In a few days the 2022-2023 school year will end and with its closure the long-awaited holidays will arrive for the entire educational community. After long months of work and responsibilities, a few weeks arrive to enjoy free time to the fullest. Days to disconnect from schoolwork, exams, to be with the family without rushing and live thousands of new experiences on the beach, in the mountains or traveling. And whenever the school year ends, the debate on whether or not it is necessary to give gifts to teachers resurfaces. Some gifts that are made especially in Early Childhood and Primary Education, and that in Secondary usually disappear. With them it is intended to value and appreciate the teaching task, but not everyone agrees with doing them.

Both families and teachers have different opinions on the matter, which sometimes causes many controversies and misunderstandings in the WhatsApp groups of the classes, in family associations or within the faculty themselves, creating an uncomfortable situation. On many occasions, what began as a small detail made by the boys and girls in the class themselves, such as a drawing or a small text thanking the tutor, has ended up becoming gifts with an economic value. important. The contribution of each family, from my experience, is usually between 2 and 20 euros.

I was curious to know what the parents think. When asking different fathers or mothers about whether a gift should be given to teachers at the end of the course, I found very different answers. Some see it as very convenient because it is a good way to thank the teacher for the work done with their children; others are against gifts, they say, because teachers already receive their salary; and there are also those who, although they do not see it as necessary, end up making their contribution to avoid criticism from the other parents in the class.

Raquel Marín, mother of four children who attend a subsidized school in Madrid, told me that she has the feeling that gifts for teachers have become compulsory and that there is a competition between classes to see who makes the most expensive gift and exotic: “And for large families, like mine, it means an excessive expense that normally exceeds 40 euros in total. And if you decide not to participate in it, some do not hesitate to criticize you without contemplation.

There are parents who want to show guardians that they are fully grateful for the work they have done with their children. One of them is Pere Bosc, the father of two children, ages four and seven, from a public school in Santander. Bosc explains that in his house they always collaborate with the gift that is proposed in the class chat: “In our school it has never caused any conflict between families. The economic contribution is usually small and we usually give the teacher a plant, a book, a bag to go to the beach with the name of the class or a voucher so that they can get a massage”. “My wife and I think it’s a simple way to thank the teacher for the work he has done with his students throughout the course,” adds Bosc.

For her part, Rosa González, mother of a girl who is in fifth grade in Malaga, believes that it is not necessary to give the teacher anything because, like the doctor, electrician or supermarket clerk, he receives his salary at the end of mes: “I am an administrator and no client has given me anything for doing my job well. Not wanting to give away does not mean that I do not value the work they do with my daughter. At home we collaborate in the gift because we don’t feel free or comfortable if we don’t. It is not easy to refuse to participate, even if she thinks that it is an inappropriate and somewhat outdated practice ”.

To put an end to these conflicts, some schools have chosen to recommend that families not give gifts to teachers. In the meetings at the beginning of the course, teachers ask parents not to buy gifts because this leads to conflicts between families and discrimination between students, since some of them live in a difficult economic situation. Jaime Vallés, director of an Early Childhood and Primary Education school in a small town near the city of Manresa (Barcelona), explains that there are teachers who, when new ones arrive at the center, do not like the decision made by the faculty a few years ago. Recommend families not to give gifts: “We also find families who give individual gifts to their child’s teacher without respecting the demand we make.”

Recognizing the work of teachers should not become a topic of discussion or conflict between families and the faculty. Whether or not to gift the course tutor should be a free and personal choice and no one should feel compelled to do so. As George Washington Carter, researcher, scientist and educator, said: “Education is the key to open the golden door of freedom.”

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By Nail

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