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Who took away dignity of Chinese teaching profession?
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08:37, September 11, 2009

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On September 10 China celebrates Teacher's Day, a festival originally created to improve the status of teachers, but has now caused an awkward situation: parents worry about giving teachers gifts.

Parents are reluctant to give teachers gifts, but they are worried that if they do not then their children will be mistreated. They also take great pains to decide what gifts to give. On the other side, many teachers also feel confused faced with a festival that has become a gift-giving day, as they receive increasingly amounts of gifts but find it harder to get sincere respect from students and parents.

Phenomenon: "Teacher's Day gift-giving guides" emerge

On Teacher's Day, some students and parents do everything possible to send teachers gifts so as to show respect.

While parents are worrying about what gifts to give teachers, a number of smart online store owners have launched "Teacher's Day gift-giving guides."

Some online shopping websites have played the "gratitude" card on the occasion of the festival, attaching the "Teacher's Day" sales promotion label to cell phones, computers, cameras, massage chairs, golden pens, and even jewelry and silver bars.

One gift website simply started to specialize in sales of Teacher's Day gifts. A natural tourmaline necklace priced at 78,000 yuan is the most eye-catching item on the website. It has impressively become "the most expensive gift" after it was labeled as a gift for teachers. However the website displays "Sales in last 30 days: 0."

Parents are also exchanging their gift-giving experiences online. Mr. Sun, whose daughter is in Eigth Grade in a junior high school, said that giving gifts on Teacher's Day has become a tradition for his family. His experience is that giving teachers tea leaves is the most appropriate as tea leaves are inconspicuous and suit teachers' status and disposition. Each year he spends about 1,000 yuan on tea leaves as gifts for teachers. He said that he has learned that a 1,000-yuan gift for teachers is not unusual. Some parents directly give teachers shopping cards and even a gift of a tour abroad.

Survey: 60 percent of teachers said they only need a congratulatory SMS message

A recent survey by the Changjiang Daily showed that 78.95 percent of surveyed citizens said they send teachers gifts or greetings, 20.24 percent were worried that if they did not give teachers gifts, teachers would not pay more attention to their children, 11.34 percent said that they would feel awkward if they did not give teachers gifts as everybody else did, and 2.83 percent thought teachers make hints about giving gifts, so they feel they must send presents.

What do teachers do when they receive gifts?

According to the survey, 64.78 percent of surveyed teachers said a congratulatory SMS message would satisfy them. Most teachers surveyed said that they would reject gifts or that they strongly oppose accepting a cash gift because they think it undermines the dignity of the teaching profession and disgraces teachers. 21.46 percent said that they accept gifts if not too valuable, 2.43 percent said that it does not matter if teachers dine with students and parents to celebrate Teacher's Day and 6.48 percent believed that it is all right to accept a cash gift.

Recently, a teacher at a senior high school in Xiangfan, Hubei Province wrote in his blog that although the Teacher's Day is approaching, he feels no sense of professional pride. To some extent this is because Teacher's Day has become a gift-giving festival.

This blog rapidly caused heated discussion on the Internet. This teacher surnamed Yang noted that Teacher's Day is designed to promote the fine tradition of "respecting teachers and their teaching." However, these days parents simply talk about how to present gifts to teachers and what discriminative treatment their children will receive if they do not give teachers gifts. In fact, these acts all show disrespect toward teachers. Not only has Teacher's Day lost its original meaning, but it also reminds teachers of the public's disrespectful attitude toward them.

Another teacher said in an online message, "I feel inferior as a teacher. My monthly wages are below 2,000 yuan. My social status is even lower than that of a street vendor. Both my students and their parents look down on me…"

A Chinese language teacher at Chengdu Railway Middle School who has an over 10 years of teaching experience said that some teachers indeed hinted at their students to give them gifts and such matters have been popular, but not all teachers do it. "After all, a teacher's greatest sense of professional pride comes from appreciation and respect from students." The key problem lies in that both parents and teachers have become used to the practice. "Even if teachers reject gifts, parents will force them to accept them, as they are simply afraid that a teacher' rejection of gifts means that the teacher does not like their children.

How do they spend Teachers' Day in some Asian countries?

Afghanistan

On this day the schools are going on leave but the students and teachers are coming and celebrate the Teacher's Day at schools with special tradition food, cookies, music(in some schools) and presents to the teachers.

India

It is the birthday of the second President of India, academic philosopher Dr. Radhakrishnan. It is considered a "celebration" day, where teachers and students report to school as usual but the usual activities and classes are replaced by activities of celebration, thanks and remembrance. At some schools on this day, the responsibility of teaching is taken up by the senior students as an appreciation for their teachers.

Indonesia

National Teacher's Day is commemorated in the same time as PGRI's birthday (PGRI= Indonesian's Teacher Association). National Teacher's Day in not a holiday, and it is celebrated by having a ceremonial activity by giving a recognition to a certain teachers, head masters, and/ or school attendant.

By People's Daily Online



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