Oh for heaven’s sake! I had no idea this would get so personal!
Seriously though, I can be a good sport about it and appreciate that if we all the same opinion there wouldn’t be much of a conversation now would there?
To clarify, I am a public school teacher (at least I was before having my son. I am a SAHM for the time being) but also taught in a private school and did my graduate studies in Pedagogy so I have a fairly good understanding of Waldorf, Montessori etc. (which I use a great deal of in my own teaching practice.)
I spent considerably more time exploring and teaching the values and traditions of other religions winter holidays in my classrooms because I thought it was prudent to avoid the emotionally wrought Santa issue and to ensure that all children have some holiday perspective beyond the man in the big red suit. In fact my favourite holiday activity was to have the children write out their wish list that money CAN'T buy. Almost all the kids would have some variation on the “ I wish my parents got along better” theme. Now if only I could get Santa to read those letters!
A few points I want to make:
1. Knowledge = power. If you are going to share knowledge with your child that their peer group, as a whole, is not privy to then you need to teach them that there is some responsibility that comes along with that power. Put it this way. Whenever one of these dreaded conversations starts it’s usually not “I had the most enlightened conversation with my mother last night and you’d never guess what I learned...” It usually goes something like this: “ I know something you don’t know, nah, nah..” I’m not saying that I side with one child or the other and I’m not saying that your darling children are the ones ruining a special belief for other children. There have been times when the conversation has come up in a civil and respectful way, but in those cases my intervention was not required because no name calling ensued. An exchange of information on the playground between friends is one thing. It’s the method by which these aforementioned children discover the truth that I find disheartening and I’m not going to be the one to confirm or deny the existence of Santa. Yes, it is commercialised. Yes, it is a culture of greed, but the fact remains that Santa does mean presents for many children so I’m not sure what your point is.
I have tried the “You believe one thing and they believe another” but it just doesn’t cut it. They want to know what I believe (meaning YOU the adult in front of me right now... what do YOU believe?) and my response has always worked to put out the fire and that is really all my position allows for. Please don’t throw stones until you’ve been in that position.
2. Mijumom: you’ve concocted a lot of comments that I have not made and I would appreciate it if you used quotes rather then your own interpretations of what I am saying. My specific examples of what my experience has been are not a blanket statement for my feelings towards all children in general. I love teaching and I love working with children. We are having a specific conversation about a very murky topic and it is unfair to paint my whole career with one comment about a controversial subject.
3. It is simply impossible to cater to every religious and cultural belief in a public school. I feel for the family that has to pull their child from school one afternoon because of Ramadan and the rest of the kids are cooking latkas for Hanukkah. Does Ramadan trump Hanukkah? And what’s with the Jewish Jeffery comment? All I ever got from Santa was a stocking with small gifts in it. All my Jewish friends got WAY more STUFF then we ever did. A gift a day if I remember correctly.
So... to change the topic to a more happy one...
Did anyone see Oprah this week and her special on Schools in Crisis? It was so interesting!