Gifting Headaches on Teachers’ Day

September 10th is Teacher’s Day in China. Some people believe that giving gifts on Teachers’ Day is a way of establishing interpersonal connections between parents and teachers. Most parents, even those with low salary are compelled to do so for fear that their children may not get enough attention in class, or to encourage extra care for their children.

This year’s Teachers’ Day fell on Saturday and it happened to be during the Mid-Autumn holiday. As a result, lots of parents chose to sent teachers gifts in the name of the traditional festival.

As a teacher myself, I received two boxes of Haagen-Dazs ice cream moon cakes from my students’ parents. They just dropped them off at my door and didn’t even give me a chance to say no. Moon cakes were probably the best gift this year because it represents two meanings.

Actually my favorite gifts are the hand-made cards from my students. I keep them in a box. They make me smile every time I look at them. I know my students really spent time and made efforts to draw a card for me to show their respect and gratitude. As for those expensive gifts or cash, I know for sure that these parents do this for utilitarian purposes rather than being respectful.

Many parents follow the trend worrying that everyone else is bribing teachers. A father of one of my students is a teacher too. Though he made it very clearly to his class that he wouldn’t take any gifts besides cards and flowers, he prepared expensive gifts for his daughter’s teachers. “My daughter complained about losing face as she was the only one who didn’t give gift to their teachers last year. I had no choice but to buy some this year.”

A lot of parents send gifts to teachers, hoping that it would change the teachers’ attitude towards students or put better comments on their kids’ evaluation reports. Personally, I will not do that just because the parents send me expensive gifts and I am sure that most teachers feel the same way. Moreover, kids would never make progress if they have the thoughts that they would be treated better by the teachers who take the gifts from their parents.

I saw the news that a few schools in Shanghai posted posters at school saying that teachers refuse to take any gift on Teachers’ Day. In my opinion, it’s ok to write cards or send flowers to teachers, but giving teachers precious presents and cash is a different matter. On the other hand, it is wrong if some teachers give a hint to students and parents for gifts or cash in the name of Teachers’ Day. If these teachers favor and discriminate against students based on the value of gifts they receive, it is highly unprofessional and a violation of ethics.

I hope all the teachers can refuse inappropriate gifts and remain innocent. Don’t ruin the reputation of this holy profession. Meanwhile, there should be strict restrictions on the value of a gift. If teachers accept too expensive gifts, they should be punished for taking a bribe. And parents should be punished for shoving expensive gifts into teachers.

The true meaning of Teachers’ Day is not giving or accepting gifts. It is a day when students should show special respect to their teachers and appreciate their unselfish dedication. We have to create a clean environment at schools in no time as it is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Only by eliminating this phenomenon can we hope to see a fair and healthy atmosphere at school.

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