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Santa visiting class in public school - Page 8

post #141 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by dara00 View Post
Am I wrong that Christmas is the most important Christian hoilday?
Yes, you are wrong.

Easter (the resurrection) is the most important Christian holiday. The Bible says absolutely nothing about celebrating Christ's birth, and several fundamentalist/splinter Christian groups oppose celebrating it because it isn't Biblical.

Christmas is the most commercialized Christian holiday, thanks (in part) to the Coca-Cola company.
post #142 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirsten View Post
I am an atheist and say Merry Xmas this time of year. I celebrate it as a secular holiday. It has no religious ties FOR ME.
Same here, on every point.

However, putting my own "spin" on a holiday doesn't negate its religious facets.
post #143 of 150
I think there's a vast distance between 'enforcing rigid secularism' and inviting a religious figure into the school. Denying Santa's religious basis is somewhat disingenuous -- he is, after all, a representation of Saint Nicholas as well as something directly associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.

I also said nothing about banning recognition of widely-held cultural festivals.

I do believe there's quite a bit of room for holiday festivities -- room parties, gift exchanges, even shows/recitals. A passive symbol like a tree is not the same as an active one like Santa, who by his very appearance will necessarily marginalize those who don't participate (along with the message that this is something for 'good girls and boys').

Hey, I'm not the Santa police. Like I said, I'd keep my kids home. But I do also think there's a place for emphasizing the development of a degree of empathy here. You may never understand what it's like to be part of a minority, but perhaps it's worth considering the feelings of small children when instituting a public school policy. Those who celebrate Christmas and Santa will certainly have that at home. No one will miss Santa not coming to school. Why bring the issue into public school at all?!
post #144 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickarolaberry View Post
I think there's a vast distance between 'enforcing rigid secularism' and inviting a religious figure into the school. Denying Santa's religious basis is somewhat disingenuous -- he is, after all, a representation of Saint Nicholas as well as something directly associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas.

I also said nothing about banning recognition of widely-held cultural festivals.

I do believe there's quite a bit of room for holiday festivities -- room parties, gift exchanges, even shows/recitals. A passive symbol like a tree is not the same as an active one like Santa, who by his very appearance will necessarily marginalize those who don't participate (along with the message that this is something for 'good girls and boys').

Hey, I'm not the Santa police. Like I said, I'd keep my kids home. But I do also think there's a place for emphasizing the development of a degree of empathy here. You may never understand what it's like to be part of a minority, but perhaps it's worth considering the feelings of small children when instituting a public school policy. Those who celebrate Christmas and Santa will certainly have that at home. No one will miss Santa not coming to school. Why bring the issue into public school at all?!
Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized. Other kids want it. And yes, imo, it is rigid to draw lines around public school as if it's some citadel of perfect secularity. And tree is better than Santa. Come on. Classic hair-splitting rigid and legalistic thinking right there.

I have experienced being part of a minority quite a few times, one time in Israel. Um, yeah. Part of life is learning to accept that nothing is perfect, that things are not always fair, or as black and white as some might like them to be. I really dislike black and white thinking, the harping on stripping every bit of cultural flavour out of the secular society. It's so joyless and petty. And I wonder what people are so afraid of - are they afraid to admit that a large portion of society is still deeply attached to the old festivals? Do they think by stripping all that away the world will somehow be better? I don't agree, I think it is a form of intolerance.
post #145 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca View Post
Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized. And yes, imo, it is rigid to draw lines around public school as if it's some citadel of perfect secularity. And tree is better than Santa. Come on. Classic hair-splitting rigid and legalistic thinking right there.

I have experienced being part of a minority quite a few times, one time in Israel. I did not expect the society around me to make allowances for me. Part of life is learning to accept that nothing is perfect, that things are not always fair, or as black and white as some might like them to be. That is the truth, imo. And I will stand up for the muddy, grey, imperfect world every time because I ultimately believe it's a more realistic and healthy and tolerant world.
Pardon me? "Classic hair splitting rigid and legalistic thinking"? Care to say right out what you mean there?

I am under no illusions that life is perfect or always fair; and I am quite capable of understanding subtlety. So are my children. We compromise by sending them into this environment, and they are schooled very quickly on these kinds of issues. They grow up with a comprehension of exactly where they stand in this society, for better or (often) for worse, including the kinds of attitudes that instructs them to 'keep their traps shut,' and 'suck it up.' They grow strong because of this, but they also never, ever forget who they are and what their status is.

The key difference between Israel and America (and a lot of other countries and America) is that other nations (including Israel) have a state established religion. Our constitution protects us from state establishment of a religion -- and the public schools are precisely the kind of venue in which a state religion (whatever it is) is propagated. The public schools in this nation *are* supposed to be religiously neutral. Not adamantly secular, necessarily -- but not exhibiting favoritism either.

I believe I made it clear that I have no wish to deprive others of their beliefs or celebrations; I also believe, as I said, there are degrees of acceptability. I'm not in charge of determining them. I make my decisions about my children based on the reality at the time, and basically duck out of the way. But I stand by my point that the subtlety here is precisely in drawing a line between recognizing cultural festivals and inviting religious figures into a religiously neutral (by law) venue.
post #146 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca View Post
Duh, because it's part of the world around it which is Santarized.
This is just rude. I'm sure, as an Orthodox Jew, she is much more aware of how invasive Santa is to absolutely every single facet of American culture from Thanksgiving through New Year's.

You know, I do celebrate Christmas as a more secular holiday. I have no problem with Santa, per se. But, it is a CHRISTMAS figure. Christmas is a CHRISTIAN holiday. There really isn't a way to say it isn't. I'm sorry. You can try to say it isn't, but it really, really is.

And , it has no part of the public school. Little kids are not able to navigate or negotiate the complicated cultural waters that come with an event like this. It is a hornet's nest that is bound to offend and hurt someone. So, yes, let this one place be a bastion from the cultural implications that are present everywhere. Let the obvious bias toward Christmas stay out of the public schools, where EVERYONE is entitled to a safe education. And, no, I don't believe that parading Santa around the school makes it an emotionally safe place for the little Jewish kid, or the little Muslim kid, the little Buddhist kid, etc., etc. I'm sure, absolutely positive, that those that treasure the memories of Santa will expose those children to the same, magical moments. This isn't the school's job or place. If we were talking about a unit in social studies that studied different religions around the world, I would have no problem with that. Having Santa come to the class and "Ho, Ho, Ho," everyone is a duck of a different feather, though.

And, for the record, I am not saying that there should be no celebrations in school. There are many ways that kids and teachers can celebrate together in school that do not include religious holidays that may or may not be celebrated by everyone involved.
post #147 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapioca View Post
And I wonder what people are so afraid of - are they afraid to admit that a large portion of society is still deeply attached to the old festivals? Do they think by stripping all that away the world will somehow be better? I don't agree, I think it is a form of intolerance.
This is what people are afraid of:
Quote:
she is feeling very much like an outsider. I feel so sad for her- the kids tease her about [her religion!]- they found out because the teacher was talking about something and my daughter raised her hand to tell the teacher she doesn't "do this" but rather "this" and he talked about the religion with the class (he is very nice and was perhaps trying to educate the kids)-but it gave them fuel for their teasing.
from this thread http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1011355. This teasing all came about b/c the school decided to make christmas part of the school day in a big huge way.
post #148 of 150
My DD's pre-K class was visited by Santa. Apparently he comes with a police officer to visit. (Wonder what the children think of that? LOL) We are Christian and not anti-Santa so obviously it didn't bother me -- but I can see the offensiveness of it to others. I

This is not a excuse just a thought ... We happen to live in an area that is largely Christian (Dutch Reformed). I can't find any hard stats but I would say in the 90 percent if not more. I have been to PTO events where a prayer was said prior to its beginning. I imagine no one gave it a second thought about Santa visiting.
post #149 of 150
I guess, even though I am Christian myself, and celebrate Christmas, complete with Santa, that I just don't see what educational benefit celebrating Christmas at public school serves. I'm also not referring to learning about different religions/cultural celebrations in an educational way either, but things like having Santa visit, or singing Christmas carols.
As many have pointed out, living in the US, one can hardly escape the dominant culture everywhere one goes, so it's not like if Santa doesn't visit the classroom, a Christian child has to miss out. The objections all seem to me to be variations on "I'm in the dominant culture and I want MY holidays celebrated."
Ignoring the real feelings of folks who are not part of the dominant culture seems beyond thoughtless, for something that has no apparent educational benefit.
post #150 of 150
I'm pleasantly surprised by how non-Christian-normative my kids' school seems to me. They have Winter Break, the winter concert did not include religious songs, and Santa did not visit. What makes this especially interesting to me is that it's an International Baccalaurate School, so each classroom is focused on a particular country throughout the year, and the children all take Spanish. IMO they get a much better sense of the world as it is, richly multicultural, by setting aside the assumption that "everybody" celebrates Christmas. (Contrast my public school, when I was a child: we got New Testaments. For free! Everyone take one! )

Even in the whitebread Midwest where I now live, there are children in my kids' classrooms whose families immigrated from (off the top of my head) at least half a dozen countries. Not a generation ago, but a few years ago. I *love* that there are a variety of native languages spoken and a variety of religions practiced (as well, I'm sure, as many athiest families.)

My kids would get a much narrower and less accurate understanding of the world we all live in if they were taught that Christianity is the universal norm. In addition, their Jewish and Buddhist and Hindu (again, off the top of my head - I'm sure there are more) classmates would be marginalized.

Probably non-Christian families see more default assumptions about Christianity in the school than I do (I should ask around!) But I am confident that all religious traditions are welcomed and affirmed, and I think if a parent had a problem with the religious or cultural assumptions made at school he or she would be taken seriously.

Finally, as a trained theologian - why would I want the public schools teaching my kids religion? Trust me, I'll do a much better job at home.
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