Is holiday gift giving to teachers a conflict of interest? (Yes)

As the holiday season rolls around, people enter a festive mood and are keen to spread the holiday spirit. Whether it involves hanging out with family or being a little kinder, something in the air puts a smile on people’s faces.

Perhaps the most popular way to savor the holidays is by gifting presents to family and friends. After all, family and friends are the ones we spend the most time with.

But there’s another group of people we see every day: teachers. Teachers want to see you excel as much as you do, and students want to show them that they are appreciated. After all, faculty members spend hours teaching, lesson planning and of course grading.

Unfortunately, there lies the issue. With teachers in control of grades, it proposes the following question: can gifts influence a teacher?

Teachers may favor students who give gifts over those who do not. For example, the teacher may become more lenient on the gift giver, regarding late assignments because they now view that student in a positive light.

Not only is there a conflict with the practice of gift-giving, but the gift itself can raise eyebrows too. An expensive gift places educators in awkward situations when it might be unclear to parents that lavish gifts do not equate to preferential treatment. Parents may expect a teacher to favor their student while the teacher thought they were innocently accepting a gift from their student.

However, this is not to say that one should avoid giving presents to teachers at all costs. Buy your teachers a present, but remind yourself of the original intent of gift-giving. Do not buy gifts hoping to be on the receiving end of favoritism.

So, when debating between purchasing a candle or a bottle of wine, choose the gift that truly reflects your appreciation for a teacher.