Gifts for teachers: a kind gesture or just flattery?


In a similar scene, teachers may find themselves surrounded with gifts as they work near the holiday season.

Grace Mak, Staff Writer

With the arrival of the holiday season, it is customary for people to exchange gifts for one another, whether it may be between family members, friends, or students to teachers.

Students tend to feel less inclined to give gifts to teachers as they get older. As forming a good bond with teachers becomes more and more important, the original reason behind gift-giving becomes blurred into a way for students to suck up. This idea of flattering teachers with gifts for the holidays has become so common that both teachers and students tend to be wary of receiving or giving gifts.

This year, especially, I found that many students were hesitant about giving their teachers gifts for fear that someone would accuse them of superficial flattery. I even had one teacher express her doubts on the intentions behind gifts she received for the holidays. This came as a surprise to me because personally, I have been giving gifts to all my teachers every year since I first started public school, and it’s become a tradition that has continued to this day.

Some students argue that there are much easier ways to show appreciation to teachers, such as simply following the rules, doing well in the class, and saying thank you from time to time. Others claim that because teachers have gotten gifts every year, and the idea of sucking up to teachers has become so familiar, gifts given for the holidays appear superficial rather than heartfelt.

While this may be true, doing something out of the ordinary for the holidays can also serve as a reminder to teachers of their job’s importance. An analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development shows that teachers in the U.S. are underpaid compared to other jobs and work longer hours than teachers in other countries. Because of this, gift-giving should be seen as a kind gesture to thank teachers for their hard work in teaching students. Rather than buying nice, expensive gifts for the sole reason of making a good impression, students should find thoughtful presents that truly show their appreciation. Most teachers would freely welcome anything that comes with genuine feelings of thankfulness, and even a letter of gratitude or a unique gift tailored to that teacher’s style would suffice.

For many, gift-giving seems to have lost its true meaning and become a common form for flattery. However, both students and teachers should be reminded that from the start, gifts are simply kind gestures showing gratitude throughout the holidays.