Last evening, at a coffee shop, I overheard a very interesting conversation between two teachers. Excited as I was, I quickly went up to them and greeted them ahead of Teacher's Day. They are both excited that the special day is around the corner, but one of them sounded quite hassled too. Her school continues to allow the practice of students gifting teachers on Teacher's Day and that is creating 'differences' between students. Each student wants to outshine the other with a 'big gift' and this is creating an unwanted 'materialistic competition'. She summed up stating she really wished the school banned the habit of gifting by students on Teacher's Day.
Children love the opportunity of being able to show their appreciation to a teacher they admire, by gifting something exclusive on this special day. But by giving material gifts, not only do they make the teacher feel awkward, but lose out on the chance to create a gift with a personal touch. Encourage your child to shun run-of-the-mill or expensive shop-bought gifts in favour of beautiful handmade ones.
“Expensive gifts make most teachers uncomfortable. Moreover, if the child singles out one teacher, the others might resent it. It is not a situation any individual wants to be in,” say a senior educator.
So here are some gifts ideas that you should NEVER encourage your child to give on Teacher’s Day --
1. Cash -- It is first on the list for a reason. No teacher would like to receive cash put in an envelope from a student on their special day or on any other day for that matter. It is demeaning to them and makes a mockery of all the hard work they put in to educate your child. Some schools have strict regulations against giving cash or expensive gifts to teachers. Giving a cash gift may also be perceived as a bribe from parents, so that special attention is paid to their ward.
2. Home-cooked food -- Unless the child or parents are personally acquainted with the teacher, and know about his food preferences or specific likes and dislikes, it may not be a good idea to offer food items prepared at home. Teachers hesitate to accept cooked food brought from the student’s home because they don’t know what ingredients have gone into the dish and are not sure they will like it. Moreover, if an educator is specially intolerant or allergic to certain foods, he would not want to take chances. So this gesture is best avoided.
3. Intimate gifts such as creams/lotions and perfumes -- Sometimes a nice smelling candle or pot pourri set will do the trick but perfumes and personal care products such as creams and lotions are not desirable. These kind of items are intimate, and are best given by close family or friends. It is not likely that your preferences would match that of your child’s teacher, so steer clear of giving items which may not suit her.
4. Clothes -- Just like personal care products, clothes are very intimate, and can make the teacher feel awkward, if given by someone not very familiar to her. The same rule applies -- if one does not have much clue about the preference of the teacher, better not give clothes as a gift. The problem of right fit, likes and dislikes is what makes it an undesirable thing to give to the teacher.
5. Mugs -- Most people who receive mugs feel that they are a dime a dozen. That is why, as a gift, people do not put much value to a coffee mug, unless they are personalised with a meaningful message from the giver or a photo for remembrance. “I once received a mug that had WE written on it and my niece kept making fun of it saying ‘weewee’ is a slang word for urinating. That’s why I remember this episode for all the wrong reasons,” says an educator.
6. Jewellery or high-end watches -- Any token of appreciation that is too expensive or given with the intent to flaunt, will make teachers uncomfortable. It would also be construed as trying too hard to please. Like cash, some schools may have policies against giving expensive gifts.
7. Home Appliances -- Imagine receiving an appliance you already own or would never use in your lifetime. It’s not a good idea at all, considering the student may not have any idea what kind of lifestyle the educator has in her home. “It can be embarrassing to receive home appliances or high-end home products, because then the parents of the student may take it as a sign that their ward is special to the teacher,” says an educator. For a teacher, every child holds the same place.
So next time your child decides to gift something special to her favourite teacher, make sure it is something from the heart and not just something of material value.