Christmas??

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by AdamnJakesMommy, Nov 25, 2013.

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  1. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Nov 25, 2013

    Is it okay to buy Christmas décor for the classroom? Or would it be advisable just to not do it. I don't want to offend anybody, I have never asked my students what their religious beliefs are--because it doesn't matter to me---but would buying a cute little snowman from Michaels or a little Christmas tree be a bad idea?

    I would still clear it with admin, but I don't want to even approach/suggest it if it's ill-advised.
     
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  3. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Why would you want to possibly alienate students who may not celebrate Christmas?
     
  4. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    I don't think snowmen are a religious symbol, but I personally would not be comfortable putting a Christmas tree in my classroom. However, administration is sponsoring a huge Christmas tree decorating contest in the main foyer, so my preference for not displaying Christmas symbols isn't due to administration pressure. I simply think it's in poor taste and not very inclusive.
     
  5. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    I've seen in other schools some teachers put up Christmas lights and have those singing/boogey woogey/ dancing reindeer/santas/etc (God only knows why they would want that aggravating thing! lol).

    I'm not a real Christmasy-person--I actually HATE decorating, because it makes a mess. But I like cutesy--especially snowmen. I would keep snowmen up all winter--personally I don't see an association between snowmen and Christmas, but some people might?? There are some really cute snowmen at target and Michael's that I thought about buying. Maybe I'll just get it for my house.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    If your school is ok with it, I say go ahead - whatever brightens your mood.
     
  7. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I think snowmen is fine. :) I just wouldn't do a tree.
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Nov 25, 2013

    In my first school we had trees up around the school and we sang christmas carols every morning the week before Christmas break. The kids loved it. It was such an amazing tradition. Since it was obviously okay, I put up a cute little display with candy canes and bells. I also had my kids decorate christmas cookies the day before break since as a non-classroom teacher I don't get to have the traditional holiday parties. I loved our atmosphere around Christmas. Personally, I think people are way too caught up in being overly PC. If someone put a menorah up I wouldn't care at all even though it doesn't apply to me. In fact, I'd be appreciative that they were trying to make the room/school look nice. We did have 3 kids in my first school that were Jewish. They were just as enthusiastic about the singing each morning as any other kid. It doesn't matter that it's not "their" holiday...it was fun!

    Last year we weren't allowed to celebrate any holiday at all because every day was "100% focused on instruction." So obviously I didn't put anything up then.

    The SLP told me that our school will put up a couple of trees in December. I'm going to put out snowmen and snowflake stuff, not because I'm afraid of decorating for Christmas but because if it's more "winter" themed I can leave my decorations out in January too. I won't be able to do the cookies this year because I have a diabetic student, but I'm working on an alternative for the day before break.
     
  9. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    I strongly disagree with the idea that people are too caught up in being overly PC. That's just saying that you don't care that your students and their families might not feel like their culture is being affirmed.

    It's a different matter if you are certain that all of your students do celebrate Christmas. But if they don't, don't you see why it can be hard for some students?
     
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    No. If an activity is fun for students, of course they're going to like participating in it. I worked at a summer camp that wasn't specifically a religious camp, but 95% of the staff and campers were Jewish. They brought a lot of those traditions into our daily life at camp. It would be ridiculous for me to think that they should discontinue their traditions because a handful of people and I weren't Jewish. I worked in the 12 year old cabin, so bat mitzvahs were common topics among my co-counselors and the campers. I certainly wasn't sitting there feeling "alienated" because I didn't know much about them. If someone said "happy hanukkah" to me, I'd thank them and move on. It's not like I would be thinking, "How dare they say happy hanukkah to me! I celebrate Christmas!" I think that it's kind of insulting that people assume that those in other religions would react negatively to someone spreading some holiday cheer.
     
  11. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Maybe you felt that way because as a Christian, your faith/practices have been completely supported by society? So having one instance where you were in the religious minority wasn't a big deal for you...and in addition, we are talking about public schools here.

    I don't think schools should teach for just the majority, and expect that the minority should just deal with not being recognized in a school celebration that is so large. There are students we are talking about. We need to recognize ALL of our students. We are talking about public schools here.

    When you talk about the "Happy Hanukkah" situation, it's completely different from what we are talking about. I also do not get offended when people wish me Happy Hanukkah, even though I am not Jewish. I just don't see how it relates to the topic of actively celebrating Christmas in schools.

    I just think it's inconsiderate. When schools are becoming diverse, there are many holidays that people celebrate. Just having a Christmas celebration is not teaching diversity. As educators, we cannot just choose the most popular holiday to celebrate and leave students out.

    A winter celebration would be more appropriate, inclusive, and just as fun.
     
  12. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    I agree with this. If I was in a culture where a particular holiday was widely celebrated, I wouldn't be offended by that even if I didn't celebrate it. I would, of course, stay away from anything religious within the classroom, but if admin is fine with it and you don't know of any students who would have a particular offense to it, I think it would be fine
     
  13. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    When I have done holiday units in my class, we cover as many different celebrations as I have resources for. Most years it was at least Hannakuh, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. The Christmas lesson was always secular (no religious anything) and focused on how it is celebrated in countries around the world. All three lessons focused on kindness and giving to others, a common thread for a holidays. I think it's important to be exposed to celebrations outside your culture/ religion. I've also taught about Cinco de Mayo, the history of Valentines Day, Veterans Day, etc.

    I live in the Bible Belt and, to my knowledge, have not taught a student who celebrated something other than Christmas. If I have someone who does in the future, I would be sure to plan a lesson about the holiday they do celebrate, and I would invite the child to share traditions from their family.
     
  14. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Nov 26, 2013

    I have a little 12 inch Christmas tree in the corner of my room. All of my students celebrate Christmas, so I'm not worried about it. I would immediately take it down if someone were offended though.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    There's so much great WINTER stuff out there-- from penguins to snowmen to polar bears.

    Why risk aiienating some of your kids over a symbol they don't believe in?

    Plus, of course, with 4th graders, you run the risk of the "Santa isn't real anyway" discussions if you post a picture of him. Far, far safer to stick to winter themes in elementary school classrooms.
     
  16. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I put window decals up and give out stickers. I have them write if they're okay with it or not. I had one kid say no, but I've talked to him about it and he's okay with decorations. He's an atheist.
     
  17. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Are you comparing being an adult who voluntary worked at a summer camp for a particularly population to being a child for whom attendance at a (probably) public school is mandatory?
     
  18. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    The other problem is that most likely kids are not going to speak up if they feel uncomfortable. Why would a kid speak up if he/she knows that the activities would stop? All the other kids would get mad.

    I agree that there are a lot of great winter decorations that you could get. Just as you don't make cookies because of the diabetic student, don't celebrate Christmas in the classroom because of the non-Christian students. I know it's hard because the Christmas season is very cheery and fun but I wouldn't risk it
     
  19. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    I do and we have a great time. I have a little tree up in my classroom and I asked all my students to bring a book from home to put under our tree. Every day we read one of the books. I sent a note home about this activity and not a single parent complained.
     
  20. GemStone

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    Nov 26, 2013

    Ask yourself how you would feel if Adam or Jake's public school teacher put up religious decor that alienated your children. What if that teacher was atheist, Jewish, Muslim, agnostic, etc. and chose the classroom to represent it?
     
  21. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    He said no, but you still didn't respect his wishes?
     
  22. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Exactly.
     
  23. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I personally wouldn't put up a tree in my classroom but my school puts up a tree in the lobby so I'm thinking it would be supported if that was my choice. As far as other decorations go, are you able to let the students make their own crafts to hang up and it can be their choice what to do? If they want to do a Christmas or Kwanzaa craft they can. Also have choices of just Winter themed things like snowmen, snowflakes, penguins, whatever. That way you are given them a choice.
     
  24. OhThePlaces

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    You definitely can't go wrong with snowman or penguins!

    I have a small Christmas tree up in my classroom. (All of my students celebrate). Our school has a huge Christmas tree up in the lobby with "Angel Tree" tags... And several teachers go all out with their Christmas decorating.

    I have a related question... I've seen some cute Hannakuh decor (menorahs, dreidels, etc.) that I would be happy to display with the tree. Since I KNOW that my students all celebrate Christmas, would this be taken the wrong way? If I had even one Jewish student, I wouldn't have a second thought about displaying them both. Thoughts?
     
  25. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Exactly why asking students isn't the best way.
     
  26. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Why not decorate for all December holidays if you are going to do Christmas? Have a tree for Christmas, have a menorah for Hanukkah, have a Kinara for Kwanzaa, etc. Do a lesson on all of the holidays listed.

    Now if you do penguins, put up a plain tree and maybe put snow on it.
     
  27. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    In my beginning of the year paperwork I ask parents about holidays they don't want their child taking part in. I usually get a couple of them say Halloween and I've had a few say Mardi Gras. I teach in a small, rural school with not a lot of variety of cultures represented. We do have a tree up, every year. If I ever have a parent say no to some aspect of Christmas, I wouldn't put up the tree.
     
  28. Jerseygirlteach

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    I completely agree with this. As a non-Christian, I can tell you that Christmas time always made me feel really left out. Sure, there was always a token Menorah somewhere, but everyone knew that it was really about Christmas time. However, as a "Why does everyone have to be offended by everything" person, I also know that Christians don't mean any harm by this, either. :) Just also realize that I NEVER would have spoken up as a kid or as an adult if someone asked me if I minded a room bursting with Christmas trees, nativity scenes, and Santa Clauses.
     
  29. stampin'teacher

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    :thumb:

    All this winter stuff can be JUST as fun, without running any risk of leaving students out. Especially because-as some have said-many students may not feel comfortable speaking out, even if given the opportunity.

    After we get back from break, we are continuing our science unit and are growing crystals in the form of snowflakes. It's SUPER fun & perfect for celebrating the winter season! Especially because for many people in SoCal, it's the only "snowflake" we're going to see this year.... :haha:
     
  30. TeacherNY

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    Is this activity online somewhere? I would love to make the crystals for my class!
     
  31. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    If you read my whole post, you'll notice I said I talked to him about it. He explained he didn't want stickers but he's okay with having decorations in the room. I have one Santa on a window. I made sure he was okay with it. We have a very good relationship so that's why I talked to him in private.
     
  32. i8myhomework

    i8myhomework Comrade

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    I do Christmas decorations... I just don't get the whole "Winter Wonderland" thing. All the students in my class celebrate Christmas except for three students who celebrate Hanukkah, so I decorate for that too. I celebrate both so I enjoy decorating! The kids love helping me too.
     
  33. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    I have decorated for holidays(non religious) for the past 18 years...and every year, those students and parents that don't celebrate a holiday for religious regions said that it doesn't bother them at all.
     
  34. FourSquare

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    Also, arguably, a small tree is not the same as a giant nativity set or something. It's the only Christmas thing I have. Everything else is snowmen and sparkly snowflakes. :) I think it's homey.
     
  35. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Snowmen are fine. I mean...snowpeople. ;)
     
  36. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Merry Christmas........no wait , Happy Thanksgiving.
    My son, 9 years old, cracked me up about an hour ago.
    In the yard doing decorations. I told him I may paint Merry Christmas
    on the back drop behind my old plastic Santa and Frosty guys.
    Then I said maybe NOEL. He asked what that was and I said Christmas. Then he said maybe I could paint Happy Harmonica.
    Had to think a second. :woot:
     
  37. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Well the office now has a big ol' Christmas tree up in it. Sounds like snowmen are not going to be an issue. Personally I have mixed feelings about religion, I don't go to church or anything and I'm not sure if I believe God exists. Christmas is more for my children. So honestly, I wouldn't care if there were Jewish or Muslim or atheist or agnostic or Buddhist or whatever decorations. But I can see how a family strongly convicted might be offended. So the putting myself in someone shoes doesn't help me in this situation.
     
  38. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    That really didn't answer my question.
     
  39. Bella2010

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    I think things like this can be analyzed to death. If you put up a Christmas decor in your room, you might make the kids who don't celebrate Christmas feel awkward. If you don't put up Christmas decor, you might disappoint the kids who do celebrate Christmas. The world doesn't sway to a particular person's beliefs. Instead, everyone has to be tolerant of everyone else's. :2cents:

    Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.

    Side note: I didn't celebrate holidays growing up. In school, my teachers decorated for holidays. I knew I was different and that I had different beliefs. It wasn't a big deal to me, nor my parents. The never expected the teachers to change based on our, usually the only in the class, beliefs.
     
  40. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    I feel the separation of church and state is the deciding factor here. Schools are not supposed to promote any religion

    As for the kids who celebrate Christmas, they can do tha at home.
     
  41. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Okay. Let's try this again. You asked me to imagine that Adam's classroom teacher displayed other religious traditions in the classroom. Put myself in those shoes and how would I feel?

    My answer was quite plainly--I wouldn't PERSONALLY care. I don't have strong religious convictions (none actually) so it wouldn't bother me.

    In the same sentence I also said that I can see how a family with strong religious convictions might be offended by Christmas décor (if they are Jewish for example) or Jewish décor (if they are Christian). But I cannot empathize because I don't have these strong convictions, I do NOT know how it would feel. But I can sympathize and see how it could be problematic.

    Not sure why you are directly making this point, seeing how the latter posts describes me as NOT being Christmasy--I don't really like it--but I like cutesy. I just want to put cute snowmen in my classroom.
     
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