Long-time teacher and blog regular sent me this post a couple of weeks ago about holiday sensitivity in school. See what you think!
By Mother Jane Goose, Blog regular!
It’s that time of year again, when the holidays pop up one right after another: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter.
Teachers who work with young children know that children are drawn to all of the seasonal excitement and many are creative enough to insert learning objectives into themes that involve pumpkins, cats, owls, pilgrims, foods, stockings, trees, hearts and love. Some have their hands absolutely tied and cannot even color an orange pumpkin or black cat. It has not always been this way.
For years, the holidays were simply a fact in the classroom: celebrated and enjoyed with enthusiasm. Nativity scenes were even a staple in public schools. There was no concern of children donning angel costumes for the Christmas program and Santa art projects were as common as crayons in kindergarten. No more.
With so many different cultures being represented in our public schools, we must be sensitive to those who are loyal to religions that may not embrace the same holidays and symbols as everyone else. Respect for diversity is common and commendable. At what cost?
While we toss out anything having to do with Christmas and simply call it a Winter Holiday, should we also eliminate Halloween? I have been visiting with children and sharing stories each month for over a dozen years. I have been in classrooms with children from Florida to Alaska. It has become more common in the metro Atlanta area, not to allow many of the holiday celebrations that were a staple in the past including Halloween. I am not talking about blood and gore but simply pumpkins, candy, owls and cats. Is there something wrong with that? Once, I was in New Jersey and sharing staff development with teachers. I mentioned to the teachers, ” Do you celebrate Halloween? I have some cute things I could share but do not want to offend anyone.” Their reply, ” What is wrong with Halloween…did we miss something?” It made me laugh.
Of course, a religious or private school is certainly able to discard any holiday celebration that conflicts with their beliefs. That only makes sense. There are some parents ( in public school) who are asking for no celebration of birthdays or even sharing a Valentine. Where do we draw the line?
Do you think schools should outlaw any holidays in favor of respecting the beliefs of every child in the school, when there could well be 1000 students? Should it be based on the majority of the students and what they celebrate? What major holidays should be left alone? Should principals or school boards mandate what holidays are celebrated or should they ALL be eliminated? What holidays irk you? What holidays do you look forward to, with fond memories about them from you childhood? Did you trick or treat and do you allow your kids to celebrate Halloween? How can we be sensitive to everyone…CAN WE?