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#91 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 11:26 AM
 
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I have to say that there are several types of children out there who do not believe in Santa, etc. There are those that are of another faith or culture and there are those who use the knowledge to bully other children and there are others of course in different situations.

My children totally understand that not everyone believes in Santa or the tooth fairy. They get that it is a cultural thing. Their friends from Mexico are visited by the tooth mouse who swims the Rio Grande to get to Seattle while they themselves are visited by the Tooth Fairy. Their Jewish friends are not visited by Santa or by St. Nicholas but they have the fun of Hannakuh and Purim. My children as well as these children have been taught to be respectful of other children's beliefs and culture.

We have run into to children, who use the knowledge of no Santa as a form of bullying. Usually, they themselves were bullied out of the belief. They ususally call other children babies and crow about their higher level.
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#92 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 11:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by newmom22
You all have some really good points and I don't disagree with many of them, but I do think that children have to be taught to respect the belief systems of others... regardless of how silly they may seem.
I do agree. We've always told our daughter that Santa is important to other children and not to tell them he's not real, any more than other religious icons that aren't real for our family. She hasn't said anything so far (she's six), so I think that's pretty good. I found out that Santa wasn't real from an evangelical christian girl whose family thought Christmas was pagan. Therefore, the whole Santa/Satan debate between the two of us. Hmmm, if you rearrange the letters...well whoda thunk it...
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#93 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 12:46 PM
 
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newmom22- Ok. I'm going to be honest and tell you that you're really hitting a nerve. I went to a Jewish school and while it was inclusive of other cultures, my parents never anticipated that I would be in that position. Also, to label a six year old in the way you have is so judgemental and I hope that as a teacher, if you ever face one of these rotten children, you will neglect your bias and treat that child with compassion and not so much emotion. All you have to say is "you both believe something different". When my son wasn't doing the "Santa" thing we did discuss other kids and their parents' desires to have them believe so we would not say anything to ruin it. Still, you can't always know when and how kids will discover or explore the truth. As an educater of children, I would hope that you would be a little less shallow about what all of the kids are experiencing deeper down. Also, now that my son has chosen to believe in Santa, I don't really know what he actually believes as fact and what he is going along with with a wink and a nod. I hope if he ever has a conversation representing either position someone will neutrally validate both kids' beliefs (pretty easy to do without all the hoopla and labeling).

I expect that our Waldorf school will honor the beliefs and practices of all students as much as any other "non-religious" school. It is wrong to discredit children's beliefs whether they are believing in or not believing in mythical creatures. What are you teaching the children who do believe about these kids that have a different pov? That they are mean and nasty. I wasn't, I just couldn't believe that this kid believed an actual fat guy came down her chimney. So, I suppose I was a nasty, cold-hearted non-believer, right?

Sheesh, please, please tell me you're not a Waldorf teacher. I also can't believe that some people think that kids have to be "talked out" of believing. If you don't create the illusion for them and make things magically appear that you say came from Santa (thus providing "evidence") then why would they buy it? And, come on, are the cultures that choose not to do Santa just providing miserable magicless childhoods for their young. Come on. Talk about know-it-all.

Hey, how about telling the kids who do believe up front that some kids don't believe so if anyone ever says something they can just smile and move on rather than fight about it (not that they're sad, mean, nasty, dark children). I don't even worry about it with my kids. If someone says the tooth-fairy isn't real, I'll just say "what do you think"? I will not make this the be-all-end-all and infuse so much symbolism and project so much neurosis around the significance in one thing or another. If he chooses not to believe, or listens to someone else, he'll believe in something else. I don't think I'm in charge of his imagination. i certainly don't want him to crumble just because someone has a different opinion from his.

Sorry, the judgement and emotional investment on the parts of parents and educators on behalf of Santa and his ilk seems to border on irrational and I definitely have taken offense. My mom probably should have told me not too be soooo sensitive (actually she did).
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#94 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 01:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newmom22
When asked a direct question by a child who respects and trusts me my best response has been to be neutral and stick to the concept of believing in him = gifts. All kids get that, whether they believe in Santa or not.
And oh hey, explain this for me? So basically, using Santa as a material goods deliverer? Kids who don't believe in Santa don't get presents? Come again? Poor Jewish Jeffrey, he doesn't get presents because he doesn't believe in Santa...poor guy. Hmm.

She gets presents at Grandma's from "Santa" even though she doesn't believe in Santa. But we have strongly deemphasized the gift aspect of christmas in our family in any case...the family, crafts, and togetherness aspects are far more important.
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#95 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 02:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by newmom22
"When asked a direct question by a child who respects and trusts me my best response has been to be neutral and stick to the concept of believing in him = gifts. All kids get that, whether they believe in Santa or not."

Wow, I didn't even catch that. How could you possibly say that as a statement of fact? Neutral would be "You believe this and you believe that" without any of your beliefs interjected. Many parents would object to Santa being tied so brazenly to an expectation of gifts. Other parents would object to their kids who don't believe being coerced into believing for fear that their gifts won't come if they don't. For every Christmas my kids have gotten one special gift under the tree on Christmas morning, no from Santa note, no explanation, when they ask, I've just shrugged, "well what do you think"? Some years my older has concluded they're from Santa while others he just tears them open and says thank you! I would never want him to think those presents won't be there if he doesn't believe in Santa.

I'm so sorry if it seems I'm picking on you. I'm just having such a hard time comprehending your rationale and that you think that's neutral.

I'm curious if you are a Waldorf teacher. I have never considered discussing this issue with my kids teachers but maybe I should. They seem to do a wonderful job at staying neutral in most situation, I wonder if they maintain that composure when questions of "belief" come up.

I'd love anyone's input on that.
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#96 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 03:57 PM
 
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I thought it was a great article, but I'm not sure mom fully thought through the message she sent her daughter. I think I get what she was trying to say, but the message, 'your brother needs to believe in Santa' a) is unlikely to work in getting big sis to back off and b) isn't respectful of the child's belief so much as it is giving in to his immaturity or eccentricity. I think all of us as parents struggle to hit the perfect note every time--I don't have fabulous success at it either.

I agree with Lilianna that it doesn't quite feel right to keep adding lie after lie to preserve the 'magic'. As I said, I never really told my children Santa was a real person, so perhaps I inadvertently sidestepped much in the way of responsibility for my children's belief in him. I didn't find it that hard to do while being truthful for the most part. If they had questions like 'how does Santa come to so many houses in one night", I'd give them answers such as, "I think Santa must have many helpers". Our children sort of transitioned from the joy of 'believing in Santa' to the belief in the joy of 'being Santa'. (though I'm not sure that my youngest has made this transition)

In one of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, there is a very tender chapter about how Ma handled her children's questions about Santa. And I'm still hopeless sap for the New York Sun piece, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus". I'm more comfortable with that kind of Santa than I am playing Santa as some kind of hoax pulled on little children, like crop circles or something.

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#97 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 04:19 PM
 
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I love the story of Mr. Edwards meeting Santa in the blizzard and bringing the gifts to Laura and Mary. What a sweet man he was.
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#98 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 08:13 PM
 
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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!

Wife to Dh Mom to Ds (6) Dd (3)
and our brand new Ds
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#99 of 103 Old 04-14-2006, 08:57 PM
 
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Sorry, I guess I was directing some of my comments to you and addressing other posts as well.

I don't want to argue. If my posts didn't make sense to you, I probably won't find the right words to convey my thoughts.

But, I'm going to try to be clearer. My main point is that it is not up to a teacher to define Santa for anyone and regardless of what the kids want from you, you can keep yourself out of it and address the name-calling and bullying directly.

I also think it is in the best interest to convey to believers and non-believers alike that others may have an opposing view and to be prepared for that.

I would not want you telling my Jewish child what Hannukah is or isn't either. Still, Jewish kids may get a bunch of toys that they know come from their parents. But, some don't get a visit from Santa which is a very magical concept that can elicit a sense of "well he comes to those kids houses but not mine". Again, my kids have Santa so it would be innacurate for you to try to define these details to a group of children.

I have two kids going bonkers right now so it's hard to concentrate. Rainy day.

As far as throwing stones, I know what I think is appropriate from a teacher and you are obviously entitled to disagree.

The behavior of children (name-calling etc.) is what you should address, not your version of what Santa means.

I hope you will at least take from this a little more empathy for the children and parents who are conflicted and don't really want the conventional, commercial interpretation of Santa promoted to their children.

Waldorf teachers are particularly adept at refusing to answer questions directly that they think are either above the kids' heads or too contraversial. It can be done with love and respect and a little authority.

I wish you luck as I'm sure it's a daunting task to accomodate all the varying expectations of parents like me.

Peace
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#100 of 103 Old 04-25-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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Is this tread just for discussing the way Waldorf and Montessori deal with fantasy or can we also discuss other aspects ?
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#101 of 103 Old 04-25-2006, 10:25 PM
 
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go for it jalilah!
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#102 of 103 Old 04-26-2006, 05:09 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It's for everything mentioned in my first post and any other comparison of different pedagogical methods that you would like to make. I have not been able to post here recently because not enough time.

The French Ministry of Education has announced that the methode globale (the French term for whole language method) will no longer be used to teach reading in schools and as of September 2006, teachers will be required to used synthetic phonics to teach children to read. What is more, some French educators are saying that in order for the phonics method to be effective, it has to be taught earlier, as often by the time a child is 6 years old, they no longer learn to associate sounds with a letter as well (something about learning phonemes and learning speech and the association of the two but I am not a professional educator so don't really know the lingo so well).

Anyway, now there is this experiment going on in Savoie, France, in which a class of 5-year old kindergarteners are being taught to read within one week using synthetic phonics. This is to demonstrate to the Ministry of Education that reading should begin in kindergarten and not in grade one as is now. The state channel, France 2, is televising it.

I personally do not understand why phonics would not be used as the basis of reading in a language that uses letters to represent sounds, at its base. If it were Chinese, that would be another matter but to me, starting with looking at whole words makes no sense in English. And I still don't see why one cannot teach phonics and at the same time use stories, poems and nursery rhymes to enhance reading comprehension. My impression is that the whole language approach throws the baby out with the bath water. A child might be able to comprehend what she is reading should she come across words and sentences she recognizes, but if she is not able to decode a word, she has not mastered reading.

Roman Goddess, mom to J (August 2004) and J (April 2009).    h20homebirth.gif signcirc1.gif
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#103 of 103 Old 04-28-2006, 10:02 PM
 
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