Opinion: how much is too much for a teacher’s Christmas gift?

Stock image.
Stock image.

GONE are the days when students gave their teachers an apple as a sign of gratitude and respect.

Nowadays it’s more likely to be a gift card worth hundreds of dollars for a day spa or Myer.

Call me Scrooge but the emails I have received from well-meaning parents at my children’s public primary school over the past few years asking me to contribute to outlandish gifts for teachers just doesn’t sit right with me.

What happened to a handwritten Christmas card with some kind, personal words on the positive impact a teacher had on your child? Or festively decorated cookies?

Isn’t 12 weeks annual leave enough of a gift?

A recent survey of 200 teachers by online gift collection company GroupTogether.com spilled the beans on what presents teachers really do and don’t want.

Mugs, hand cream, chocolate and any other food item made by children were listed as the worst gifts.

Teachers said while handmade goodies made by the children sound lovely, they’ve seen where those fingers have been.

While those in charge of shaping our little one’s mind were at pains to say that they didn’t expect anything, they did say if you’re going to fork out for something, they’d prefer one group gift – ideally something that gives them choice such as a voucher from the class.

One former teacher from Perth said her most memorable gift was a bag of manure.

“It came complete with a little poem about how I’d helped the boy grow and mature over the year despite some of the crap he’d given me,” she said.

One mum recalled the time she gave her primary school teacher her mum’s engagement ring.

“I loved my teacher and wanted to give her something special. I found the ring in mum’s jewellery box and thought she never wears this so she won’t miss it.”

But one teacher from Perth said a few sincere words of thanks was just wonderful and she had kept some cards for years.

“We shouldn’t expect expensive gifts but a thank you is very uplifting at an exhausting time of the year,” she said.

“All we really need to know is that our efforts have been appreciated.”

Overseas the trend has taken on a more worrying trajectory with reports emerging of teachers at elite private schools being handed expensive end of term gifts including designer handbags, diamond necklaces and even free use of a private jet.

Maybe I’m a little envious; journalists aren’t exactly popular.

People aren’t lining up to show their appreciation of the work we do despite many working long hours, often outside of normal office hours.

If I get one Christmas card thanking me for a story I’ve written, I consider myself lucky.

This year I will be keeping it simple.

My kids’ teachers have been wonderful and I will be taking the time to write a personal message in a card outlining the positive impact they have had on them

Words might be free, but appreciation is priceless.

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