Sunday, February 14, 2010

So it's not okay to give your kid's teacher a digital camera...?

While we were in the U.S. at Christmas Buddy bought a digital camera for Grant's teacher. Mrs. Wang was Audrey's homeroom teacher for two years and now she's Grant's homeroom teacher so we feel close to her. She's played a big role in our kids' education.

Now a digital camera is kind of extravagant and not something I would give a teacher in the States, however I tend to defer to Buddy on these sorts of things because he grew up here and I figure he knows what's acceptable.

We wrapped up the camera and sent it to school with Grant last week.

Today the camera came back with Grant, neatly wrapped back up in the wrapping paper.

When I asked Buddy why the teacher returned it he said it was probably too expensive.

You guys know I love this man more than life itself but he is useless when it comes to explaining any of life's mysteries.

Dear readers, can some of you shed some more light on this for me? Do students ever give their teachers gifts in China? If so, what is appropriate?

And for that matter, what do we do in the US? I don't remember ever giving a teacher a present. Is it done today? If so what's a typical gift?


Sarah said...

When I lived in the UK, giving gifts to teachers was acceptable, but nothing that expensive. I once gave my teacher a fancy selection of cheeses, because I knew that she loved cheese.
Here in Algeria though, gift-giving to teachers is not the done thing. The most is home-baked cakes and stuff, which my mum sends in at the end of the year for my younger siblings.

Sin-Yaw Wang said...

For centuries, students brought gifts to their teachers to show their respects. This tradition turned bad in modern time and many teachers started to sell grades or give preferential treatments. It became common for teachers to refuse all gifts, particularly extravagant ones.

She was not offended. Try having Grant make some crafts. That will probably delight her.

Melanie Gao said...

Thanks Sarah and Sin-Yaw for the ideas. Yes, homemade items will be a good thing to try next time. We can make some chocolate chip cookies or something like that. We'll see how that goes over. :)

Jocelyn said...

I agree with Sin-Yaw Wang.

I have to wonder if maybe it was also a pride thing -- I've had expensive gifts refused by Chinese in the past, as if to remind me that they don't need my foreign money, or assistance.

Well, anyhow, chocolate chip cookies sound like a delicious way to delight the homeroom teacher. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out. =)

Unknown said...

I think the real problem is that the gift shouldn't be given through Grant. Letting kids know their teacher accepted their parents' gifts (especially expensive ones) is a taboo. The teacher may worry that Grant will tell other kids in his class about this. (This could very likely happen on young kids in Grant's age.) It can also make it difficult for the teacher to discipline Grant in the future. I think small gifts like handmade crafts is okay to be given through kids. However for expensive ones or gift cards (They are typical gifts for teachers today as far as I know), parents had better give them in person without even letting their kids know.

Melanie Gao said...

Jane thanks for that insight. Next time we'll try delivering the gift ourselves and see how that goes.

Jocelyn I love an excuse to bake chocolate chip cookies, don't you? I mean, a batch has a lot of cookies and the teacher does not need them all, that's for sure. :)