Monday, December 22, 2008


I solicited advice on the ethical side of teachers accepting Christmas gifts from students/parents on Flickr, Facebook and in real life. This is the e-mail I ended up composing.

Hi folks,

As Christmas draws near, some students and parents will take this opportunity to gives gifts to teachers as a sign of appreciation for your hard work and dedication this year. Accepting these gifts can become an ethical problem in certain cases. The school does not have an explicit policy on gifts, so I’d like to suggest a few lines of thought for you to consider this season:

- Gifts of high emotional value are less troublesome and can be just as meaningful as gifts with high monetary value. If you have a chance to influence a student’s choice of gift, this is a useful reminder to offer them.

- Gifts from outstanding students are less troublesome than gifts from students who are not doing as well grade-wise. If you are offered an extravagant gift by a low-performing students, be very careful; consider quoting some sort of policy that would allow you to not accept the gift.

- Most important of all, it’s good to be open and transparent with your colleagues and administrators about the gifts you receive. If you receive a gift whose monetary value makes you uncomfortable, check with your department head, the AA office or (the student’s) other teachers to make sure that keeping it won’t cause complications down the road. This is especially true for gifts of cash/hongbao, which are sometimes seen at this school because of our students’ cultural backgrounds.

Even for experienced teachers, it’s hard to know exactly where to draw the line so don’t hesitate to ask about any doubts you have regarding a gift.

Happy Holidays!

Micah Sittig
Science Department | Physics 11
SMIC Private School | Shanghai, China
Micah_Sittig@smXcschXol.cXm | 5X55-4588x5X6 | Office C202


At Dec 26, 2008, 2:14:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said:

Haha.. talking about gifts.. U mean they try to bribe ? Probably you should set a limit to it's value, so that no one will spent too much or you feel oblidge. Anyway, are you a Singaporean ? Do chinese in China speaks good China ? My recent trip last week, was so difficult to find them able to speak english even though they are graduates. Glad to see someone who can even blog over here.. must be the very young generation group. Anyway, Merry Christmas.

At Dec 26, 2008, 2:15:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said:

correction.. speaks good english ?


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