There was this custom in primary school to bring an apple to your teacher once in a while. You would sneak during breaks and leave on her (it was a she) desk the most beautiful, big and of course red apple you could find at home, yellow was not an option. In case you were over obsessed with it, you would ask your parents to make sure they bought the best apples they found in the market.
Then, after the break was over, your teacher would come back to class and act surprised in finding your apple on her desk and ask who was kind enough to offer her this gift. Sometimes, the apple proved to be a complete flop because there were several in the classroom that decided to do the apple stunt at the same time and of course there was a selection leaving some out. So, when she singled out the most beautiful apple and ask for the owner, you could not stand up because it was someone else’s apple which was bigger than yours.
What was the apple about? It was about social recognition in the classroom, about standing out from the crowd and let others know your teacher actually cared about you. It was sometimes afterwards that I realized this was a very artificial choice of building popularity. It was also among the most rudimentary things you could do to become the apple of her eyes. And that proved artificial too. However everyone, from pupils to parents, was obsessed with bringing something either for the teacher or contributing to the classroom in general, for free.
Reminder: in Romania, primary and secondary education is free and guaranteed for everybody. Somehow, the habit of parents contributing with material stuff or money endured the legal provision. Now, the Ministry of Education wants to legalize this personal contribution through a draft law that enables parents to redirect 2% of their taxes to any school they wish to.
And everyone seems so happy about it forgetting for a moment that the State is not financing education at the level he is supposed to be doing and seeks economic help from parents who, in most cases, are unable to provide it.