacher ‘ein Musiklehrer’ etc …

Other teachers, whether in or outside school could be (and for convenience I only mention the male version):
Grundschullehrer – primary school teacher
Gymnasiallehrer – grammar school teacher
Gesamtschullehrer – comprehensive school teacher
Hilfslehrer – supply teacher
Nachhilfelehrer – private tutor
Tanzlehrer – dancing instructor

Of course, German nouns can also start with the word ‘Lehrer’, for example:
das Lehrerzimmer – staff room at school
der Lehrermangel – lack of teachers
die Lehrerschwemme – surplus of teachers
das Lehrerkollegium – teaching staff
das Lehrerhandbuch – teacher’s manual
das Lehrerpult – teacher’s desk

But  what is a ‘Pauker’? If you don’t know, I’ll give you the answer after the videos.

Max & Moritz play a trick on the teacher, a story from Wilhelm Busch, written 1865, read by Angelika Davey in 2019 ☺

And the last video is about clichés some Germans have about teachers. Do they sound familiar?

And the answer to my question?

Pauker is another word for teacher. It is (or more precise, was) what pupils would call a teacher (behind their back, I assume). A Pauker is somebody who hits things, like a drummer, and in the olden days teachers used to hit pupils. As that isn’t the case anymore, the word doesn’t seem to be used anymore. The verb ‘pauken’, however, which means to swot or to learn intensively, is still used.

So, as it’s World Teacher Day, honour your Deutschlehrerin and do some pauken, while I’m having a break ☺

Lehrerin macht pause


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