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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Partly a vent, partly a "what would you do."<br><br>
DS is in grade 2 at a public school. In Canada that is supposed to mean non-religious (not sure whether it has the same connotation in other countries). Lately, in music class, they have been learning Christmas carols. One is a generic winter-holiday song, but one specifically mentions Jesus. "The king is born" etc. etc.<br><br>
I have no problem with him learning *about* Jesus. I have no problem with him learning *about* any religion. But this is a public school, and religion is not supposed to be taught at all. Also, he's not learning about Jesus, he's just being inflicted with the assumption that he's Christian. (Uh, we aren't.)<br><br>
This is a relatively small town in Alberta. About 30,000 people, and there are about 7 different churches of various denominations. No synagogues, no mosques. Leads me to the conclusion that non-Christians are an extremely small minority.<br><br>
I want to say something to the school, but at the same time I don't really want to make a big stink. Kind of a pick-your-battles thing. Besides, we just moved here a month ago, and I'm not sure I want the first impression of me to be some kind of anti-religious troublemaker. KWIM? I have no problem at all with religious people of any denomination. I guess I just want to point out that the assumption that everyone is Christian is invalid. Also, I sure didn't expect to encounter this at a public school.<br><br>
Other than this, the school is wonderful. Great facilities, DS likes his teacher and already has friends in class.<br><br>
Should I kick up a big stink, or just let it go, and teach DS about other winter holidays on my own time?
 

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I would absolutely bring it up, but maybe I'm a pot-stirrer <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol">
 

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Is HE having a problem with it? Does he understand what it all means?<br><br>
We are not any religion per say and I would be a little uncomfortable with your situation as well (I am not there yet, DS is only in preschool).<br><br>
If he is confused or conflicted about any of it I would politely bring it up to the school, but if not, I would let it slide and teach him about other holidays/religions on my own since Christianity is being brought up at the moment.<br><br>
Although, I'm pretty easy going and not much of a pot-stirrer<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">
 

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I grew up in the bible belt, and at that time there were very few non-christians in school. As a Hindu, non-secular songs sung in the chior (middle school and up) didn't bother me that much, as we would sing songs from a lot of different cultures. And they would be selected for difficulty and technique.<br><br>
But I think younger groups should stick with the jingle bell type songs. I would bring it up with the music teacher. I would bring it up especially since he isn't conflicted. He shouldn't be made to feel like christianity is the only religion. (as I was growing up)
 

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This happened to me when I was growing up. I was raised Buddhist in a very Christian part of the country (U.S.). The elemetary music teacher was a devout Christian and we did sing religious-type carols and non-religious carols. I don't remember my mom making a stink about the chirstmas songs (we celebrated christmas tree/santa claus/presents kind of a christmas), but she did complain to the school when my teacher was trying to give us religious studies.
 

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I grew up Jewish and encountered this a bit in elementary schools...I was fine with old standards ("Silent Night," for instance) but when it started to get esoteric (like songs the music teacher wrote herself) I spoke up. (My very first act of civil disobedience was refusing to sing a song from the teacher's own pen, that was clearly a prayer, in 4th grade. I got sent to the principal. My parents were called in, agreed with me -- and when the principal realized just what was going on, he agreed with me, too).<br><br>
I'm very secular now but still operate on the same principle...heck, "O Holy Night" done right is one of my favorite things about this time of year ... but grade 2 seems awfully young to be moving away from Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman. I might ingratiate myself with the music teacher -- find out what's up, what else they're learning, ask if other traditions are being included, too, and start from there.
 

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I think it is interesting that, as a christian, I was worried about sending my children to a public montessori (where they mainly have secular songs for christmas) because I was worried that the secular ideas taught would turn DD against what we believe to be true.<br><br>
I WAS worried until I realized that what DH and I believe will always (at this age anyways) mean more than what she may be getting somewhere else.<br><br>
ALso I decided that learning about different religions isn't scary- it is just a springboard to talking to DD about others beliefs while reiterating what we believe to be truth. YOur DS will always be exposed to beliefs that you won't necessarily agree with- that's just life. If she didn't hear it from her teacher she would see a natavity scene somewhere or hear a spiritual christmas song on the radio (especially in the bible belt where you and I both live- I'm Southern ALberta <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"> I don't see that the teacher is really, truly teaching her christianity- just presenting a multicultural song, somewhat like my DD hearing Santa Claus songs and asking me the other day if he was real. I just explained " no but it is fun to pretend"- end of her questions even though she sees references to Santa being real EVERYWHERE. I mean at least your DS doesn't have to deal with fake Jesus's walking around <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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I don't know if there's any way you can find this out, but I know at my niece's elementary they often do a "Holidays around the world" kind of theme for the Winter Concert. Therefore one class does Hanakah (sp? Sorry) another will talk about Kwanza, etc. Maybe your DC is just in the Christian part?
 

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I'm not a pot-stirrer either, so this would be really difficult for me too. I would be uncomfortable with the songs, but I'm not really sure if it's worth fighting. I would fight for myself, but I would be more hesitant when it came to my child. I can take being set apart because I'm different, but I'm not sure I want my child to experience that at such a young age especially when they might not understand.<br><br>
I don't have any advice, but I do have a LOT of sympathy for your situation. Good luck!
 

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I mistakingly stirred the pot (regarding something I thought was pretty insensitive) at Thanksgiving and I regret it. I had to spend a good hour on the phone with the teacher soothing her ruffled feathers. I won't be doing it again. I would, however, talk with your child about it in a "what an interesting cultural experience this is for you" sort of way. I mean... if you went to school in Israel you might get Jewish religious influences and if you went to Egypt you might get Islamic religious influences, it happens you're in small-town Alberta getting protestant religious influences in your school. Maybe you can spin it like that?
 

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For me it would depend on the presentation.<br><br>
If throughout the year they sing a wide variety of stuff and this is just one or two pieces, then fine. If this is the only time they sing then I would definitely ask that pieces from other cultures be included. Nicely, of course. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"><br><br>
For me, I hasten to say, "non-religious" doesn't mean never ever mentioning religion, but not giving one religion precedence. I'm more about inclusion than exclusion but it has to be fairly real - really integrating different cultural events into the school year. At my son's montessori they seem to do a fairly decent job of celebrating different holidays throughout the year.
 

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I would leave it alone. Your child is going to come in contact with many different things in his life. There are other things much worse to be worried about. If it was about another "religion" would you be as concerned?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So here's the letter I'm thinking about sending to DS's teacher. Could you tell me what you think? I'm wondering if it's excessively passive-aggressive ("of COURSE you'll be learning about other traditions") or overly politically correct or just plain too formal?<br><br>
BTW the reference to French Canadian culture is because it's a French immersion school.<br><br><br>
Dear Teacher,<br><br>
I would like to learn more about the winter holiday celebrations at [school name]. [DS name] tells me that one of the songs he is learning is the Huron Carol, but he can’t remember any others! I’m interested in finding out about the other cultures the grade 2’s will be learning about this season—maybe I can help expand his horizons beyond the secular Santa Claus/presents experience of Christmas.<br><br>
I must admit to some surprise that a Christian carol was being taught in a public school, although of course it makes sense given the French Canadian roots of the song. I imagine I’m just not hearing the full context, as [DS name] would probably not recognize, for example, a Chanukkah song without being given some background information, but mention of Jesus jumps out at him.<br><br>
This can be a sensitive topic, which is why I’m bringing it up initially over email rather than in person. My motivation here is not pro- or anti-religion, since I believe that learning about many religious traditions is an important part of appreciating diversity. Really, I’m just curious about my new community, and interested in hearing more.<br><br>
Sincerely,<br>
me<br><br><br>
Please also let me clarify here (maybe I should in the letter too) that it's not the specific religion here that I have a problem with. Really I don't have a huge problem at all. It's more just surprise that religion is mentioned at all in a public school. OK, maybe "mentioned" is the wrong word. That they are participating in something vaguely religious? It's just not what I expected, so I want to find out more about it.<br><br>
Sure there are bigger things to worry about. (You should have seen the ruckus I raised at his last school over problems with the school bus company. But that's a whole different rant.) I'm just kind of...wondering, that's all.
 

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I am not sure if this is helpful info or not but...<br>
I was not raised Christian, but am one now. I think that elementary music teachers probably aim for familiarity and singability rather than<br>
Christian or non-Christian holiday propaganda/evagalism. I don't think the lyrics will have any lasting impact on him or your family (same as when my dd sings "spin the dreidel")<br>
That being said, I think your letter is well worded and balanced. I especially like the ending bit about learning about your new community.<br><br>
My $.02, not worth much<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/innocent.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="shy">
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You know what? I'm not going to send the letter. It's not constructive, and there is no reason to get into something that is that sensitive and potentially cause bad feelings all around. It would be more useful if I used this as a "teachable moment" and explore these things with my son.<br><br>
Thank you mamas for helping me see some viewpoints other than my own on this one! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>flight</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9875297"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">You know what? I'm not going to send the letter. It's not constructive, and there is no reason to get into something that is that sensitive and potentially cause bad feelings all around. It would be more useful if I used this as a "teachable moment" and explore these things with my son.<br><br>
Thank you mamas for helping me see some viewpoints other than my own on this one! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile"></div>
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I still stand by my post but I have to say I am always so torn about the Huron Carol. From all accounts Jean de Brebeuf was a very decent person and wrote the song as a true gift. It's also very beautiful.<br><br>
But he was a missionary and so I am always a little torn about its colonial & conversion roots. So, if I were talking to my son about it, I might mention that aspect. At least when I thought he was ready. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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Here's how I see it- when I was a kid, we sang beautiful Chanukkah songs as well and traditional and modern Christmas carols. We sang traditional ones for cultural/historical reasons. We learned the story behind "Silent Night" for example. A lot of us were Jewish, so we sang traditional Jewish songs as well. The way we saw it, we learning about each other and coming together.<br>
Where I teach now, it's even more complex. We have many Latin peoples who have wonderful Christmas traditions to share, and we use holidays to get children familiar with each other's cultures. We also have a few Jehovah's Witnesses who cannot sing carols, paint a Christmas tree, or celebrate anything at all. We have to send these children out of the room! So they usually come down to the library with me, which they love, but how awful to be asked to leave. The reasoning is that we won't force anybody to go against their religion, but the few should not carry veto power over everyone else.<br>
Well, it's one of the sticky areas of a multicultural society, but it's better than being homogeneous.
 

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I could be completely wrong here, but it's my understanding that Canada used to teach religion in school until fairly recently. I know that a lot of public schools in Quebec have religious names.<br><br>
Personally I have no problem with Christmas carols, but that is just me.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>meowee</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/9881329"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I could be completely wrong here, but it's my understanding that Canada used to teach religion in school until fairly recently. I know that a lot of public schools in Quebec have religious names.<br><br>
Personally I have no problem with Christmas carols, but that is just me.</div>
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Quebec is very different from the rest of Canada. They have a lot of interesting differences with education. That said, I remember saying the Lord's Prayer in school in Ontario in the late 70s. By the 80s that was no longer the case. By the time I taught in the 90s, religion in Toronto public schools, anyway (not the public Catholic board, which is a whole other thing), is not taught in terms of "this is right." Sometimes kids are taught ABOUT religions but they are not taught a religion.
 
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