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LastMinute123 LastMinute123 is offline
 
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Elf in a Shelf...
Old 12-04-2017, 07:46 AM
 
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...in a public school classroom in which there are non-Christian kids makes me frustrated for those kids. Can't we stick with snowmen and gingerbread and ice skating and sledding and all those fun non-religious winter activities and decorations?

Imagine the uproar if I told them we were all going to skip lunch for a month in recognition of Eid or fast in recognition of Catholic Holy Days or atone for our sins on Yom Kippur.

I'm big on fun. I just want it to be the kind that applies to everyone. I hate walking into a classroom and seeing divisive fun when it's so easy to make it inclusive.


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Old 12-04-2017, 09:18 AM
 
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I donít think Elf on a shelf should be in a classroom but it has nothing to do with Christianity. Many many non-Christians celebrate Christmas, but they do it with Santa and elves and snowmen.

And itís not analogous to ďatoning for sinsĒ or fasting. Now, if there was a nativity set up, that would be bringing religion in.

So, in general, I agree that schools shouldnít do holiday celebrations that are divisive (which I think pretty much includes all of them) but please donít equate a dumb toy with a religious expression.
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Old 12-04-2017, 09:24 AM
 
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...Many many non-Christians celebrate Christmas, but they do it with Santa and elves and snowmen...
And many don't. Be careful with Santa or you may end up with the child of the non celebrating family sobbing in the classroom about Santa not visiting her, as the teacher across the hall from me once did.
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Old 12-04-2017, 09:54 AM
 
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Which is why I agreed there should be no Elf or any holiday traditions. I just didn’t like the elf being equated with
fasting or atoning for sins.

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Old 12-04-2017, 11:19 AM
 
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I understand that elves are not biblically associated and that non-Christians often celebrate the cultural (vs. religious) version of Christmas. However, without the birth of Christ there would be no Christmas, so it retains a religious association. It makes me crazy to celebrate a holiday in public school that has that religious association. Teach ABOUT how people celebrate, sure. No parent has ever argued with me about that in early elementary school. But celebrating it isn't cool.


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How about....
Old 12-04-2017, 11:50 AM
 
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The crazy Facebooking/Pinteresting/Instagraming super duper uber mom of the century, who was all stoked to snap those golden moments of the Elf on the Shelf is Here! And you, crummy teacher, have killed it because you did the elf FIRST! She did not catch those first moments of the Elf to blast all over social media.

Now those moments are tainted. The SneuFlay-'kez saw the teacher's elf first. Mom should have been the first to see the joy in their eyes. They should see her perfected Pinterest inspired hand made elf costume, because that original outfit is so UGH. No, instead her reasons for living saw your dusty, ratchet elf plunked on your nasty plastic bookshelf.

Do you out of your way to undermine. ALL HOLIDAY MAGIC? Lol...

Go ahead. Go show Polar Express with your ratty powered hot chocolate and stale marshmallows. Kill that fun too.

The above is a not so far from the truth meltdowns moms had when the kindy and 1st grade teachers did EOTS and showed Polar Express. Who knew it was some huge holiday tradition that was forever ruin because some scene stealing teachers DID IT FIRST?

Anyhoo...you'd think they stabbed Baby Jesus.

Next year ALL EOTS were banned and permissions slips need for Polar Express.

If parents would only get that passionate about learning and their kids' behaviors.

ETA...The moms would live stream/Skype the EOTS moments for relatives/their YouTube channel. Some did it for Polar Express Movie Night
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I don't know about other countries
Old 12-04-2017, 12:47 PM
 
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But in the United States, Christmas is a legal, federal holiday. Frankly, I'm mostly too busy, too behind, and sort of bah humbug to do too much Christmas stuff, and don't get me started on that wretched Elf, who should be banned forever, IMNSHO.

But I don't think people should get upset over some children doing a few Reindeer themed math worksheets or some sort of writing prompt with a secular Christmas theme. Christmas IS a major celebration in this country, and even those who don't celebrate certainly can't expect themselves or their children to be shielded from every possible mention.

(This is coming from an American who sang "God Save the Queen" with gusto when we lived in Australia, and celebrated the end of Ramadan when we lived in Morocco. My dad taught us to appreciate the cultural differences between countries and enjoy our differences.)
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Elf on a Shelf
Old 12-04-2017, 01:10 PM
 
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I hate Elf on a Shelf.
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Never did elf on the shelf in class
Old 12-04-2017, 01:11 PM
 
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because I always seemed to have kids who did not believe in Santa and I always had at least one kid with some anxiety who did believe in Santa and probably would freak out if they did something wrong and the elf would tell Santa.

However, the elf did appear in the teacher's room and yes, he showed up drunk with little beer cans all around, floating up to the ceiling in a basket with a helium balloon, melting snowmen cookies with a barbie hair dryer and other crazy stuff. One of the administrators thought it was hilarious and when he was out of the building made the principal send him a photo. He swore it was the Special Ed. teacher setting it up. I have been retired for 2 years now and just now they have realized it was me all along.
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I'm with the Elf-Haters
Old 12-04-2017, 01:25 PM
 
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Quote:
don't get me started on that wretched Elf, who should be banned forever, IMNSHO.
Quote:
I hate Elf on a Shelf.

But, I agree that it has NOTHING to do with Christianity:


Quote:
I donít think Elf on a shelf should be in a classroom but it has nothing to do with Christianity.

I say this tongue-in-cheek: be careful on PT discussing EOTS . There have been some vigorous 'discussions' about him in years past !


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Religious Neutrality in Schools?
Old 12-04-2017, 01:30 PM
 
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Why don't we just do away with anything that might have the slightest chance of offending anyone or making a child cry? Some schools have already gone to great lengths to neutralize our time-honored American traditions, especially when they allude to the Judeo-Christian beliefs of our founding fathers and mothers. Strictly speaking, they shouldn't have any school activities or decorations related to Christmas - even a few paper snowflakes on the windows might some children feel socially deprived if their parents can't afford to take them to play in the snow. Maybe we shouldn't even mention the word religion in schools to avoid offending any atheists? Perhaps we should avoid making anyone feel frustrated or causing a social uproar at all costs? What do you think?
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My curriculum
Old 12-04-2017, 01:56 PM
 
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I am currently teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities. Their curriculum is about holiday traditions this month. There are stories and activities for each holiday. This coming Wednesday we are making "gingerbread" houses (graham crackers) with the students from both self-contained classrooms. My school had a local dance group come and do some of their dances from The Nutcracker. We collect food for the local food pantries with the understanding that people need help with food during the holiday season as they are buying gifts for their children. I don't care for the Elf on the Shelf, except as a fun way for adults to entertain themselves (naughty elf) to get through the holidays. I don't think it belongs in school as some students have disabilities that impact their behaviors. I can't imagine their stress. Other students might be doing their best and doing very well, only to go home and not get anything for Christmas, either due to their family situation or their religions. I believe in educating children that their are many religions with their own holidays and traditions, but not dwelling on the season of Christmas.
Kathy
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Old 12-04-2017, 03:30 PM
 
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Okay I"m rollling my eyes a little bit at the whole idea of doing away with snoflakes. I understand that you feel that people have gone a little too far overboard. I think as a society we've moved away from having these "fun" themes that are unrelated to our curriculum. Much like Kathy, I've taught in a year that the curriculum addressed holidays. So we taught holidays around world. Did we have Christmasy things in one room? Yep because the kids then went to a room where they discussed Jewish holidays and another where they discussed Muslim holidays.
And I have to agree with LastMinute123 that while there is a difference between the cultural and religious aspects of Christmas and that one can celebrate the cultural parts without observing the religious parts, there would be no cultural parts without the religious parts. I'd do all or nothing and frankly I choose to do nothing.
I hate that Elf.
And I'm surprised by the nubmer of teachers who have apparently put up Christmas trees in public schools.
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Old 12-04-2017, 03:45 PM
 
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And I'm surprised by the nubmer of teachers who have apparently put up Christmas trees in public schools.
Wow - I never once thought about not putting up a tree in my classroom (although mine is about 2 feet tall and sits on the table). I guess it has to do with where I live. I do send home a letter at the beginning of the year and it has a place for "holidays celebrated or not celebrated" so I can address anything that may be offensive. So far it's never come up. Even my muslim and jewish kids through the years also celebrate Christmas.

I don't, however, do Elf on the Shelf. Mainly because I don't want one more thing to do in my classroom , and it's not educational. My P frowns on things she considers "froo-froo".

Makes me appreciate where I live even more.
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Old 12-04-2017, 04:23 PM
 
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UCan, I absolutely think public schools should be religiously neutral. I am of the denomination that is most widely practiced in my area. When I moved to a different part of the country, the teachers at the public school where I taught tried to convert me because they thought my "normal" made me a hell-bent heathen. I was called into the principal's office to clarify his incorrect perceptions of my religious beliefs. Heaven forbid I taught the kids Christmas my way!

It is SO easy, and I mean SO EASY, to do snowflakes, skating, sledding, skiing, gingerbread house, snowball fights, snowmen, and other religiously neutral themes on decorations, projects, and other fun winter classroom activities.

Teaching ABOUT a religion --> Public school
Celebrating a religious holiday --> Private school

Let me guess. You practice the majority religion in your area. You match the skin color, language, and economic level of the middle-to-upper average. You'd like everyone to stop getting so offended about doing things your way.....But you're offended at the thought of doing it someone else's way? Pot, meet kettle.
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My atheists student
Old 12-04-2017, 04:29 PM
 
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My most proud atheist anti-Christain student's family celebrates Christmas and decorates their entire house. I used to work with a Jewish teacher and I always gave her a little Hannukah gift. She was a spec ed teacher and she gave her kids all Christmas gifts. I've worked with so many students from so many countries and religions. I have always just included their special holidays into our festivals. One year I had a beautiful child from India. We celebrated Diwali in the fall and did so much art work from India. I think it's great fun to celebrate holidays ... All holidays. I line my shelves with multi-cultural books all year long.

I don't think most atheists or people from other cultures or religions share your viewpoint.
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Old 12-04-2017, 04:41 PM
 
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I've been wanting to vent on something similar since Halloween. There's a large Jehovah Witness population in my district. A lot of my coworkers are very passive aggressive with them. The best is my colleagues aren't religious. They just want to do "fun" stuff. :/
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Old 12-04-2017, 05:29 PM
 
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Trunch, tbh it sounds like you're basing your information on one atheist student that you know. Perhaps I'm wrong. I know other students (athetist and non-Christian) who don't celebrate Christmas and it'd rub them the wrong way. Also these are the same people who would never dream about expressing their discomfort out of concern for offending others so many woulnd't know they were bohtered by it. Different sets of anecdotal evidence.
And SusanTeach, my opinions would probably be similar to yours if I taught at a school where every single person practiced the same religious faith. I guess it wouldn't be a big deal then.
I have never been in that situaiton though so I've never ever put up a Christmas tree. I've always done what LastMinute123 said and gone for a generic winter theme, usually involving snowflakes. I'm notorious bad about changing the limited theme I have so to be honest there's still a pumpkin board on one of my bulletin boards.
You know what I'm putting in my room tomorrow? A garden gnome. Just because.
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Old 12-04-2017, 05:44 PM
 
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Actually, every single Atheist I know celebrates Christmas...the tree/decorations/gifts/. They view it like the Tooth Fairy. Perhaps it's a geographical thing.
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Old 12-04-2017, 05:58 PM
 
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At all the schools I have taught at, in 2 different, geographically distant states, we have had Christmas trees set up in the lobby.
Teaching religion is different than experiencing the secular parts associated with the holy day.
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Oh my!
Old 12-04-2017, 06:05 PM
 
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Imagine if your principal bought everyone an elf on the shelf....

Yes, my building kicked off this holiday season with an elf placed in each of our rooms over Thanksgiving break.

We were not asked if we wanted this. It is very frustrating when admins make decisions, but they arenít required to spend the day dealing with the consequences of their decisions.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:20 PM
 
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Trunch, huh. Maybe it is a geographic thing since I've had the opposite experience. Interesting and good to know.
Rkhnd, here's the thing: yes, the secular version of a holiday is different than teaching of the religious aspects of it. In situations where there is a curriculum based introduction to multiple holidays, I've had no problem teaching about any of the holidays. It is very hard for me to separate the secular versions of the holiday (the Elif on the Shelf, the Christmas tree, the secular music associated with Christmas, the holiday lights) from the religious part of it. Why? Because why do I do any of it? Because of a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. I don't string lights for the fourth of July. I'm not singing Santa Baby in June (although now I might start because boy that'd be a great way to embarass the teen).
I guess that does not make other people feel uncomfortable but it does make me feel uncomfortable. Outside of school, I'm decking the halls and fa-la-la-la-laing and Merry Christmas-ing and Sunday school Christmas pageant photographing. I'm all out.
At school I'm struggling to remember to change the bullletin boards to reflect the season's. I suspect because if the situations were reversed and I was in the religious minority, I'd like my kids to attend a public school free from even the secular aspects of a religious holiday.
In any case, thanks for the conversation y'all. I'm going to go with the Gnome in the Home rather than the Elf on the Shelf.
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Hmmmm...
Old 12-04-2017, 06:26 PM
 
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My atheist friends absolutely do not celebrate Christmas. No lights, tree or goo-gahs.

The Jewish friends do not celebrate *Christmas Lite* cough..cough Americanized Chanukah. They are Sabra Israelis (families have been there since the 1950s, and they were born there.) So when an American Jewish neighbor asked if they were putting up a Chanukah Bush, my friend thought the neighbor lost her mind. In Israel, Chanukah is a minor rabbinical holiday. It's a time for fun with the kids, but not let's get 8 days of big deal gifts.

Judaism in Israel is Orthodox branch. In the US it's Reform branch. Probably the reason for the holiday difference.
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Old 12-04-2017, 06:48 PM
 
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I wasn't trying to dismiss you or your thoughts. I live in California and the regional differences here are extreme. San Francisco vs Bakersfield .... I just thinking about how different they are. Or Berekely vs Paso Robles. I have never lived outside California, but have lived all over California. There's even different accents in California regions. I would have to imagine there would be equally huge differences in East Coast / West Coast.....and everywhere in between. California has hundreds of languages and cultures. I can't even imagine living without diversity. My personal friends include those who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Nothing. But every single one of them celebrates Christmas AND that's just my little world. PEACE
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The Trunch...
Old 12-04-2017, 07:13 PM
 
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My experience is similar to yours. I'm in the south. Even the Muslim kids here look forward to Santa Claus. My school does have a Christmas tree (and lots of other Christmas decor) in the lobby, as well as several trees in teacher's classrooms. I don't think anyone thinks it's a big deal, but I could be wrong. If there's anyone who doesn't like it, they haven't been vocal about it as far as I can tell. I teach a unit every year on winter holidays. We just started it today. It includes Hanukkah, Christmas, Three King's Day, Korean New Year, and Kwanzaa.
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:16 PM
 
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Makes me glad I am retired!
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Old 12-04-2017, 07:24 PM
 
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I almost never weigh in on these types of discussions, but I’m tired so what the heck.

Personally, I’m Jewish and the last 5 years I’ve had the bilingual cluster of kids which, in this building, means students from the Middle East. I’ve always chosen to avoid doing anything with holidays. Not necessarily for religious reasons (although it’s played a part), but because it’s not who I am as a teacher. I would never do EOTS. It makes me uncomfortable for many reasons. I also don’t think it would fly in my building given our diverse student population.

One year my teaching partner and I did Holidays Around the World and had an amazing time. We played the dreidle game, learned about Kwanza, etc.

I think individual teachers need to do what works for them and their kids. Obviously what works in one area would be a train wreck in another area. It is what it is.
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Just curious....
Old 12-04-2017, 07:37 PM
 
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Are there the same objections to Halloween and St. Patrickís day themes/activities? They are also celebrations that began as religious observations but have become secularized.
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Christmas
Old 12-04-2017, 09:49 PM
 
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Those saying its a Christian holiday... It has roots in the pagan celebration of Winter Solstice. (My friends who celebrate the Solstice all celebrate Christmas too btw).

The Christmas tree? Not religious. Another tradition that has roots in paganism. I believe the Vikings brought in evergreens as a sign of health and strength in the dead of winter.

In our district (suburb of Seattle) Christmas trees are allowed in the schools. However, the only one I've seen is a giving tree, which is used to collect gifts for the homeless/less fortunate.

I usually stick to teaching about "holiday lights" and different holidays that are celebrated around this time.

Elf on a shelf? Big tattler. And this season is a season of giving and kindness, not gifts for "being good". My love for my children is not a conditional love. I've seen the "kindness elves" and I think that's more of an appropriate way to celebrate this season.
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I agree with Greyhound Girl.
Old 12-04-2017, 10:18 PM
 
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Quote:
I think individual teachers need to do what works for them and their kids. Obviously what works in one area would be a train wreck in another area. It is what it is.

Well said, Greyhound Girl. Thank you!
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Old 12-05-2017, 03:54 AM
 
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If you don't feel comfortable sharing secular holiday culture in your clsssroom, that is your business.

When I was in elementary school, some 50 years ago, we learned about the non-religious aspects of Christmas and Chanukah. I still remember learning to play a draidel game and the words to a song about a draidel.

Sharing cultural activities is not teaching religion.
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Old 12-12-2017, 07:10 PM
 
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What kind of elf? High, Wood, Dark, House, or Keebler? I'd rather read the Lord of the Rings and have the kids learn about elves in high fantasy.
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