or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › what are the laws for Xmas in public schools?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

what are the laws for Xmas in public schools? - Page 4

post #61 of 101
Quote:
I kind of like the model where instead of removing them all, you add as many as possible in. I think it is possible to engage with things in a way that doesn't make them "the only way." I wouldn't want books removed from a library because they mentioned Christmas/Ba'hai/Buddhism/Islam/Judaism and although I think decorations a bit different and need to be treated carefully, I guess I still think it's safer to INCLUDE than EXCLUDE.


I totally agree. Celebrations are fun. Learning about other culture's celebrations are fun and enriching. In my child's classroom and school they learn about all the holididays. Heck, they learn about yom kippur and rosh hashanah and get both those days off of school. They celebrate kwanzaa and chanukah. I agree that the bullying is the problem
post #62 of 101
Thread Starter 
The principal called me last night and he says it has been on his mind and he was so glad I approached him about it. He definately wants to make some changes and I told him that every year he would just get more and more children from different faiths/nationalities/race etc and he agreed. Thanks to the input here, I told him I didn't mind things as they are as long as we could "bring" other religious holiday celebrations into the mix and he agreed. he is going to work on bringing more awareness and sensitivity into the school as well .

This is a very artsy town and though rooted in anglo/christian families- it is changing every year being so close to the major city with a major university. This is really over due.

Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful input. I really do appreciate it.
post #63 of 101
:
post #64 of 101
I was a teacher in a public school before having kids and I had a student whose family beliefs included not celebrating winter holidays or birthdays, etc. We did a LOT of snowman stuff. Which is kind of ironic since it was in California!

I completely understand the OP's point and honestly think that elementary teachers spend way too much time on holidays. I feel like a lot of instructional time is given to making holiday crafts, etc., that could be better used for teaching and learning (in a fun way, of course!). And I could see how a parent would not expect so much time/energy in a public school being spent on one holiday.
post #65 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonMom View Post
I totally agree. Celebrations are fun. Learning about other culture's celebrations are fun and enriching. In my child's classroom and school they learn about all the holididays. Heck, they learn about yom kippur and rosh hashanah and get both those days off of school. They celebrate kwanzaa and chanukah. I agree that the bullying is the problem
I agree. My daughter's school learns about lots of holidays- Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwaanza, etc.

I think you can do holiday stuff in an educational way.
post #66 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by organicfarmerswife View Post
I would love to hear how other people who don't celebrate xmas deal with this issue. thanks
Thanks for this thread. My DS is in a private school (non-religious, but run by nuns) that is way over the top about Christmas activities, songs, crafts, etc. Christmas activities are the whole focus of the month of December, along with dialy practice of Christmas songs to be sung for an upcoming performance.

Our children are being raised Jewish, and the non-stop onslaught of Christmas everything at school and elsewhere (he is the only child who doesn't celebrate Christmas in his class) is really upsetting to him and has been extremely difficult. He's been acting out all month about it.

I really don't understand why things can't be kept more secular in school settings. I'm all for learning about different religions, but that's defintiely not happening at his school...it's all about Christmas (we did not have that understanding when we chose this school).

We're trying to just keep focusing on "different people celebrate different holidays", but a 5 year old just doesn't get why everyone else has Christmas trees and santa and so many fun Christmas songs, nor does he understand the fundamental differences of different religions.

I'm glad your DD's school seemed responsive to updating their practices.

=================
Mama to DS 5/03 & DD 2/06 :
: ICAN “You never know when you're making a memory.” ~ Rickie Lee Jones
post #67 of 101
Hi there- I've removed some posts from this conversation. Please hit the report button rather than taking issue with a post that seems problematic. Please don't take direct issue with posters on the thread. Thank you for your cooperation.

This is a very interesting topic!
post #68 of 101
I'd like to say that I don't think the OP's religion is relevant and I personally rather enjoyed not knowing. The question was not about how to include their specific religion. I interpreted it globally: how to include all non Christmas celebrating families. I appreciated the non disclosure.

FWIW I can relate personally as a child myself having grown up in a Jewish family and feeling very alienated for not celebrating christmas or participating in any associated way with it. I can tell you that while christmas may appear secular, the large majority of people of differing faiths do not do christmas trees, santa clause, stockings, lights etc. I honestly don't know any religious folk who do. I do know some secular families who put of trees for the fun of it, or so their own kids don't feel alienated.

I will admit now to being one of those people. For those who care to know we are atheists/humanists for lack of better words. After much debate we opted for a tree, mostly so our own children don't have to feel alienated like I did. Apparently it is confusing though. For now DD1 has chosen to be a humanist as well and she is "out" in her beliefs. While discussing it with some classmates they informed her 1) she was wrong not to believe in god and 2) if she put up a tree she was Christian. One of her best friends (a devoutly Christian family who celebrates christmas religiously and did not do the commercialized trappings) was informed that she was actually Jewish because her family did not put up a tree. Since that time they have put up a tree (albeit small, but still) in order to avoid their own DC's confusion and alienation.

I would say that christmas trees, christmas lights, christmas ornaments, santa clause etc. are all closely associated with christmas and christianity. We can discuss as long as we want the roots and origins of these things (as well as easter) but it the global perception holds true. The reality is that people of other religions do not participate in these things in their own homes, or would not if it was not so prevalent in our USAmerican society.

Quote:
Originally Posted by organicfarmerswife View Post
The principal called me last night and he says it has been on his mind and he was so glad I approached him about it. He definately wants to make some changes and I told him that every year he would just get more and more children from different faiths/nationalities/race etc and he agreed.
It sounds like a really productive conversation. It goes to show what rational discussion about inclusion can do. Congratulations. I hope you see the change.
post #69 of 101
Trees, Santas, reindeer are NOT symbols of the Christian holiday. A nativity is a symbol of the Christian holiday. Trees, Santas etc... are symbols non christians adopted to incorporate this holiday into mainstream society.

Clearly, Christians are not the only ones who celebrate Christmas so clearly, this is no longer a Christian holiday. It is celebrated by believers of many different religions and non believers. It is a commercial holiday, not a Christian holiday.
post #70 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
I guess in reading this thread I just had the thought that this is so much larger than the which-symbols-are-in-school issue.

I agree that the bullying is the core immediate issue.

But I also think there is a whole question here about dominant culture and minority culture. I really feel for the OP's child; I was 'that kid' at some points in my life (notably when my family spent two years as Jehovah's Witness sort-of followers and I went out in the hall for the national anthem). It was hard sometimes, and sometimes it was strengthening.

I do think that school, because it's children and because it's sort-of mandatory (homeschooling aside), is a place that has a responsibility to work hard on inclusiveness, modelling tolerance, and behaving sensitively. I hope, OP, that you and the school can work together on that. It is kind of lousy that it is often the minority voice that has to be raised, but you're already in that situation.

My own personal belief is that while out and out religious ceremonies should be banned (anyone else remember saying the Lord's Prayer every morning? We did in school. I'm not baptised myself, so it was really odd.), trying to "get rid of" ALL mentions of ALL holidays/trappings/etc. is destructive in the long run. It kind of forces a lot of the discussion underground, or people make ignorant assumptions based on lack of information.

I kind of like the model where instead of removing them all, you add as many as possible in. I think it is possible to engage with things in a way that doesn't make them "the only way." I wouldn't want books removed from a library because they mentioned Christmas/Ba'hai/Buddhism/Islam/Judaism and although I think decorations a bit different and need to be treated carefully, I guess I still think it's safer to INCLUDE than EXCLUDE.

So that would be my approach with the school - not questioning whether or not they have the right to put things up, but to ask them why they are the only things up and also, if you don't mind having the conversation, making them aware of how overwhelming it can feel from your perspective. I hope it works out!
Since in our area is very diverse (and has been for over 40 years) religious holidays are pretty much ignored in school. That doesn't mean that there existance is hidden, baned, denied, etc though.


There is one major problem with the whole "lets just have all the holidays represented" philosophy. The reallity of it is that any non-mainstream-protestant-christian cutural beliefs get stretched to fit into the Christmas season and mindset.

A good example of this is how Chanukah has become a huge deal. Historically Chanukah is a very very minor Jewish Holiday, but since it is the holiday closest to Christmas it has become the main focus when people try to put up religiously diverse displays. Towns all across the country pop a menorah next to the tree, but how often do those same towns have Yom Kippur or Passover decorations?

Then there are always people who just don't happen to celebrate any of these holidays, like Athiests.


Students are welcome to talk about and share there holidays and cultural celebrations anytime they aren't engaged in other activities. The libraries have all kinds of books.

However, no instructional time is put into holiday activities and no holiday decoration put up by school officials (sometimes girl scout troops and such might do multicultural holiday themed activities.)

No body minds at all. Children can make christmas crafts at their church's religious classes. Other kids can make dreidels or menorahs during Hebrew class. Others go to dance classes to learn the dragon dance for New Years. Yada-Yada.

Accomedations are made to make holiday celebrations convenient, like closing the schools for Christmas or Rosh Hoshanah or letting kids fasting for Ramadan Have freeplay in a classroom at lunch time. There is a big difference though between accomidating, acknowledging a religious celebration and endorsing it.
post #71 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
Trees, Santas, reindeer are NOT symbols of the Christian holiday. A nativity is a symbol of the Christian holiday. Trees, Santas etc... are symbols non christians adopted to incorporate this holiday into mainstream society.

Clearly, Christians are not the only ones who celebrate Christmas so clearly, this is no longer a Christian holiday. It is celebrated by believers of many different religions and non believers. It is a commercial holiday, not a Christian holiday.
Without rehashing the whole Santa=Saint issue, let me address this.

Trees, Santa, and reindeer are specifically celebrated by Northern European Christians. In most Spanish speaking Catholic areas traditionally there was no tree, no Santa, and no reindeer. Instead 6 days after christmas the Three Wise Men brought presents. Many Spanish speaking Catholics are very unhappy about how thier traditional way of celebrating Christmas is being pushed into obscurity, while the Northern European traditions are becoming more and more pervasive.

The issues involved are not merely theological, but about a more general right to keep ones own cultural identity. The fact that trees are Pagan symbols adopted by Christians does not make them any less problematic if you they don't happen to be part of ones own tradition.
post #72 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
Trees, Santas, reindeer are NOT symbols of the Christian holiday. A nativity is a symbol of the Christian holiday.
To the distinction between Christmas 'decorations' and Christian holiday I will agree. Santa, trees, et al do not have religious significance, where a nativity would. My point is that Christmas is a Christian holiday, so the non religious trappings do get lumped in with Christianity. We could take Christianity out of the whole discussion and simply say 'Christmas holiday'. Many people do not celebrate Christmas, do not put up trees etc. and an over bombardment of that in a school system with no to little representation of any other holiday is exclusionary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amcal View Post
Trees, Santas etc... are symbols non christians adopted to incorporate this holiday into mainstream society.
My recalling of the history here is a little bit different. Sure, stores, media, advertisers have taken many of these 'trappings' and used them to boost sales, turning more into a seasonal sales brigade. (Personally I still associate all of those things with Christmas and would venture to say many in the US do hence the big debate over stores not displaying these items.) I had understood that originally many of those things were pagan in origin and adapted by Christians for numerous different reasons.
post #73 of 101
I am a Christian and do celebrate Christmas... but I was rather surprised that they do a lot of Christmas related activities in my DD's K class in our public school system. The teacher did send out an email in November first. The email asked that everyone please reply back to her as to whether or not we were okay with them making Christmas trees, writing letters to Santa (as a way to encourage writing skills), that sort of thing. She also invited anyone to come in to the class to talk about holiday traditions or customs that their families participate in because she wants the children to learn about the different things that people do at this time of year.

From what I've seen volunteering in my DD's classroom, they are learning about how various countries and cultures celebrate in general. For example, they are making a pinata and talking about how in Mexico parties are called Fiestas. Also, she makes it very clear to the children when they are making holiday cards that they may put whatever they wish on the card, offering ideas such as a Thank You card to their parents for being such good parents or a Happy Winter card to grandma.

Like I said, I was surprised that they do anything Christmas related... but I like how her teacher is using the excitement that children have around the holidays to teach the children about other countries and cultures.

As to the teasing, I agree with others who have stated that bullying is NOT acceptable. I was teased and bullied throughout school and my heart breaks for your DD. I was short, chubby and uncoordinated. I still have issues with my weight and feel very critical when I look in the mirror. I have to change the tv channel if I'm watching a show and someone starts making fun of someone else... it's just too upsetting.

Beth
post #74 of 101
post #75 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
Then there are always people who just don't happen to celebrate any of these holidays, like Athiests.

.
What makes you think that athiests don't celebrate holidays? We celebrate new years, valentines day, easter, fourth of july, christmas. . . .in a non-religious way.
post #76 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
What makes you think that athiests don't celebrate holidays? We celebrate new years, valentines day, easter, fourth of july, christmas. . . .in a non-religious way.
I dare say that not all Athiests have the same attitude about these things, just as some Christians veiw Santa as Christian and others view him as secular. Besides, Athiests are not the only people who may not wish to celebrate a holiday around the end of December. What about Pastatarians?

While there are veg*n who don't care if you use the same spoon to stir the meat chili and the veg*n chili many do care, so it is best to have seperate spoons for the meat dishes.
post #77 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flor View Post
Ok, but that's not our santa. Our santa lives in the north pole with elves and magical reindeer. He was not a bishop and he wasn't from Greece. Our santa has different orgin story.
I agree, we are Eastern orthodox Christan and celebrate Christian Christmas, as well the the day of the patron Saint Nicholas in early December, but we also "play" at secular Christmas and make believe Santa Clause. To us- they are different.
post #78 of 101
I guess I feel just the opposite of you. I think it is sad that Christmas has been taken out of all the celebrations at school. Not the "Christian, Jesus, Mary and Joseph" version - that belongs at church. But the fun stuff and the idea of giving gits, singing songs, make-believe and just being a kid. Because of a few people's beliefs, our school district does everything P.C. A Christmas tree, santa and stockings to most children are symbols of a fun, exciting holiday not religion. The cross, the nativity scene - those are religious symbols. I think children should learn about other celebrations from other cultures as well and have no problem with them learning about and participating in traditions from other cultures. I would expect that other cultures would have the same respect for our Christmas traditions. I am a Christian, so Christmas means a lot to me but for kids it is just a fun holiday for the most part. It is sad we have to take that away because a few people don't believe the same way. This is something that I feel very strongly about because of what I see happening in our schools. That said, children making fun of a child (or teachers saying negative things) because of their religion should not be tolerated.
post #79 of 101
erinsmom, I actually don't have a problem with gift giving, Santa, and all of the non-churchy stuff you mentioned happening in public schools. I did feel a bit uneasy about having my non-Christian child singing "oh, holy night... this is the night of our dear saviour's birth..." and "For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth... Hallelujah" (from Handel's Messiah).
post #80 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by erinsmom1996 View Post
I guess I feel just the opposite of you. I think it is sad that Christmas has been taken out of all the celebrations at school. Not the "Christian, Jesus, Mary and Joseph" version - that belongs at church. But the fun stuff and the idea of giving gits, singing songs, make-believe and just being a kid. Because of a few people's beliefs, our school district does everything P.C. A Christmas tree, santa and stockings to most children are symbols of a fun, exciting holiday not religion. The cross, the nativity scene - those are religious symbols. I think children should learn about other celebrations from other cultures as well and have no problem with them learning about and participating in traditions from other cultures. I would expect that other cultures would have the same respect for our Christmas traditions. I am a Christian, so Christmas means a lot to me but for kids it is just a fun holiday for the most part. It is sad we have to take that away because a few people don't believe the same way. This is something that I feel very strongly about because of what I see happening in our schools. That said, children making fun of a child (or teachers saying negative things) because of their religion should not be tolerated.
The problem with have the school celebrating Christmas even without religous symbols is that it leads to the teasing. When schools celebrate Christmas as the norm, then it sets up everybody else as others.

Even if one teaches about other midwinter celebrations (and one is assuming all faiths have a midwinter celebration, which is not always true to varying degrees) it tends to be in the tone of we celebrate Christmas, and they celebrate XYZ.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Learning at School
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Education › Learning at School › what are the laws for Xmas in public schools?