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Posted on November 25, 2012 2:43 am
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Yasar Bodur
Yasar Bodur
Reps: 614
Religious Indoctrination
I have quite a diverse classroom this year. There are many cultures and religions represented. Students get along very well. This must be the beauty of elementary age. Children approach each other with no racial or cultural bias. As we just entered the month of December, I decorated my classroom with a small Christmas tree and added more Christmas related books to my classroom library. We also watched a few short cartoons with Santa Clause and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I did not realize that my efforts to bring some Christmas spirit to my classroom would cause trouble. Two days ago I had some usual meetings with a few parents in my classroom. Two of the parents started questioning me about the Christmas tree. One of the parents was from India, and the other one was from Jordan. They asked me if I decorated my classroom for special days of other religions and I did not. They essentially suggested at the end that I was trying to indoctrinate the students into Christianity. I was really hurt by their suggestion because this was really not my intention. One parent was especially upset because he said he has been trying to teach his religion to his daughter but he felt like his daughter knew more about Christmas than his religious holidays. I have been thinking about what these parents said. Were they right? How would you address this issue?
 
     
     
 
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Solution 1
Posted November 26, 2012 10:54 am

Adam Vandenhouten
Adam Vandenhouten
Reps: 97
Although I am sure your intentions were good, I do agree that the parents had justification for confronting you about it. I myself am guilty of decorating for Christmas in my classroom because Christianity is my practiced religion as well. However, I do believe that teachers should be more aware of the other religions present in their classrooms. One year I had a student whose family was from Germany and they were Jewish. I decided to do a Christmas around the World that year and study the traditions of many different countries and cultures. We decorated the room with things that represented each country that we studied. The kids loved it and learned a lot about different cultures that they may not have had a chance to study otherwise. This works especially well with elementary students because they love creating artwork during lessons anyway and it makes for a creative and decorative classroom. You could also invite the students and their parents to share about their own culture and practices, which would also add to the knowledge of the entire class and show the parents that you care and are interested in their child.
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Comments posted for this solution

SaSyXu
SaSyXu
Reps: 105
I really like your idea of Christmas around the World...that would let every student feel like they are being represented in the room!
  Posted on: October 21, 2014 8:08 pm

aHeRaL
aHeRaL
Reps: 112
I disagree that the parents were right to confront the teacher in this case. I always welcome conversation and dialogue, but it should remain cordial and non confrontational. I do think your Christmas around the world idea is a good compromise that still recognizes the culture of the community, but also allows for expression from other groups and students within the community as well.
  Posted on: October 24, 2014 7:41 pm

aQazuV
aQazuV
Reps: 105
I think the idea of Christmas Around the World is a great idea. Living in a small community, I have never experienced this issue because all of my students celebrated Christmas. I do think that teaching students about other religions and holidays would not only be educational but also "fair" to those who may have different beliefs.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 4:45 pm

aheduX
aheduX
Reps: 112
I love this idea, Christmas around the world. I do something similar. I allow the students to describe and discuss what they do during "Winter Holidays". I also allow them to bring something that shows their unique culture. This allows students to see not all people celebrate the same thing or way. This also creates a learning experience for the students.
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 7:27 pm

Myzusy
Myzusy
Reps: 113
I really like your solution. Having a Holiday Around the World celebration would encourage children from many diverse backgrounds to learn about each other. I would try to get parents involved by sharing their traditions, foods and decorations. That would enable parents to help guide their children in better understanding their personal family holiday/religious celebrations while also supporting the school home connection.
  Posted on: October 28, 2014 1:38 am

ezasyp
ezasyp
Reps: 107
I like your idea of looking at holidays around the world but I would not call it Christmas! I know that it is big to call things Christmas instead of Holidays but our society is sifting and therefore we need to respect all involved. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. However I do like your idea a lot. It could be a good learning and sharing experience for all students!
  Posted on: October 29, 2014 4:19 pm

Kayla Mullins
Kayla Mullins
Reps: 89
I think next time you begin teaching about Christmas you should send out a letter to the parents stating your intentions. I think the letter should ask the parents if they have a desired culture that they would like for you to present to the students to help them learn about Christmas around the World.
-Kayla Mullins
  Posted on: October 29, 2014 9:17 pm

April Rozier
April Rozier
Reps: 110
I love the idea of Christmas Around the World! Being aware of the varying religious and cultural beliefs of the students in your classroom is crucial due to the very situation we are discussing now. Attempting to include something from everyone's background will show that you are a culturally sensitive teacher.
  Posted on: October 31, 2014 9:47 pm

Jonathan Buys
Jonathan Buys
Reps: 42
I also think exploring winter holidays of other cultures is a good idea. However, you may get the opposite affect from parents who feel like you are taking away form Christmas. No matter what somebody may get upset, but I think by addressing all cultures or at least those in your classroom, you can defend yourself easier when confronted. It would also be fun and broaden your students horizons.
  Posted on: November 3, 2014 3:45 am

HyraLe
HyraLe
Reps: 73
I really love this Christmas around the world idea. I think it really gives students a chance to see how the holidays are celebrated in other countries. Having a classroom of diverse students makes this idea even better because they are able to share how their family celebrates the holidays
  Posted on: December 1, 2014 7:02 am

ehyNyn
ehyNyn
Reps: 109
I think Christmas around the world is a fantastic idea because it introduces students to other cultures around the world. At Christmas time, it might even be possible for students to perform research on a religious holiday of their choice. This would give students that were not comfortable or did not celebrate Christmas the chance to explore their own religious holidays.
  Posted on: October 20, 2015 11:59 pm

Chelsea Abbott
Chelsea Abbott
Reps: 112
Christmas Around the World is also something that I suggested. I do think that the parents are right in the way they acted and they had a reason to. Celebrating each holiday is only fair because we have to remember that one is not more superior that another. Learning more about different holidays and countries will help tie in students and their cultures. The parents will be more impressed if they notice you are teaching their students about different cultures.
  Posted on: October 23, 2015 2:23 pm

uPaSeW
uPaSeW
Reps: 209
I love the Christmas around the world activity. I think this activity allows the students to learn about other holidays that may be similar or different than their own. I also think it will allow the students to feel more welcomed and comfortable in the classroom environment.
  Posted on: October 25, 2015 8:22 pm

ezajaV
ezajaV
Reps: 102
I really like your idea of Christmas around the world. I also made this suggestion. This would allow each student to bring in something that is part of their culture.
  Posted on: October 26, 2015 11:51 am

Kateline Vaughn
Kateline Vaughn
Reps: 106
I think it would be a very good idea to have a "Christmas around the world" theme. As you stated, it gives the students an opportunity to learn about different cultures around the world. This is a great idea. I also liked that you suggested that you invite the parents. This gives them an opportunity to be involved in their child's education.
  Posted on: October 26, 2015 11:44 pm

Amanda Robinson
Amanda Robinson
Reps: 98
I also agree that Christmas around the world is a great idea. It will bring new cultures into the classroom. You could also have your students share about their respective holiday.
  Posted on: November 2, 2015 2:04 am

yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
"Christmas around the world" would not solve any of these problems. The parents came in complaining about how their religion is not represented. I don't think demonstrating how your religion is celebrated in their country would solve any problems.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 4:55 pm

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Solution 2
Posted December 1, 2012 10:13 am

Selena W Farmer
Selena W Farmer
Reps: 121
With only having a year of experience, what I saw (as compared to when I was in elem school) was completely different. Instead of celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or other religious holidays around this time of the year, the school instead we would celebrate and recognize nothing. The only celebration was to have an end of the semester party with no affiliation. Though this is one approach, I do not necessarily agree that it is the best. I think to introduce students at a young age, before they develop any bias, we should teach and expose them to as many cultural backgrounds as we can. Considering how classrooms are becoming more and more culturally diverse, I think it is smart for teachers to take advantage of willing parents and families from various backgrounds to come in and share their culture throughout the year as different holidays and customs take place.
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upyNuX
upyNuX
Reps: 100
We have some good friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses and therefore do not celebrate any holidays (including birthdays). The wife teaches at my son's school and instead of decorating for Christmas just does "wintery" decorations (snowflakes and snowmen).

Our husbands used to work together and each year my husband and I would host a Christmas holiday party for their department. If we just called it a Winter Celebration then they would come (and bring their daughter) but if it was a Christmas Party they would not come. Initially we kept it as a Christmas Party (my husband likes to re-write "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and make it relevant to their workplace), but my boys always had so much fun playing with their daughter and their daughter enjoyed playing with our sons so we finally decided the point was to have fun with our friends so we stopped relating it to Christmas (however the house is still decorated with tons of Christmas decor and twinkling lights).
  Posted on: November 2, 2013 8:17 pm

TeTugu
TeTugu
Reps: 21
I agree with your school not associating with any holiday to avoid such issues as this. Sometimes it can be difficult to address each religious holiday and by addressing all holidays, it may offend other parents, not just the ones mentioned in this situation.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 1:13 pm

aHeRaL
aHeRaL
Reps: 112
I can see the benefit in being accommodating to others, because the intent is not to offend, but to enjoy the holidays and the traditions of the culture, even though I would argue that trees and Santa Claus have no real religious affiliation. It is sad that we have come to a place where schools choose to not even reflect the culture of their place or students. Certainly if there is allowed a multiplicity of expressions, not only does the school environment become more enjoyable, but students are able to learn something about a people and group they otherwise might not have.
  Posted on: October 24, 2014 7:39 pm

yXeBeX
yXeBeX
Reps: 114
I think to avoid or not recognize any religious or cultural celebrations would be irresponsible. We can't simply avoid issues that may be uncomfortable in order to avoid conflict. What does that teach our children? If done appropriately students could be introduced to different cultures and traditions that are different from their own. This part of the learning process and should be incorporated into school lessons around the holidays.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 2:35 pm

Myzusy
Myzusy
Reps: 113
I can understand why the school chose not to recognize any religious celebrations in order to prevent offending diverse families. However, traditional celebrations such as religious holidays should be mentioned and honored so that students can understand the value of their own personal beliefs. Perhaps mid year celebrations could include the child creating decorations or other elements that are uniquely personal to them that could be written about as a class assignment and then shared at the mid year celebration.
  Posted on: October 28, 2014 1:44 am

Japuje
Japuje
Reps: 107
Most schools take this approach to avoid controversy. It is a good way to avoid hurting feelings, but it doesn't educate students about other cultures.
  Posted on: October 19, 2015 4:31 pm

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Solution 3
Posted December 6, 2012 7:46 pm

Jessica Jacobs Graham
Jessica Jacobs Graham
Reps: 116
I think this is a sticky situation. In the United States, Christmas, to many, has nothing to do with Christianity. However, for many religions the only holidays that they observe are religious ones. I would encourage your students to bring in decorations to help decorate your classroom that will reflect all of their cultures. I would also have discussed this with the kids before putting any decorations up. It could be made into a full project celebrating the winter holidays observed by all of the cultures represented in your classroom. You have to be very careful not to offend parents and tensions can often arise when parents feel that their children are be exposed to things that they may not want them exposed to. I would be as diplomatic as possible.
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Hope Crosby
Hope Crosby
Reps: 122
I like your idea of inviting students to bring their own decorations to decorate the classroom according to a variety of holidays. This would be a great way to get students interacting with one another and sharing their own beliefs and cultures with everyone else. This is a great way to represent all beliefs in your classroom.
  Posted on: October 27, 2013 5:09 pm

aheduX
aheduX
Reps: 112
I like this idea. I do something similar with my class. This shows others that not everyone celebrates Winter Holidays the same. Students are able to learn different cultural traditions as well. I think it is fun and interesting for students to share what they do or how they celebrate.
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 7:29 pm

LeHyZa
LeHyZa
Reps: 107
It is important to be diplomatic and respectful of the parents wishes. I like the idea of decorations representing each child's culture for the winter time frame. It'd be neat if this idea was extended for each season of the year.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 1:14 am

Kristen Bagwell
Kristen Bagwell
Reps: 107
This is a great idea! I think that by allowing students to bring in decorations that reflect their own cultural traditions, all students are represented, which provides a chance for students to learn about other cultures. This isn't about converting or trying to teach religion in a classroom; instead, it is simply about learning.
  Posted on: October 22, 2015 1:17 pm

ezajaV
ezajaV
Reps: 102
I like your idea of having each student bring in something to represent their culture. This would also allow the students to discuss their different cultures as a class discussion.
  Posted on: October 26, 2015 11:52 am

Kateline Vaughn
Kateline Vaughn
Reps: 106
You are correct. Many people who celebrate Christmas are not affiliated with Christianity, but it is still a sticky subject in schools and work places. I love the idea of having students make their own decorations to bring into class. By doing this, they will have the opportunity to represent their culture and beliefs.
  Posted on: October 26, 2015 11:48 pm

yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
I love your idea of asking the students to help you with decorating the classroom. This is a good way to let them feel that their culture is welcome. It's also a good way to get to know your students better.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 4:57 pm

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Solution 4
Posted December 8, 2012 10:38 pm

Laine Vilardi
Laine Vilardi
Reps: 119
All of this was done innocently with no intent to push a religion on others. This is one of the reasons I think it is important to find out this information from all students/parents at the beginning of the year. Some parents don't celebrate Halloween or Christmas, but don't mind their children participating in school activities related to these. Other parents do not want their children involved, in which case other accommodations should be made. I think it is great to bring in other other holidays celebrated around the world. Also, a lot of schools will have "Holiday" parties instead of calling them "Christmas" parties. I would explain this to the parents and that you meant no harm. It is also important to know the school policy on this type of situation and it might be appropriate to talk to administration to see what they think. If the whole school is celebrating in the same way (which is usually the case), it is obvious that it is all in good fun and in no way meant to push beliefs on others.
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Hope Crosby
Hope Crosby
Reps: 122
I agree that all of this was done in good nature. It is important to know your school's holiday policies before you start having parties/celebrations. We have 'holiday' celebrations and watch 'holiday' movies that you would see on every TV channel, most with no religious affiliation.
  Posted on: October 27, 2013 5:12 pm

TuVuze
TuVuze
Reps: 99
Even though the teacher decorated the classroom with no intent to push religion upon students, the parents were offended. Because of this, in the future, it would probably be best not to decorate the classroom with a Christmas theme. A winter theme would be a good idea as an alternative when a teacher has parents that object to their children partaking in Christmas celebrations that they do not agree with.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 3:32 pm

aQazuV
aQazuV
Reps: 105
I agree that it is important to get to know your students at the beginning of the year. We also have "holiday" parties at my school to assure that we do not disrespect those who may have different beliefs. Knowing that all of the students in the classroom had different religious beliefs, I believe the teacher should not have decorated for Christmas. I like the idea of incorporating everyone's beliefs.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 4:47 pm

Daisy Dumler
Daisy Dumler
Reps: 106
The parents weren't wrong for the way they reacted because they were not informed of the decorations. If they would have had a heads up they may have reacted differently.
  Posted on: October 31, 2015 8:34 pm

Amanda Robinson
Amanda Robinson
Reps: 98
I do agree that a teacher should tread lightly when it comes to religion. Your suggestion is great for those teachers that only have 30 students. As a high school teacher, I would just take the religious holiday away. Better safe than sorry.
  Posted on: November 2, 2015 2:06 am

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Solution 5
Posted October 30, 2013 4:36 pm

yZaveh
yZaveh
Reps: 109
I don’t think the parents were right about you trying to indoctrinate their children because that was obviously not your intentions. However, I do think they were justified in being upset that their children knew more about Christmas than their own cultures’ religious holidays. Keeping the knowledge of their culture alive is very important to the identity of many immigrant families, and you need to be aware of this as a teacher that spends so much time with these students. Get in contact with the parents of all of your immigrant students. First, apologize for not being aware of this issue and assure them that you did not have any hidden intentions. Second, ask them about their cultures and what they would like to have you incorporate in your classroom. Take these ideas and use them! It sounds like your students are very open to other cultures in general, so I’m sure they would love learning more about each other and themselves.
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Jill Elton
Jill Elton
Reps: 108
I agree that it sounds like that it was not your intention to brainwash your students minds with Christianity simply by decorating with a Christmas Tree and watching movies about Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. However, if you had taught the meanings behind the Christmas Tree and why Santa Claus is used in Christmas stories, that would be different. These two symbols of Christmas directly relate to Jesus, the Son of God. (The Christmas Tree is in the shape of a triangle, symbolizing the Trinity, and Santa Claus, A.K.A. Saint Nicholas, gave out presents secretly because he loved Jesus and wanted to share that love with others.) So my question is, what did your students really learn about Christmas? Obviously, not its true meaning. So what are parents so up in arms about?
  Posted on: October 25, 2015 5:10 am

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Solution 6
Posted October 19, 2014 2:52 pm

PyveDu
PyveDu
Reps: 101
As a kindergarten teacher, our curriculum covers the holiday Christmas, along with other Christianity holidays such as Easter. This has become an issue at times with other parents who are of other religions. As a culturally sensitive teacher, there needs to be open communication for the parents to provide information about other holidays celebrated by all students in the classroom. I allow students to share different things they do in their homes during the holidays. This is what makes it very special to others. It may not be part of the curriculum to teach the other holidays people celebrate, but it allows students to grasp a concept that others are different and able to accept others. The students really enjoy learning about the different things we celebrate. We do speak about how all of us believe in something and there is not a right or wrong belief system. That is how it makes up the world. We read books about all holidays and provide projects of different things we do during the time.
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Jordan Nelms
Jordan Nelms
Reps: 104
Very true! Our Kindergarten curriculum covers the holidays of Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. This is a great idea to help reassure the parents that the Christmas decorations weren't a way of pushing Christianity down their throats. But merely symbols used for Christmas.
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 3:52 am

GyJeWy
GyJeWy
Reps: 105
I agree. The more students know the easier it seems to be for them to accept differences.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 10:14 pm

Kristen Bagwell
Kristen Bagwell
Reps: 107
I didn't realize that holidays were covered in the curriculum. (I teach eleventh graders.) Like you say, as the teacher, you have to address the standards and the curriculum, but I think it is also beneficial to provide ways for students to learn about other cultures and create a culturally sensitive classroom.
  Posted on: October 22, 2015 1:19 pm

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Solution 7
Posted October 22, 2015 1:12 pm

Kristen Bagwell
Kristen Bagwell
Reps: 107
I teach eleventh grade students, so my point of view might be a little different than someone who teaches elementary school. I don't think that you were wrong to put up a Christmas tree or put Christmas books in your classroom library. But, at the same time, I don't necessarily blame the parents who asked you about your policies when celebrating other cultures' holidays. You might want to have a cultural celebration that is tied to a cultural research project in which students research their own cultural holidays and the holidays of other cultures; students can compare and contrast their cultural holidays to the holidays of other cultures. I know that elementary schools in my community have a "Holiday Party" instead of "Christmas Party" in December.
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Solution 8
Posted October 23, 2015 2:27 pm

Chelsea Abbott
Chelsea Abbott
Reps: 112
Although you came from a place where you did not mean to step on any toes, I can see where the parents are coming from with their own anger. Only focusing on one main holiday, such as, Christmas can make it seem like the other holidays do not mean anything. It is important to remember that one holiday is not more superior than any other. When decorating the classroom, I do not like to bring too many Christmas things if I do not bring Kwanzaa or Hanukkah things int also. Incorporating other holiday books into the library will be a great step. Christmas Around the World is one lesson that I particularly love to teach. Learning about other countries and the holidays that they celebrate will inform students that many different things are celebrated due to their culture and religion. Parents will be impressed of the ties from different countries into the classroom. The students love learning this lesson too.
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Solution 9
Posted October 25, 2013 2:19 pm

Tracy C
Tracy C
Reps: 104
First of all, the parents were wrong in the way they handled the situation. Here's why. The parents are forgetting one key important thing, you, as a teacher, have a culture as well; you choose to express and celebrate aspects of your culture in your learning environment for the students to appreciation. I do not see this as a sin. In addition, it seems as though the parents were communicating to you that your culture is not as important as theirs. I think they need a lesson in cultural diversity.

With that said, here is what my reaction would have been to the parents. First, I would have apologize for them feeling the way they did and assure them that my intent was innocent, simply an expression of my culture. Also, I would share with them ways in which I have been teaching cultural diversity in the classroom to help students tolerate, appreciate, and respect the culture and religion of others. Next, in response to the parent who was having a hard time teaching his daughter about her own cultural heritage/religion, I would have gladly intervened by inviting him to collaborate with me to share possible suggestions and ways we can help his daughter establish a connection between her culture and the school's culture. I would even invite this parent to come and share his culture and religion with the class. Also, I would share with this parent some strategies that may help him help his daughter to appreciate and identify with her home culture. Lastly, I would try intervening one-on-one with the child through dialogues to understand and possibly reshape the child's attitude and thinking toward her cultural heritage and religion (Igoa, 1995).

Reference:

Igoa, C. (1995). The inner world of the immigrant child. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum

Associates, Inc.
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Laura Doolittle
Laura Doolittle
Reps: 109


I really did not think about it like this. We do have a culture as well and it you have the right to express it. This is why I feel like the parents getting upset about the classroom decorations is silly. I also like you idea about incorporating and sharing different religions/cultures in the classroom. This would be very interesting and helps students learn about cultures different from their own.
  Posted on: October 19, 2015 7:50 pm

yVuRaR
yVuRaR
Reps: 101
Your answer was very thought out. I like how you would invite the parents to help fix what they thought was wrong. However, I disagree when you say students need to learn to respect the culture of the teacher. I understand that teachers have culture too, however I don't think this is a case of people not respecting your culture. It is hard to disrespect or be intolerant of the dominant culture (in this case Christianity). All these parents want is for their culture to be acknowledged and accepted as valid and saying that they are disrespecting your culture, the dominant culture, for simply wanting theirs represented is not the way to handle a situation like this.
  Posted on: October 3, 2016 5:03 pm

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Solution 10
Posted December 1, 2012 5:29 pm

David Sanders
David Sanders
Reps: 143
My classes at the college level tend to completely ignor religious holidays. The other side is to celebrate everything from Christmas to the Pagan Solstice-Litha. The problem is mostly a complication created by federal law proclaiming a Federal Holiday for only one religion. There are no Federal Rosh Hashanah or Ramadan holidays.
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Tracy C
Tracy C
Reps: 104
So, are you proposing that we celebrate no form of culture/religion in our schools? If so, then Multicultural Education is simply a waste of time. An educator cannot and should not have to disregard his/her culture to teach cultural diversity.
  Posted on: October 25, 2013 2:22 pm

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Solution 11
Posted December 4, 2012 11:44 am

Savanna Hayman
Savanna Hayman
Reps: 104
While I see the parents' point, you can not be hard on yourself. You were trying to d something fun and beautiful for your students and the reality is, that you are a teacher in the U.S. Christmas is everywhere. The holiday goes way beyond religious means these days, it is a full blown cultural holiday. While I would express my apologies to the parents, you can not be expected to know every single student's ethnic background and cultural holidays. I would send out a newsletter, or email to the parents of my class and let them know that you would like to include everyone's special holidays in your class, but that you can only do that if they let you know when the holidays are. Making a calendar with all important holidays to students would be a fun way to make sure everyone is included.
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Emily West
Emily West
Reps: 102
I really like the idea of sending a newsletter to parents and creating a calendar that includes all different holidays and celebrations from different cultures and religions. I think the kids would have a lot of fun doing this and it is a great learning opportunity for all.
  Posted on: October 21, 2013 3:25 pm

A Battles
A Battles
Reps: 115
I like the calender idea then students could see other student's holidays year round.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 3:13 pm

Meredith Bryant
Meredith Bryant
Reps: 106
A newspaper or just classroom calendar would be a great way to involve parents and their cultures and be sure that you don't miss celebrating them yourself. I think a lot of times, students from different cultures already feel such a barrier to certain norms that we have here, that when we pay a lot of attention like we always do, to Christmas each year, they can feel even more left out. The trick is to include all of your students and knock down that barrier as best as you can. The best way to do that is to prepare yourself for things like this that can come your way!
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 5:14 pm

egyveW
egyveW
Reps: 103
A newspaper and calendar are great ways to involve parents in the festivities. I also think you made some great points about the culture of Americans. Even though America is a melting pot of different cultures, there is a dominant, more commercialized viewpoint on holidays that have very little to do with religion and shouldn't be undermined simply because it is the most widely used.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 2:02 am

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Solution 12
Posted December 6, 2012 1:29 pm

Jessica DeLaigle
Jessica DeLaigle
Reps: 110
I must say, I agree with the parents on this one. At the center I work at, we don't do holidays for this very reason. We have a very diverse center and it's not really appropriate if you think about it. Think about Christmas and the things you associate it, Santa, Christmas trees, Elves, Rudolph, etc... that's not what Christmas is even about. I would say not to do anything about Christmas or the holidays unless you are going to do a Christmas around the World type thing and discuss EVERY single holiday.
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udydyV
udydyV
Reps: 108
So are we to stop all celebrations out of the fear of offending someone. Why not have the parents come in and talk about their religion to the class. There is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. pretty soon, nothing will be allowed out of the caution that doing something might offend someone.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 4:59 pm

PyveDu
PyveDu
Reps: 101
I agree with not speaking about one holiday if that is all you would speak about. It is really neat to cover all holidays that are celebrated among the classroom and even if no one celebrates it to learn bits and pieces to it. One year I did not have one child in my class who was Jewish, but the class still read books and learned songs and games to promote the different holidays that are celebrated around the world. To promote a culturally aware and acceptable classroom, students need to be surrounded by the information to gain knowledge of our similarities and differences.
  Posted on: October 19, 2014 2:55 pm

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
Reps: 107
While I appreciate and respect your view on the issue, I think eliminating all signs of holidays is not the solution to the problem expressed in the case above. Disregarding everyone’s beliefs will cause more issues to arise when individuals are not able to express their ideas. I think the teacher should try to inform students about various religious celebrations to help raise awareness about the diversity of the people living in this world. Students could make comparisons about how culture is appreciated by different kinds of people. Individuals have the right to associate Santa, Elves, and Rudolph with Christmas…if they choose to do so. Our country was founded on the religious freedom that should be practiced for years to come. It is possible to enjoy Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Al-Hijra, Deepawali and many more in schools across this country.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 11:18 pm

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Solution 13
Posted December 6, 2012 2:25 pm

Jessica Oglesby
Jessica Oglesby
Reps: 110
I totally understand where you are coming from and I don't think you are wrong. I too decorate for Christmas and include some holiday aspects into my lesson plans. I do ask my students if it would offend any of them before I begin decorating or playing Christmas music in the classroom. I do teach "Christmas Around the World" as well, and we talk about holiday traditions that other cultures share.
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Emily West
Emily West
Reps: 102
i think it is important to teach students about other holidays, cultures, and religions. You could still bring in Christmas decorations and even have the students bring in things that represent their various cultures and religions. This way the students could learn about a variety of different cultures from around the world.
  Posted on: October 21, 2013 3:28 pm

Jessica Briley
Jessica Briley
Reps: 109
I love this idea! Teaching "Christmas around the world" is a great concept. This can get the students involved in learning about other holidays that are celebrated. Also, this will allow students to bring up and discuss their own holidays. They will love bringing in items to talk about and share.
  Posted on: October 30, 2013 2:59 pm

TuVuze
TuVuze
Reps: 99
It is a good that you ask your students if they would be offended by you playing the Christmas music. In the case however, the parents were the ones being offended. It may be a good idea to ask the student’s parents as well if they mind whether or not their children learn about Christmas and listen to the music during the holidays. This way, parents will not feel as if you are trying to push the Christmas holiday on their children if they object to this particular holiday.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 3:37 pm

Meredith Bryant
Meredith Bryant
Reps: 106
I love your idea--celebrating Christmas around the world not only incorporates all of your children's culture, but allows them the opportunity to learn about others as well. It pays tributes to cultures of all types, while still allowing your students who are the most familiar with American Christmases to celebrate them as well.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 5:12 pm

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Solution 14
Posted December 7, 2012 9:00 pm

Art Buff
Art Buff
Reps: 111
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a Christmas Tree in your classroom. Maybe not put books out but it is not that big of a deal. It is important to be respectful of other's religions and views but do not confuse this for meaning you must go out of your way not to offend them. These parents are now living in America where the culture is in many ways different from theirs in their home country. I would not want to force feed my culture, religion and views down a newly immigrated family's throat but they cannot expect me to change my class decorum for two students. The fact that the father cannot seem to get his daughter interested in his religion is a battle of media, culture and a desire to fit in(not classroom decorum). It may help him to introduce other holidays similar to Christmas in other cultures and religions, but this is as far as you should go. Be courteous to others but remember you are the host culture.
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Tracy C
Tracy C
Reps: 104
Art, some good points raised. To add to what you have shared, I would certainly recommend that the parent and teacher work together to assist the child in first identifying with her own culture before been acculturated to another. In doing so, the teacher can engage the student in one-on-one dialogues to assess where the child is at regarding her attitude towards her home culture; such information can then be used to formulate a plan (with parent support if necessary) for a cultural intervention.
  Posted on: October 29, 2013 8:33 am

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Solution 15
Posted December 8, 2012 4:02 pm

Ariane Anderson
Ariane Anderson
Reps: 114
The parents are concerned about what their child is learning. If you have a diverse classroom you should be open to all religions. Instead of putting all Christmas decorations in the classroom, you could have asked the students what they celebrate in the month of December or did some research on their religious holidays. Afterwards make the classroom decorations accommodating to all religions. Also, inform your students of other religions and their practices.
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Emily West
Emily West
Reps: 102
I think it is a great idea to decorate the classroom with other things form various cultures and religions while also keeping some Christmas decorations.
  Posted on: October 21, 2013 3:29 pm

yZaveh
yZaveh
Reps: 109
It might be easier to do this if you get in contact with the parents- ask them what they'd like to see represented in your classroom. If the parents are worried that their children know more about Christmas than their culture's holidays, the students may not be able to be very helpful.
  Posted on: October 30, 2013 4:37 pm

Jordyn Nail
Jordyn Nail
Reps: 108
I agree with all statements. This is a very delicate situation and it would be best to get the parents' input.
  Posted on: November 1, 2013 1:11 pm

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Solution 16
Posted December 8, 2012 9:23 pm

John Buxton
John Buxton
Reps: 114
It is a parents responsibility to raise a child in the way they feel the child should go, not the teachers. However, its also the teachers right to celebrate Holidays that they believe in. These parents should ask the President of the United States why schools shut down for two weeks at Christmas if they have a problem with the holiday. Respect for other religions is necessary thing for a teacher to consider, but there is nothing wrong with having a Christmas tree in the room. The parent's accusations against you are completely uncalled for. You are not forcing any type of region or belief on the child, therefor you are not wrong. I would give my deepest apologies to the parents for any inconvenience I may have caused them, but the Christmas tree would remain standing.
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yZaveh
yZaveh
Reps: 109
I agree that the Christmas tree should remain standing, but I don't think that was necessarily the argument the parents had. I think they might have just wanted to see some of their culture represented. Perhaps the teacher could get in contact with the parents of all of their students and ask what cultural representations they could would want incorporated into the classroom.
  Posted on: October 30, 2013 4:39 pm

Qureby
Qureby
Reps: 102
While I agree that the tree and other decorations should remain, I have to disagree with your reasoning. It is quite obvious that there are students in this classroom who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds. To essentially say that "this is the US and we celebrate Christmas, deal with it" is incredibly insensitive. I agree that the teacher should apologize to the parents for not being inclusive and then should have the students learn about other holiday celebrations around the world and add decorations to the classroom representing the different cultures and religions they have learned about.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 7:15 pm

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Solution 17
Posted December 9, 2012 10:16 pm

Linda Swinson
Linda Swinson
Reps: 107
Well I know that at most schools they don't even decorate anylonger I asume it is to avoid such issues. I guess as far as the decoration you could limited them, and if you plan an activity send a letter home to parents letting them have the opportunity to have their child involve or having them excused. I like Christmas decoration !!!
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Stormye Brantley
Stormye Brantley
Reps: 121
Although I like Christmas decorations too, I think it is important to realize their are other cultures and religions out there. Certainly it may be upsetting to others who do not celebrate Christmas, so they should learn about many other cultures and religions. This could be done for many other months, not just December.
  Posted on: October 24, 2013 7:52 pm

Hope Crosby
Hope Crosby
Reps: 122
I like your idea of sending a letter home to parents as a 'heads-up' as to what will be taking place over the holiday season and then giving them an option as to whether or not their child participates.
  Posted on: October 27, 2013 5:15 pm

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Solution 18
Posted February 1, 2013 3:37 pm

Debbie Lee Gaskin
Debbie Lee Gaskin
Reps: 48
My family is very diverse with Hispanic, African- American, Hebrew, Iranian, Catholic,Jewish, and other ethnic, racial and religions represented. We teach our children about all religions and their customs and beliefs. We value and honor our diversity.
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Emily West
Emily West
Reps: 102
It is great to allow students the opportunities to learn from each other. They could learn all about various cultures and religions.
  Posted on: October 21, 2013 3:26 pm

Stormye Brantley
Stormye Brantley
Reps: 121
I think learning about one's heritage is a great idea and is very important! All students could benefit from this opportunity!
  Posted on: October 24, 2013 7:54 pm

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Solution 19
Posted October 21, 2013 3:23 pm

Emily West
Emily West
Reps: 102
I do not think it is wrong to bring in various christmas decorations into your classroom around the holidays, but you must be prepared to have students from different cultures question the items. it is great that you have a classroom full of different cultures and religions and i think this is a good opportunity for you and the students to learn about the various cultures and religions. You could ask the students form different religions to bring in various items that represent their cultures and holidays. They could share them with the class and it would be a great learning opportunity for all. It is important to celebrate the diversity in your class and i think the parents and students would appreciate the opportunity to share about their own cultures.
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BazuTy
BazuTy
Reps: 116
It could be, but what about the student that's beliefs consider Christmas a pigeon holiday. I suggest that we just have seasonal parties, because we have to understand that the church and state are separate. I know this off subject but I remember in physical science studying about Charles Darwin and the theory about evolution and some of the students and their parents protesting the unit. As a educators we always need backup assignments, tests and etc.
  Posted on: October 31, 2013 7:57 am

yJaGus
yJaGus
Reps: 106
I think that is an awesome idea to let the students bring stuff in that represents their culture to celebrate Christmas and have the students explain it.
  Posted on: November 2, 2013 6:38 pm

upyNuX
upyNuX
Reps: 100
Inviting all students to share about their beliefs and celebrations and help decorate for them is a great idea! I think it will help students feel more at ease in your classroom and will definitely help prevent parents from accusing you of indoctrinating their children.
  Posted on: November 2, 2013 8:08 pm

Qureby
Qureby
Reps: 102
I like your suggestion of having the students bring in items that represent their culture or religion. This would be a great opportunity for all of the students to learn about different traditions all while making sure all students feel included in the celebrations.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 7:18 pm

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Solution 20
Posted October 24, 2013 7:49 pm

Stormye Brantley
Stormye Brantley
Reps: 121
I think the Christmas holidays may be a difficult time for anyone who is not a Christian or celebrates Christmas. They are constantly inundated with trees, Santa, reindeer, etc. I can see where children may recognize more about Christmas than that of their own religion. Technically, the parents were right. They may have said it in a surprising way that upset the teacher, but sometimes the truth can hurt! I think the best way to solve this problem is to learn about many other holidays. One day they could learn about Christmas, another day Hannukkah, etc. Since the teacher had students from India and Jordan descent, perhaps their families would even be willing to come in and share a little more about their cultures and beliefs with the class. The teacher should see this as a "teachable moment" and embrace the diversity in the class.
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Tracy C
Tracy C
Reps: 104
I think the teacher was one who did embrace the cultural diversity of her classmates to some degree; her diverse group of students were happy and getting along. Additionally, I do not think it is fear for the teacher to embrace the culture of all of her students and not share or celebrate her culture with her students. In my opinion, the teacher's only mistake was not fostering a stronger cultural connection between the students' home and school culture. According to Igoa (1995), one way this could have been done was by the teacher validating each student's culture by inviting their parents to play an active role in the learning environment.

Reference:

Igoa, C. (1995). The inner world of the immigrant child. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,

Inc.
  Posted on: October 29, 2013 8:27 am

Jessica Briley
Jessica Briley
Reps: 109
I like this idea of asking the parents to please participate in the classroom by telling the students about their own religious holidays. I think this will make the parents happy that the teacher can see where she made a slight mistake. I think this is a great opportunity for the teacher to learn from a very honest mistake.
  Posted on: October 30, 2013 2:58 pm

PyveDu
PyveDu
Reps: 101
I currently teach at a school with high parent involvement. I have a parent each day come in to help with literacy stations and two parents come in on Fridays. One to direct a craft with the class and one to read books to the class. This is a GREAT idea to have the parents come in to explain their holidays they celebrate and different cultures around the world. Students really seem engaged when it is someone else other than us, the teacher, providing information on a topic. Therefore, I think it is an awesome idea to have the parents involved in the classroom about the holidays.
  Posted on: October 19, 2014 2:59 pm

Chelsea Abbott
Chelsea Abbott
Reps: 112
I think that parent involvement would be great at this time of year. I have had parents bring in food from their culture before for our Winter Party. The parents loved being involved and celebrating with their child. Christianity is not the only religion in the world, therefore, other holidays need to be focused on too. As a teacher, it is important that you know the backgrounds of all your students. Students need to feel involved!
  Posted on: October 23, 2015 2:30 pm

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Solution 21
Posted October 27, 2013 9:48 am

A Battles
A Battles
Reps: 115
I would keep the Christmas decorations up because it is a pretty normal event in America. (Santa Claus and Rudolph hardly represent Christianity.) But if you had Jewish kids it would be appropriate to do some Hanukkah decorations. This would be a great opportunity for other children to tell what their culture celebrates around this time of year and allow them to bring items in associated with their holiday. Even letting them decorate a portion of the room. It could be cool to have a room decorated with stuff from all over the world. I would try to keep the actual religion talk out of it just because of the separation of church and state it could be an iffy area but I do not think that decorations and children explaining their cultures would infringe on this.
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BeWuXe
BeWuXe
Reps: 117
I also feel displaying a Christmas tree in the classroom is simply a decoration to mark a holiday season and not an effort to "push" a religious belief on students. I have never thought of the fact that schools are closed during the holiday season, although often marked as "Winter Break". Do these parents object when schools decorate the hallways with Easter bunnies and hold Easter egg hunts in the Spring? Regardless of religious affiliations, all parents must teach their children the importance in understanding the diversity of cultures represented in a school and to be accepting of these differences.
  Posted on: October 27, 2013 6:09 pm

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Solution 22
Posted October 27, 2013 1:18 pm

BazuTy
BazuTy
Reps: 116
Yes, I agree with the students’ parents because religious celebrations are not prohibited in a school setting. I think to implement cultural celebration the teacher should have seasonal celebrations.
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Solution 23
Posted October 27, 2013 5:06 pm

Hope Crosby
Hope Crosby
Reps: 122
I do not feel that these parents are ‘right’; however, I do feel that they have the right to their own opinion. I would explain that a Christmas tree has no religious meaning (there is not speaking of a Christmas tree in Bible or any relation of it to Christianity) and is merely a cultural symbol of Christmas and the holiday symbol. Let’s face it, we see them everywhere: Wal-Mart, the mall, book stores, outside of government buildings, etc. I would explain that I do not speak of any religious associations with the holiday, and only show non-religious based movies (i.e. Rudolph, Santa Clause is coming to Town, etc.). I would then explain to the parents that if they would rather I not show the cartoons I won’t, or I can make arrangements for their child to participate in other activities as we watch these.
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BeWuXe
BeWuXe
Reps: 117
Your comments concerning Christmas trees not being religious based are right on point. Christmas decorations, including trees, simply support the commercial side of the holiday season. Do these parents boycott shopping during the holiday season simply because of the time of year or because Christmas decorations are displayed retail stores? If a display of a manger and baby Jesus is present in the classroom, then the parents concerns can be validated.
  Posted on: October 27, 2013 6:00 pm

TeTugu
TeTugu
Reps: 21
I agree that your argument is valid. Displaying a Christmas tree and showing films about Rudolph have not affiliation with Christianity. In some cases, I have heard some Christians being opposed to Santa Claus because it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas in their eyes. You are correct in that it is solely commercially based.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 12:59 pm

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Solution 24
Posted October 27, 2013 6:48 pm

BeWuXe
BeWuXe
Reps: 117
As stated in many other posts, I agree it is not inappropriate to place a Christmas tree in the classroom. Although Christmas is a Christian celebration, society has given this holiday a whole other meaning with the commercialization of shopping and gift giving. The presence of the tree or the playing of holiday movies, such as Rudolph, is not an attempt to "push" a religious belief on anyone. The parent must understand the presence of a Christmas tree is a part of the American culture. If an American was to migrate to a country where Islam is the primary religion, the American should not be offended when Muslims stop everything to participate in their daily prayers. Although I sympathize with the father's struggle to teach his religion to his daughter,I do not feel the placement of the Christmas tree in the classroom is the cause for his frustration. Regardless of religious beliefs, it is impossible to be in isolation from the celebration of Christmas in American society.
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Solution 25
Posted October 27, 2013 7:12 pm

udydyV
udydyV
Reps: 108
I think being culturally sensitive is very important, however, it is possible to be sensitive to a fault. To deny your religious beliefs out of fear of offending someone is (in my opinion) is being culturally sensitive to a fault. I would tell the parents that I am not trying to indoctrinate their children into any form of religion. I would tell them that I was expressing my beliefs. If the parents felt so strongly about it, I would ask them to address the class and tell the students about their beliefs. I would give all parents equal time so that no one could say I gave more time to this person or that person.
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Solution 26
Posted October 29, 2013 8:36 pm

Jordyn Nail
Jordyn Nail
Reps: 108
They were right. If you are going to represent one religion you should make an effort to represent them all. This reminds me of last Christmas when I decorated the tutoring center at my workplace. We used Kwanzaa, Christmas, and Hanuka decorations in an attempt to be diverse.
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Qybuse
Qybuse
Reps: 118
I think it's great that you decorated your center with many different holidays. I think it's also a good idea to try to target your decorations or activities to your audience--maybe take a survey of student's religious practices to see if there are other decorations you could add to your repertoire. Or, maybe try to highlight a new decoration or symbol to teach about a holiday that is less well-known.
  Posted on: November 2, 2015 1:48 am

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Solution 27
Posted October 30, 2013 2:56 pm

Jessica Briley
Jessica Briley
Reps: 109
I think this is a very honest mistake. I feel as though a lot of people assume that people in America celebrate Christmas in the religious aspect or if not religious than the commercial aspect. Who doesn't want gifts from Santa, right? :) Anyways, I think it would be a great idea to have students right down what they celebrate during the month of December in their house. With this information you could decorate different spaces in the room with what they would use. This could even be devoted to class time and students will have a lot of fun helping with the decorations. Also, this is a great learning opportunity for all students to learn about different holidays.
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Solution 28
Posted November 2, 2013 6:34 pm

yJaGus
yJaGus
Reps: 106
As a teacher who has had two students that did not celebrate holidays, it is very difficult to not hurt the parents feelings. However, parents can't expect teachers to celebrate every holiday of every child's culture. That is not even fathomable. If you as a teacher are forcing the holiday on their student then sure they have every right to become angry. However, if you are just decorating and bringing in a little holiday cheer from the American culture then I think you should continue what you are doing. I explained to my parents what I did and they said as long as their child did not directly participate in it then they were fine with the activities I did.
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A Battles
A Battles
Reps: 115
Exactly, I feel nothing is being "forced" on the child in this situation.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 3:05 pm

udydyV
udydyV
Reps: 108
I completely agree with your post. I should not have to abandon my religion just to respect yours.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 5:44 pm

jaMyDu
jaMyDu
Reps: 119
I agree with you. It would be impossible to celebrate every religious holiday. This was not a religious celebration of Christmas to me, but more of a symbolic representation of Christmas and the symbols used in America. I also agree that talking to the students parents is the best way to keep an open line of communication to prevent feelings from being hurt.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 6:31 pm

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Solution 29
Posted November 2, 2013 8:05 pm

upyNuX
upyNuX
Reps: 100
I do think this is a difficult situation. On the one hand, I think the parent is going overboard to accuse you of indoctrination. From what you have said, you have not mentioned Jesus or God at all. Christmas is a huge part of the American culture (including being celebrated by many atheists) and now that they are living in America they need to realize that their children are going to be exposed to it. Even if you don't have a tree, books, and movies about Christmas in the classroom, the kids are going to talk about Christmas nonstop in the month of December so there isn't a way to totally avoid it.

But at the same time, I want my class to be a safe place for students to be open about who they are and what they believe and celebrate. By exclusively having Christmas decorations and books all around the room and watching Christmas movies, some students with other beliefs may feel intimidated (even though I KNOW that is not your intent). It can draw their attention to exactly how different they are and make them feel like they don't belong.

Being a high school teacher, we don't celebrate holidays as much as at younger ages. Add to that the fact that I teach online. There isn't much holiday discussion at all with my students, but on the rare occasions that it does come up I at least make it clear that I know not everyone celebrates the holiday.

Since your classroom is so diverse, I think it would mean a lot to your students for you to take time to acknowledge their cultures and beliefs. Maybe at the beginning of each school year have students write about their favorite holiday to celebrate with their family. Make a list of them and learn a little about them and at the appropriate times throughout the year take time to acknowledge those holidays. I think this would go a long way toward helping your students feel like they are welcome in your classroom.
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Jill Elton
Jill Elton
Reps: 108
I agree that this is a very difficult and touchy subject. In this case, I assume that the "politically correct" thing to do would be to have all students at least share their traditions with the class. As the teacher, you can also share your traditions. This would help the students feel as though they all belong, regardless of their differences.
  Posted on: October 25, 2015 5:32 am

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Solution 30
Posted November 3, 2013 3:25 pm

TuVuze
TuVuze
Reps: 99
Since you stated that you do not decorate your classroom for special days of other religions, the parents may have a point. Even though Christmas is not viewed as a religious holiday by some people and is viewed as more of an American cultural tradition, the fact remains that Christmas festivities are usually tied in with the Christian religion. Instead of having a Christmas themed classroom during this time of year, you could have a winter theme instead. This would provide neutral ground for celebrating the joys of the winter season. Likewise you could also have fall, spring, or summer themes in your classroom to celebrate other occasions.
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jaMyDu
jaMyDu
Reps: 119
I like the idea of using a winter theme if there are parents that feel like Christmas is a religious holiday. I don't feel like the symbols used in the case were religious, but the winter theme would keep people from being upset about the celebration of Christmas.
  Posted on: November 3, 2013 6:34 pm

egyveW
egyveW
Reps: 103
I like the idea of using winter as a theme if the teacher is concerned about offending any student or any parents.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 1:45 am

yXeBeX
yXeBeX
Reps: 114
A winter themed classroom would definitely be more appropriate and sensitive to all students from different cultures and different religious backgrounds. Maybe you could then incorporate assignment into the classroom where students can create a project on their holiday traditions. This way you are not focusing one just one and students have a chance to learn about different traditions other than their own.
  Posted on: October 25, 2014 2:23 pm

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Solution 31
Posted November 3, 2013 5:09 pm

Meredith Bryant
Meredith Bryant
Reps: 106
I don't think it is wrong, so long as you also gain insight tho other student's cultures at the beginning of the year and learn when to celebrate those too. It is difficult in the culture we live in--so many celebrate Christmas because of the Santa Clause factor and not because of the "real" reason that others, like myself do. Schools are notorious for having Christmas programs, or Christmas parties without realizing that there are few students out there who may either not celebrate Christmas at all, but also have their own holidays they wish to partake in. My advice is just be prepared from the beginning of the year and maybe also throw it out there for the parents--send out a survey. Maybe ask: "Would you be opposed to having a class-wide Christmas party?" That way, you can feel out the parents in the beginning and better judge your own actions.
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Solution 32
Posted November 3, 2013 6:28 pm

jaMyDu
jaMyDu
Reps: 119
I don't think that you were intentionally trying to push Christianity on the students with the items mentioned in the case. I would explain to the parents that you were using the most recognized symbols of Christmas in America by using the tree, Santa and Rudolph. Those are not necessarily religious symbols, they are merely representations of this festive time of the year in America. However, there are a few things that you may want to consider in this situation. First, you could include books in your library about Hanukkah, Kwanza, and any other cultural celebration(s) that your students are a part of throughout the year. You may also want to have an area in the classroom that is devoted to recognizing religious holidays that your students celebrate throughout the school year. I think that if you have children from various cultures that you should take the time to understand their cultural traditions and make time during the school year to recognize and celebrate them. It will make all students in your classroom feel like their culture and traditions are valued.
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zuPeQy
zuPeQy
Reps: 99
I like how you mentioned that the tree, Santa, and Rudolph are not religions symbols because that is so true. They are some of the most common symbols in America when it comes to he holidays. There are plenty of people who put up Christmas trees that are not Christians. However, the families could have been offended because their culture does not celebrate Christmas at all, in any form. I feel like the teacher needs to have a unit on the different ways that cultures celebrate and recognize the holidays.
  Posted on: October 22, 2014 10:22 pm

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Solution 33
Posted October 21, 2014 8:07 pm

SaSyXu
SaSyXu
Reps: 105
If the parents are concerned about this, I think you could let students who have different beliefs than you do bring in some of their own religious relics to display in the classroom as well. You could spend time letting the kids talk about ways that they celebrate and make it a mini-culture unit.
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Jordan Nelms
Jordan Nelms
Reps: 104
Allowing students to share their cultures' traditions and activities with the class is a great idea! This will allow the student to not feel left out or like they are alone in the classroom. Good point!
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 3:56 am

Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson
Reps: 97
I agree with this. It may not be a bad idea to let the other students bring their own aspects of their religious holidays into the classroom for Show and Tell.
  Posted on: November 3, 2014 2:38 am

Amanda Whittaker
Amanda Whittaker
Reps: 114
Having students explain what they do for the holiday season is a great idea. All the students can learn about other cultures and how they are similar or different to their own cultures. This should solve the problem with people saying that you are only looking at one religion. I would even have each student pick a country from around the world and research their holiday customs and let the students present it to the class.
  Posted on: October 27, 2015 4:27 pm

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Solution 34
Posted October 22, 2014 7:01 pm

aHeRaL
aHeRaL
Reps: 112
My first suggestion would be to discuss with the parents that a Christmas tree and Santa Claus are not religious symbols, but rather, American cultural symbols of the Christmas holiday season. Christmas in the United States has a religious as well as cultural context, and I would apologize for any confusion there might be in regards to the perceived overlap. I do not think I would address the father's concern over his daughter not picking up on his traditional religious holidays, as that may just add more fuel to the fire. I might instead try to steer the conversation in a direction of how we could possibly avoid future conflicts or misunderstandings within the classroom.
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Solution 35
Posted October 22, 2014 10:17 pm

zuPeQy
zuPeQy
Reps: 99
I think it would be more appropriate to have all the cultures of the students represented in the classroom or none at all. It is the whole idea of keeping religion out of the classroom. I know that sharing "Christianity" to the students was not the intention and there are plenty of people who are not Christians that still put up Christmas trees but I can understand why it would potentially offend some parents, especially if other cultures were not represented. There are also many cultures that do not do the whole Santa Clause thing so it could cause students to go home and wonder why their family does not celebrate that. I would try and do a unit on different ways cultures celebrate the holidays. That way the students could gain a more broad understanding of different cultural traditions. You could also give the students an opportunity to discuss what their families do.
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Solution 36
Posted October 25, 2014 12:59 am

egyveW
egyveW
Reps: 103
This is murky territory as there is a fine line between offensive and festive when pertaining to holidays and traditions inside the school's walls. I do love the idea of bringing everyone's backgrounds to the classroom decorations by doing something like a Christmas around the world. However, I disagree with the idea that the parents were right to make the suggestion that the teacher was trying to indoctrinate the students to Christianity. The reason for this disagreement stems from the fact that although the word Christmas contains the word Christ, it does not make the tree, Rudolph or Santa religious symbols or symbols of Christianity as they are not. I think that this is a semantics issue and not a religious issue. Unless the teacher displayed actual religious symbols such as the Nativity scene, a cross or angels, I do not believe the teacher was wrong in any way. I have seen several people who are not Christians celebrate "Christmas." They do not change the terminology, but they do not exercise the holiday as a religious practice either. I understand that some students celebrate no holidays in any form, but I don't think that banning all holidays or festivities is beneficial to anyone. How can students be taught tolerance, understanding and deeper meanings of historical events if educators are forced to hide certain aspects of learning? My solution to this problem is to explain the misunderstanding and invite the parents or their student to explain or bring an item for show and tell for what they enjoy celebrating during the month of December. A welcoming environment is a must for situations like this.
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Solution 37
Posted October 25, 2014 2:12 pm

yXeBeX
yXeBeX
Reps: 114
Unfortunately I have to agree with the parents point of view. Teachers are in a very special group in that we must be held to a different standard with regards to religion and cannot appear to be supporting any one of them. especially in public school, there should not be any favoritism to any one religious holiday or belief due to the fact that they cater to many different cultures and religious beliefs. It is not appropriate for a teacher to simply pick one unless all are represented.
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Qybuse
Qybuse
Reps: 118
You're exactly right. However, we are teachers and should always be willing to promote teachable moments. Educating students about other holidays should be a welcome addition to our holiday lesson plans!
  Posted on: November 2, 2015 1:52 am

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Solution 38
Posted October 25, 2014 4:53 pm

aQazuV
aQazuV
Reps: 105
I do not think you should be upset because it was not your intention to push a certain religion on your students. However, knowing that you had a diverse group of students who all come from different religions, I do not believe you should have decorated for Christmas. I think that it is very important to get to know your students at the beginning of the year so that you can respect the wishes of your parents when it comes to celebrating the holidays. At my school, we have "holiday" parties rather than "Christmas" parties so that if a student does celebrate something other than Christmas, they may still participate. Personally, I have never experienced this situation because coming from a small community, my students have always all celebrated Christmas. However, my school does make accommodations for those students who do not celebrate holidays. I think that coming from such a diverse classroom you should incorporate multiple cultures in your classroom to accommodate for all students and educate others on different beliefs.
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BazaNu
BazaNu
Reps: 89
How does your school handle holiday parties? Are characters like Santa Claus allowed or just winter themed items?
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 4:37 pm

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Solution 39
Posted October 26, 2014 6:00 pm

NyVyTy
NyVyTy
Reps: 90
I can see how the parents could've gotten slightly offended. I would firstly apologize to them. I would then explain to the that my intentions were not to thrust my religion upon their children. However, they have to understand that Christmas is a holiday that is widely celebrated in the US, and it is a time of year that children enjoy because of the lights, decor, and activities that come with it. I would then go back and put up a Christmas tree that includes something from each culture that is included within the classroom, this way no one feels left out.
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Jordan Nelms
Jordan Nelms
Reps: 104
Good idea to tell the parents that Christmas is a holiday that is widely celebrated throughout the United States! And yes, I would definitely apologize and reassure them that I wasn't trying to force my religious beliefs on their child.
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 3:49 am

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Solution 40
Posted October 27, 2014 2:43 am

aheduX
aheduX
Reps: 112
I understand where the parents are coming from. At my school, we are told to call it Winter Holidays although many of us talk about Santa and the extras that go along with Christmas. I teach at a small town school so this is not a big issue for us. But if I were to encounter something like this, I would allow the students to discuss and bring as many items from home to demonstrate how they celebrate Winter Holidays. We would even decorate the classroom in the different cultures of the students. This could create learning opportunities of how people celebrate differently. I would read different books of cultures to explain how not every one celebrates Winter Holidays the same. This would make it fair for everyone.
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Solution 41
Posted October 27, 2014 3:48 am

Jordan Nelms
Jordan Nelms
Reps: 104
This is such a touchy subject to me! I always decorate my classroom with a Christmas tree and give my students Christmas gifts and have never had a parent complain. However, if a parent brought this to my attention, I would apologize for making them feel as if I were trying to indoctrinate anything into their child and reassure them that it was not my intentions. Then I would probably ask them if they didn't want their child to participate in activities that I had planned and I would try to find alternative activities for their child.
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Solution 42
Posted October 27, 2014 4:00 am

Kim Lucas
Kim Lucas
Reps: 107
I do not agree that you should not have a Christmas tree in your classroom. I don't think that you forced your students to recite passages from the Bible or any other religious ceremony or belief system. Here in America, the Christmas tree is EVERYWHERE from Walmart to town squares. I taught a Christmas Around The World theme throughout the month of December, where we talked about all different cultures and beliefs, and my Kindergarten and First Grade students loved it. I think that welcoming other discussions about traditions and cultural celebrations is a good way to incorporate all the students into the lessons.
I think that these parents were a bit out of line in telling you that you were trying to sway their child to christianity. I would apologize to any misunderstandings andI would have a discussion that maybe gently tells them how you are trying to teach all different cultural beliefs. This gets very sensitive, but I would in no way let someone make you feel as though your beliefs are less than anyone else's. Maybe encouraging them to explain their cultural beliefs to you and possibly the class, without trying to sway anyone to their beliefs, would benefit everyone!
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BazaNu
BazaNu
Reps: 89
I don't think these parents were trying to say that Christianity is less than or beneath another religion. I believe they were concerned that the teacher was trying to force her own beliefs on the students, which is inappropriate. Although I like your idea of Christmas Around the World studies, perhaps it would be best to limit classroom decor to simply winter theme and then no one can feel left out.
  Posted on: October 27, 2014 4:31 pm

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Solution 43
Posted October 27, 2014 4:28 pm

BazaNu
BazaNu
Reps: 89
Unless the teacher was studying the Bible with her students, I don't think this is religious indoctrination. However, it is a narrow view of the "holiday season" from the perspective of a non-Christian. Someone has suggested a "Christmas Around the World" lesson which I think would be interesting. I'm sure the children would be fascinated to learn how those from other cultures celebrate. I would apologize to the parents for the misunderstanding and encourage them to bring small items that represent how they spend the winter holidays.
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Solution 44
Posted October 28, 2014 1:32 am

Myzusy
Myzusy
Reps: 113
Having "Christmas" celebrations in the classroom can be a very controversial decision. However, since you pointed out that you have a very culturally and religiously diverse classroom I would embrace diversity. I would advise planning a Holiday Around the World celebration in which children could learn about a variety of holidays from other countries. I would focus on the countries and holidays that students were from such as Jordan and India. Prior to planning the activities I would notify parents that students would be learning about how various countries and religions from those countries celebrate holidays. I would ask the students to write about and share with the class holiday traditions that are important to their specific countries of origin. I would also invite parents to share decorations with the class and to come to speak to the class about the holidays as well. Getting parents involved would make them feel more comfortable and as though their traditions are being upheld in school. As a culminating activity I would ask the students to write about how all of their cultural/religious traditions can still be celebrated in the U.S.A. Since we are a nation that honors and upholds freedom of religion and equality it would teach children valuable lessons on cultural diversity, national unity and personal friendship.
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Kayla Mullins
Kayla Mullins
Reps: 89
I also feel that it would be ok to display Christmas decorations but it is critical to incorporate other cultures from around the world. This would all other religious views to be taught and provide a learning oppertunity for the other students.
-Kayla Mullins
  Posted on: October 29, 2014 8:38 pm

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Solution 45
Posted November 3, 2014 2:30 am

Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson
Reps: 97
First, I am a little thrown at the Christmas Tree comment. A Christmas Tree is simply a symbol of Christmas and is not associated with Christianity the religion. I would most likely make that point clear. Much like rudolph represents Christmas, it does not reflect the religion of Christianity.

I would be honest with the parents and stress that in no way have you taught religion in your classroom--you just wanted to bring part of the American culture into your American classroom. Perhaps you may suggest that you can do an "Around the World" holiday project where students explore other holidays celebrated in other countries.
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Solution 46
Posted October 29, 2014 4:14 pm

ezasyp
ezasyp
Reps: 107
Unfortunately, I do think the parents are right. I would never bring personal viewpoints, religious views, etc into the classroom. Even if you think that all of your students celebrate a certain holiday, you never truly know. Even then I think it is best to be left at home. In this situation I would take the decorations down immediately and apologize. I would then have a holiday around the world week where you take the kids on a journey around the world to see how different cultures celebrate different holidays. You could even have your students share their personal experiences about their holidays! This could solve the problem for now. In future years you could then decide whether or not you will do a holiday around the world or just leave the topic alone. I know it becomes tricky with all of the "parties" people like to have in elementary school for occasions but it should always be considered that not all students celebrate those occasions.
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Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson
Reps: 97
I would not take the decorations down. A Christmas tree does not represent religion-- it is simply a symbol. A symbol that is utilized frequently throughout the month of December. It is going to be fairly difficult for these parents to shelter their children from cultural symbols in a country in which they live.
  Posted on: November 3, 2014 2:34 am

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Solution 47
Posted October 29, 2014 8:28 pm

Kayla Mullins
Kayla Mullins
Reps: 89
This is a hard subject for many educators. It is hard to remove yourself from your own personal beliefs espically if your beliefs are the same of the majority. I would suggest that you incoproate Holiday traditions from around the world into your lesson. One easy way to do this is to allow the students to pick a country they find interesting and have them research the way the culture celebrates the holiday season. This will allow you to discuss Christmas traditions as well as the beliefs of the other cultures. YOu could also save one day at the end of the week to invite parents to come enjoy a gathering where the students decorate for their particular culture and provide food that reflects the culture. This will allow the parents to see that you are teaching about other cultures and traditions.
-Kayla Mullins
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Solution 48
Posted October 31, 2014 9:42 pm

April Rozier
April Rozier
Reps: 110
I believe that you should simply apologize to the parents for offending them and explain your intentions were not to indoctrinate the students into Christianity or any other religion. I would encourage the parents to discuss their religious holidays with me and make suggestions on how I could include their culture best in my classroom. I would also give them the opportunity to opt for their children not to participate in any activities centered around Christmas but I would require the students to do another activity in its place. I do not feel that you did anything wrong but due to how it was perceived, an apology and open discussion would be the most effective solution.
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LeHyZa
LeHyZa
Reps: 107
That is a good suggestion to have the parents input on their particular culture's religious celebrations. Giving them the option to have their child opt out of Christian celebrations is also a good idea so there is no doubt in their mind that their child is being influenced against their wishes.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 1:09 am

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
Reps: 107
I agree with your solutions that an apology and open communication is needed to solve the problem. During my first year of teaching, I had a student that did not celebrate Christmas. His parents informed me of their religious beliefs at the beginning of the year. He was able to engage in alternate activities during the day, if we were working on a holiday activity. In order to not make the students feel ostracized during the seasonal socials, the student would leave school early to engage in a family-based function. I think it is important to remember that people have the right to celebrate religious holidays the way they see fit, but other religious celebrations must be welcomed in the classroom.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 11:02 pm

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Solution 49
Posted November 2, 2014 12:54 am

LeHyZa
LeHyZa
Reps: 107
Religion is almost always tied to culture (Hart, 1993). A true religious attitude may become a vehicle for the individual's development (Henderson, 1984). For this reason the parents felt the Christmas decorations would sway their child's religious attitude and perhaps alter their ties to their culture. It would be best to either incorporate no religious aspects in your classroom or have each child's religious holiday's represented. I would have a class lesson and activity as soon as possible that addressed the special days of all the students culture and religion. I would also decorate for those days as well. I would write the offended parents once more explaining how you are correcting the situation and that once again it was an honest over sight.
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Solution 50
Posted November 2, 2014 7:06 pm

Qureby
Qureby
Reps: 102
I do think that the parents were right. By incorporating Christmas decorations and activities into the classroom it appears as though you support only Christianity. If I were in this situation I would incorporate holiday traditions from different cultures and religions into my classroom. This way students would be exposed to many different cultures and traditions and as the authority figure in the classroom I would not be seen as promoting one religion above others. Also, I think the students would enjoy learning about different cultures and religions and their holiday traditions, it could be a fun activity for students.
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GyJeWy
GyJeWy
Reps: 105
I agree. It allows students to learn more and broaden their knowledge about religion and culture.
  Posted on: November 2, 2014 10:12 pm

Edward Kim
Edward Kim
Reps: 106
What does a Christmas tree and a claymation Rudolph TV special have to do with Christianity? I think I may have missed those bible stories. I agree that the different voices and opinions should be heard but not necessarily because of Rudolph. I think this should first be explained to parents and but then you must also show that you are willing to learn about different cultures and to be open to their concerns. Letting your students show off and teach the class their holiday customs do both of those things.
  Posted on: October 23, 2015 7:10 pm

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Solution 51
Posted November 2, 2014 10:11 pm

GyJeWy
GyJeWy
Reps: 105
The parents may have felt like their religions weren't important because the only one portrayed inte classroom was Christianity. You should decorate your classroom for other religious holidays as well. This way you are incoporating other religions into your classroom and educating your students as well about the variety of religions and cultures out there.
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Solution 52
Posted November 2, 2014 10:55 pm

Ashley Smith
Ashley Smith
Reps: 107
After reading about your experiences, I immediately thought about the reasons that the country we live in today was founded. As part of your rights of being a citizen of the United States of America, you can practice your religious choices in public places. I think some people forget this fact when discussing the offensive actions of people trying to push beliefs on others. With the statement that you were bringing your observance of the Christmas season into your classroom, I think you do have the right to make this choice. However, I suggest that you help students understand other religious holidays since your class has a diverse number of individuals. Students could research the different religious practices from other countries to help prepare for a celebration of these global beliefs. Another idea may be including parents by asking them to speak about their holiday experiences and ways that they can contribute to the celebration.
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HyraLe
HyraLe
Reps: 73
I like this idea about having parents come to speak about some of the holidays. This would be a great way to incorporate other culture celebrations into the classroom to help students learn especially since this is a room of diverse students.
  Posted on: December 1, 2014 7:16 am

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Solution 53
Posted November 3, 2014 3:50 am

Jonathan Buys
Jonathan Buys
Reps: 42
First I would thoroughly apologize to the parents, and emphasize that I was not trying to convert his daughter. I would also explain the Christmas I brought into the classroom was mostly popular culture and Americana that doesn't have religious affiliations. Still I would wan to open up the Christmas celebration to a multicultural study of winter holidays around the world or just those represented by the student sin my class. I would also keep the focus of the study on holiday activities and traditions not on religious teachings.
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Solution 54
Posted November 3, 2014 4:57 am

HaBuMu
HaBuMu
Reps: 52
I can see validity in the parents concern. I know you meant no harm in putting up the Christmas tree. However, this can be misconstrued to show favoritism to one holiday over the other. The only option I see is to send home a note to get parental consent with each holiday decoration. Otherwise, you would need to represent each religious holiday equally. I do wonder if Santa Clause and Rudolph could be considered religious representations though. They seem more mainstream than Christianity Christmas symbols. Many that believe in these mainstream symbols do not necessarily follow Christian beliefs.
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Solution 55
Posted December 1, 2014 7:09 am

HyraLe
HyraLe
Reps: 73
I know there was no harm intended and you should by all means be able to put up a Christmas tree in your room. I think that a note sent home letting parents know and be aware that you will be incorporating some Christmas themes in your classroom would be sufficient. This way if they do not want their child to see the movie or etc. they can express that to the teacher. I had a student that was a Jehovah's witness in my class one year and when I sent the note home about us making Santa Claus puppets and watching the Santa Claus movie she did not want him to participate and so he went to another classroom during their center time and participated in guided reading groups with them. He returned when we were done. Even though you can speak with these parents and let them know your intentions, a note in the future letting parents know would be a great idea.
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Laura Doolittle
Laura Doolittle
Reps: 109


I agree with your solution. I feel like the note home is a great way to determine parents feelings on Christmas. Once you become aware of their feelings it prevents future conflict in the area.
  Posted on: October 19, 2015 7:46 pm

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Solution 56
Posted October 19, 2015 4:26 pm

Japuje
Japuje
Reps: 107
I do not believe the Christmas represented by this Christmas tree and kids Christmas books involves any kind of religious indoctrination since it doesn't really deal with the actual core Christian beliefs. Christmas trees and Christmas decorations aren't telling kids about Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins just like the Easter bunny doesn't tell them about Jesus rising from the grave. In a sense I can see where the parents are coming from. As a parent and a Christian I would not be happy if my son's teacher celebrated a holiday from another religion in his class and completely ignored Christmas. I would address the issue by either decorating for numerous holidays from different cultures or not decorating at all. This way no one will feel left out and the students can learn about traditions from other cultures.
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Edward Kim
Edward Kim
Reps: 106
I am 100 percent with you. A Christmas tree nor reindeers have anything to do with religion. There was not Christan tree in the manger with Jesus nor did a reindeer fly overhead. Those things have nothing to do with religion. Now if you had a picture of Jesus hanging on a cross in the classroom that would be a different story. However, like you said it is important to make sure that all voices are heard. But it is possible to have both. You can show your both your Christmas spirit and let others show off their holiday spirit as well. I mean isn't that the point of the the holiday season anyways? To show love and acceptance for everyone. The parents aren't wrong but neither are you. Just show that you are open to listening and sharing and that should do the trick.
  Posted on: October 23, 2015 6:57 pm

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Solution 57
Posted October 19, 2015 7:42 pm

Laura Doolittle
Laura Doolittle
Reps: 109
I do understand the concerns of parents. I know that you were not trying to indoctrinate the students into Christianity by showing Christmas videos and decorating your room. I would start by apologizing for offending the parents. I have learned that I do not have Christmas activities because I have had so many students in the past not able to celebrate. Our art teacher also sends home a letter getting permission to make Christmas decorations. It might be a good idea to start off the year asking for permission to let their child work with any Christmas related activities. The decorations in your room should not be a problem. It is your room, and you should be able to decorate it however you like.
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Solution 58
Posted October 20, 2015 11:52 pm

ehyNyn
ehyNyn
Reps: 109
In my opinion, you have two options here. If you have a very diverse classroom, it is important that all the students belong in the classroom. By isolating one religion and celebrating Christmas, some students may feel left out. Therefore, you can stop decorating for Christmas. Or, as a second option, you can begin decorating for all religious holidays within your classroom. You definitely want to keep the parents on your side because they are on your team to help their child. Do not argue or try to push this issue because you could lose your positive relationships with your students if your parents are upset.
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Solution 59
Posted October 23, 2015 6:49 pm

Edward Kim
Edward Kim
Reps: 106
Although the parents do have a right to voice their concerns that does not mean that they are necessarily correct. As humans it is impossible to completely take out our beliefs and feelings into the things that we do, especially in a job as personable and intimate as teaching. We spend hours and hours with the kids everyday and our beliefs and customs will show no matter what. Teachers are not robots so this will happen no matter how hard we try not to. Good teachers connect with their students and that is impossible to do without showing a bit of who you are. However this does not mean it is our place to just slam our beliefs down the kids throat and try to indoctrinate them. All beliefs and customs should be mentioned and honored. So instead you could have different students come in and share their different holiday beliefs and customs. Students could bring in food, books, and decorations. This way you are giving everyone a chance to share and show off their holiday customs.
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Solution 60
Posted October 25, 2015 4:06 am

Jill Elton
Jill Elton
Reps: 108
If I were you, I would decorate for Christmas. To smooth things over,if you felt justified and lead to, I would ask the parents of the children who were "hurt" to discuss their traditions with your class. However, I would make sure that just as you did not discuss that Christmas is celebrated in observance of our Savior Jesus Christ being born into the world, (because it is "politically incorrect" to do so in a public school) that they, too, do not discuss their religion (mention of Allah, Koran, etc.). I would then pray for them and their children at home.
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Solution 61
Posted October 25, 2015 4:28 pm

yWasyD
yWasyD
Reps: 107
I would suggest that you apologize to these parents and tell them that that was not your intention to begin with, and the situation will not repeat itself again and No you are not going to repeat this with the other religions so as not to upset other students and other parents. Thank these parents for expressing their feelings and try and make sure the issue of religion do not come up in your class again.
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Solution 62
Posted October 25, 2015 8:05 pm

uPaSeW
uPaSeW
Reps: 209
On this issue, I would agree with the parents. In my opinion, it is wrong to only focus on one type of religion during the holidays especially when America is so diverse. I would address this issue by having each student bring something from home that represents what they celebrate during the holidays. By doing this, each student is being represented in the classroom.
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Solution 63
Posted October 25, 2015 11:44 pm

Jasmine Bringuel
Jasmine Bringuel
Reps: 102
Religion is a major issue that schools have to deal with. The best way to make this issue dissipate would be to include all religions represented in the classroom, so you will need to teach about all the religious holidays of your students. This can help other students feel involved in the school and have their religion represented in the classroom. The other option would be to not represent Christmas at all in the classroom, but it is very difficult to do this at the elementary age.
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Solution 64
Posted October 26, 2015 11:50 am

ezajaV
ezajaV
Reps: 102
I would suggest to have each of your students bring in something that is part of their culture and decorate your classroom this way. You can have the theme, “Christmas Around the World.” This would allow all the different cultures in your classroom. You could also have each student discuss their culture and what they do at this time of year.
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Solution 65
Posted October 26, 2015 11:54 pm

Kateline Vaughn
Kateline Vaughn
Reps: 106
Holidays, especially Christmas, can be controversial in schools and work places. Since people have different beliefs. It is important to represent everyone's culture in situations like these or none at all. The more optimistic approach would seem to be to include everyone's culture and beliefs. Instead of having Christmas parties, they can be "Winter Celebrations" or "End of Semester Celebrations." As long as one holiday isn't portrayed above others, then I don't think parents will have a problem with it.
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Solution 66
Posted October 27, 2015 4:00 pm

Amanda Whittaker
Amanda Whittaker
Reps: 114
I think all teachers have been guilty of that at some point in their career. It may not be with just Christmas either. They do have a right to say something and their is not much that we can say about. Let them know that you are not trying to push your religion on them and even invite them to share what customs they have for the holiday season. This will show that you are open to other cultures and welcome them to share with the class. In the future, be careful with what you say and how much time you spend on the holiday season.
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Solution 67
Posted October 28, 2015 8:09 pm

Tetygy
Tetygy
Reps: 90
Religion is an especially touchy issue. I have a small classroom since I teach in a self-contained classroom. In my opening letter I send home a few questions regarding culture and religion so I know what some of their traditions are. I feel like it cannot hurt for everyone to learn about everyone's culture and religion. So I try to celebrate everyone's culture and religion. I understand that you were not trying to indoctrinate children into Christianity, but I understand how the parents felt the way they did.
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Solution 68
Posted October 31, 2015 8:31 pm

Daisy Dumler
Daisy Dumler
Reps: 106
I think that if we are going to decorate our classroom we decorate for all holidays and include all religions. I think it would be neat to have each family send in a list of holidays they celebrate and what decorations we could use. we could also have a class discussion for each holiday and allow each child to contribute. if the family would like to send in special foods or decorations that would be a great contribution, they could even come in and talk about it.
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Solution 69
Posted November 2, 2015 1:56 am

Qybuse
Qybuse
Reps: 118
Although the teacher might have been taken aback by the parents' complaints, I think they have a valid point. I don't think that the parents were objecting the addition of the Christmas items, but were rather concerned that Christmas was the only holiday represented. It would be great for the teacher to send home a questionnaire with his or her students to see what holidays are celebrated in their homes. At that point, teachers could ask parents if they would like to send in special items to celebrate their culture or even come to the classroom to share some of their culture's traditions. Elementary students love to be the "stars" of the class; sharing about their cultures would make them feel like celebrities! Bridging that gap between school and home is crucial, especially in diverse classrooms.
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Solution 70
Posted November 2, 2015 2:02 am

Amanda Robinson
Amanda Robinson
Reps: 98
While the Christmas season is my favorite time of year, as teacher we have to be certain that we do not extend our beliefs to our students. Therefore, I would first apologize to the parents. Next, I would ask the parents if they could bring in small pieces that celebrate their respective holiday. That way each of the students can be represented but also so that students can learn about other holidays besides Christmas.
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Solution 71
Posted November 20, 2015 9:07 pm

Hedynu
Hedynu
Reps: 112
Only you can really answer if you were trying to indoctrinate your students. Based on what you wrote, you were simply inviting the class to celebrate the Christmas Holidays with you; that does not translate, in my opinion, as “indoctrination”. However, only you can answer your true intent, and considering the parents’ scruples, perhaps you should.
I would explain to the parents that teachers’ classroom are typically a reflection of who they are, their values, their teaching philosophy, and a host of other things they hold dear. If you celebrate Christmas because you are a person of faith, regardless of which faith, then you have a right to express that in your classroom- unless your Employee handbook specifies otherwise. In a perfect world, we would all respect each other’s religions, even if we do not practice them. My question would be, what are the parents’ suggestions for appeasing the situation? Are they suggesting you remove your Christmas material, or add a more diverse selection? Are you willing to compromise by applying the latter? I personally do not think removing the Christmas items is a fair compromise.
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Solution 72
Posted November 20, 2015 9:10 pm

Hedynu
Hedynu
Reps: 112
Only you can really answer if you were trying to indoctrinate your students. Based on what you wrote, you were simply inviting the class to celebrate the Christmas Holidays with you; that does not translate, in my opinion, as “indoctrination”. However, only you can answer your true intent, and considering the parents’ scruples, perhaps you should.
I would explain to the parents that teachers’ classroom are typically a reflection of who they are, their values, their teaching philosophy, and a host of other things they hold dear. If you celebrate Christmas because you are a person of faith, regardless of which faith, then you have a right to express that in your classroom- unless your Employee handbook specifies otherwise. In a perfect world, we would all respect each other’s religions, even if we do not practice them. My question would be, what are the parents’ suggestions for appeasing the situation? Are they suggesting you remove your Christmas material, or add a more diverse selection? Are you willing to compromise by applying the latter? I personally do not think removing the Christmas items is a fair compromise.
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Solution 73
Posted December 7, 2012 11:46 pm

areli saucedo
areli saucedo
Reps: 119
He is not right. I would tell the parents in a proper professional and respectful manner, that this is the United States and thus Christmas is a very popular holiday. The tree is just another element that belongs to this holiday. I would explain to him that the tree and santa claus has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity in a school setting. Also, I would explain to him that its illegal to talk about religion or input your religious beliefs to a student. (He might not be aware of this) and then I would tell him that he should educated his/her child about their culture's religion in a more effective way.
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Stormye Brantley
Stormye Brantley
Reps: 121
I agree that explaining to the parents that the teacher is not trying to specifically teach about Christianity. You are correct, they may not understand that fact. However, I also believe the teacher could teach about other holidays rather than just Christmas because it's "popular in America."
  Posted on: October 24, 2013 7:53 pm

yJaGus
yJaGus
Reps: 106
This is a good way to address to the parents why you did what you did with Christmas. It is very important to communicate with the parents so that they know the reasons behind why you do certain things.
  Posted on: November 2, 2013 6:40 pm

SaSyXu
SaSyXu
Reps: 105
I would tell the parents that you aren't trying to force their children into a different religion that you are just celebrating your religion!
  Posted on: October 21, 2014 8:08 pm

NyVyTy
NyVyTy
Reps: 90
I totally agree with this solution. Initially I hadn't thought about the situation from this angle, but this solution is fair and firm, and also points out the biggest problem of properly educating the student of his/her religious affairs to the parents.
  Posted on: October 26, 2014 6:08 pm

ezasyp
ezasyp
Reps: 107
Honestly I think your solution in very bold on your part. As a parent I would be even more upset if you told me that Christmas is just apart of the United States (basically get over it) and that I should do a better job at teaching my religion to my child. I would probably then have my child pulled from your class because you are not very understanding. It is time for you to realize that the United States is a melting pot and everyone needs to be taken into consideration. Elementary school and middle school holds ages where students are learning about who they are. If you are providing one sided information, it can be very confusing to a child. I think you should support the parents one their efforts and just take the decorations down.
  Posted on: October 29, 2014 4:17 pm

April Rozier
April Rozier
Reps: 110
I agree that explaining that Christmas is not strictly related to Christianity for many people. Some people celebrate the season of giving and spending time with family rather than the birth of Jesus. Explaining this to the parents may help them to realize that you are not discussing the religious aspect of Christmas in the classroom.
  Posted on: October 31, 2014 9:45 pm

Japuje
Japuje
Reps: 107
Kind of a harsh way to talk to a parent, but I like it. As teachers we are not allowed to express our religious beliefs with students or try to indoctrinate them in any way. I also like that you pointed out that the decorations don't necessarily represent Christianity, but are related to an Americanized holiday version of the actual celebration of Christmas. This version ignores the actual meaning of Christmas and is somewhat secular.
  Posted on: October 19, 2015 4:30 pm

ehyNyn
ehyNyn
Reps: 109
I have to respectfully disagree with this approach. As a teacher in the United States, it is your job to separate your personal beliefs and your job. This being said, you have to think about each and every student within your classroom when making decisions for your classroom. Think about it like this...if you have decorations for a holiday and the parents of your students aren't comfortable with it, there is a likelihood that there are going to conversations at home about it. If parents aren't comfortable, the students may not be comfortable and this creates a situation where the students are coming to your class and can't concentrate on learning. I don't think any teacher wants that!
  Posted on: October 20, 2015 11:57 pm

Kristen Bagwell
Kristen Bagwell
Reps: 107
While Christianity is a major religion in the United States, it is not the only religion. As a teacher, you have to be aware of who you are teaching. I don't think that the teacher was trying to convert or teach students about Christianity; I think he/she thought it would be nice to have a Christmas tree and read books about Rudolph. I do not think that saying that Christianity is the religion of the teacher is the way to handle this situation. From my point of view, a teacher should allow opportunities for exploration of all cultural holidays or no exploration of cultural holidays. Make this about learning about and accepting new cultures.
  Posted on: October 22, 2015 1:15 pm

uPaSeW
uPaSeW
Reps: 209
I do not think this a good approach to take. As a public school teacher, we have to recognize all students in the classroom. All students do not celebrate Christmas which is in fact a Christian holiday. Christmas trees and Santa Clause both represent Christmas. If the classroom setting is representing one religious holiday, then it has to celebrate other religious holidays as well.



  Posted on: October 25, 2015 8:19 pm

Amanda Whittaker
Amanda Whittaker
Reps: 114
I feel that this is not a idea. I would be very offended if you told me that I needed to educate my child more effectively about my religion. Many may not know that teaching religion in school is illegal, but there is a better way to communicate this to the parent. Even though you say that the tree and Santa are just about the holiday, others may not see that and could be offended.
  Posted on: October 27, 2015 4:07 pm

Daisy Dumler
Daisy Dumler
Reps: 106
I agree that explaining to the parent that the teacher isn't trying to convert their child is a good idea but we should also include any other religion or holiday.
  Posted on: October 31, 2015 8:33 pm

Hedynu
Hedynu
Reps: 112
@Kristen Bagwell- You pose a great idea! Finding a way to integrate a variety of cultural topics maybe a supplemental way to appease the parents, while not compromising the integrity of either parties’ beliefs. Considering inviting the students to share stories from their home country or work on an activity that explores that cultural background would likely make the parents feel that you, as the teacher, care about all cultures and welcome diversity in your classroom.
  Posted on: November 20, 2015 9:18 pm

Hedynu
Hedynu
Reps: 112
@ehyNyn- It does not appear that this situation is a problem for the student, only the parents. The teacher stated that all of the students seem to enjoy the festiveness of the classroom. I understand that a troubled child can disrupt a learning environment, but this does not seem to be the case in this example. The child does not seem troubled, just the parents. I just think that decorating the classroom in a host of world religions to pacify offended parents is a bit superfluous.
  Posted on: November 20, 2015 9:24 pm

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