I know this is not a tech related post for a tech focussed class, but I will try and throw in some new (to me) tech stuff like a video or something. So innovative Andrew, I know…
I am writing this to elicit as many opinions as possible because I am pretty hard in my stance on the issue of changing the names and celebrations of holidays in public schools in Saskatchewan. I want to know if I am being insensitive or ignorant on the issue, so feel free to let me have it if you think that I am way off base. I think that this issue presents an interesting topic to discuss because we all have different backgrounds but we all share 2 things in common. We all want to be teachers (and some of us will teach in the public system) and we are all Canadian.
I will make my points but keep in mind my opinion comes from the perspective of a parent, a freelancing Christian background, a BA in history, a perspective teacher and a public school alumn from Regina.
- The Christian part is included because I do not want to devalue the fact that a lot of the celebrations in schools are based on Christian holidays. In the Catholic Shcool system, where I interned, these days were a ton of fun. There were a variety of student led activities, dances and project base learning around the holidays. The fact that I am not an avid church goer is important because it does not bother me that these events are being called something different for the sake of religion. It is that students are not allowed to wear costumes, decorate trees or exchange cards with cheesy puns on them.
- As a parent and public school alumn, it bothers me because I can remember how much fun it was to dress up, get a Valentine from a crush, get crushed because I did not get one from said crush, miss a bunch of boring subjects because you were making Christmas decorations, etc. I know that as a teacher these things seem unimportant, but when I was participating with students in these art projects in my internship it was a ton of fun and reminded me of how much I enjoyed them as a student. I feel that my kids are missing out on some experiences that I cherished growing up.
- The last point deals with my background in History. I took my fair share of Canadian History courses and I remember learning a lot about Canadian identity. It is a very debatable concept because often Canadians sometimes are at a loss at what makes us Canadian. If you feel I am out to lunch, watch “Being Canadian” a documentary by Rob Cohen. I would argue that these holidays in our school are an experience that connects us to our national identity. I asked both my grandparents and parents if these events were going on when they were in elementary school and both parties smiled and talked about costumes they wore and songs they sang at Christmas concerts.
This is not just something that is happening in Saskatchewan or Canada. There was an article a couple weeks ago in the CBC about a school in Minnesota that has done away with celebrating these events also. The article talks about how South Park is even taking jabs at this idea by introducing a character called PC principal (have not seen it).
I feel that inclusion is a very important part of school. All students should feel that their culture and identity is being respected at school without fear of being bullied or excluded. With that said, I have a story about our daughters first babysitter who was a new Canadian from Pakistan. About a week before Halloween she asked me what she needed to do to get ready for the 31st. We talked back and forth for awhile and she was excited about dressing her kids up and experiencing this. I never once got the impression that she felt religion was a part of it. She knew that it was about having fun, getting dressed up, eating unhealthy food and potentially having to deal with dental bills that are no longer covered in the Canadian Health care system.
So am I out to lunch? What are our roles as teachers if we feel one way or another about this in the schools we teach at? I am curious to hear how other people feel about this. I did not do a ton of research about what other public school systems are doing in Canada, but I assume it is similar. This is just something that I felt people would have opinions on and that we will be dealing with if and when we get jobs (maybe I will be looking harder for one or converting to Catholicism after this post).