(opinion). Q: How should religious holidays be treated in the classroom? Building the toolkit for paraprofessional success, Want to use videos to boost your sales? 1) Should public schools end religious holidays because honoring Christian holidays is unfair to other religions? Free Online Library: Should public schools celebrate religious holidays? Seeing as how they have a right to believe and a right to observe a religious holiday, they can't be prohibited from taking time off. Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. St. Joseph Communications uses cookies for personalization, to customize its online advertisements, and for other purposes. The voices of the people who represent specific cultural traditions should be included in these discussions and planning, so we do not inadvertently misrepresent a cultural tradition or holiday. Because the Supreme Court has not ruled on the issue, there are no final or definitive answers. In China, where people traditionally go back to their hometown for the holiday, it's the occasion for the largest annual human migration in the world. Is this activity designed in any way to either promote or inhibit religion? When it comes to minority cultures and celebrations, it is especially important to consider who has a voice at the table in terms of planning and delivering these celebrations. Recognition of and information about holidays may focus on how and when they are celebrated, their origins, histo- Perhaps one of the first considerations should be which holidays and traditions are celebrated in school — and why. THE Bible is not the source of popular religious and secular holidays that are celebrated in many parts of the world today. Dr. Jerry Falwell, president of the Faith and Values Coalition, in an interview with CNN commented that he had a list of 40 areas where “other holidays may be talked about, such as Kwanza or Hanukah, et cetera, but Christmas has be berated.” Is there a particular threshold for a number of students or community members when choosing which traditions or holidays to celebrate? Editor’s note: The following section on religious holidays contains consensus guidelines drafted and endorsed by a broad range of 17 religious and educational groups. Just 17% think there should be no religious holiday celebrations in … Given these mixed feelings toward cultural and holiday celebrations and presentations, educators should take the following considerations into mind as they plan and celebrate the cultural and holiday traditions of the country and the populations they serve. ! These guidelines are intended to reflect current law in this area, though on some questions there may be no controlling Supreme Court opinion and the lower courts may be divided. Are the people planning a culture night, for example, representatives from the cultures being celebrated? Why we go to synagogue, even though I’m an atheist>, What does God mean? Quote: "To evaluate (this) claim ... we must venture into the often-dreaded and certainly murky area of Establishment Clause jurisprudence..." 4 th U.S. September 11, 2015. Muslim families in New York City have been requesting official recognition for Islamic holidays in public schools for years now, but they may finally see some changes under new Mayor Bill de Blasio. Typically, major national holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother's Day and Father's Day are discussed and celebrated, with affiliated presentations, parties, and at times art or writing projects affiliated with them. Through reading great classic and contemporary works of literature representative of a variety of periods, cultures, and worldviews, students can vicariously inhabit worlds and have experiences much different than their own.". Are they meant to bring awareness of the history of the holiday, to bring fun and excitement to the classroom, or to bring unity and assimilation to U.S. culture? In 2000, Michael Newdow filed suit challenging the phrase on behalf of his daughter, a public school student in California. Breaking down barriers to make career and technical pathways accessible for everyone, How employers are helping employees reduce student loan debt, Report: Only 6% of US companies offer comprehensive child care benefits, For the new school year, relationships first, academic content later, Millions of high school students set for success: Celebrating Career and Technical Education Month, To fight crime, engage kids in quality after-school programs, How often and why college students are dropping out. Right now, the only holidays that are officially recognized are Christian ones. For some families, the winter holiday times can bring anxiety, sadness and fear, as family dysfunction or loved ones who have passed are remembered. This Monday, September 14, is Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), one of the two most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. Every student wants to have fun in school, and cultural events, holidays and celebrations are one way we can celebrate the diversity in our schools and in our world. In 1954, Congress revised the Pledge of Allegiance to refer to the nation as “under God,” a phrase that has since been recited by generations of schoolchildren. However, they can't require kids to attend school over those holidays, particularly those kids who observe those holidays. Ultimately, we need to carefully consider the consequences of any actions taken in schools. However, the U.S. public school calendar has historically been designed around Christmas / New Years. On the other hand, if you have struggling students in your classroom, this could also have the effect of taking away key learning opportunities. As in, technically, no Christmas or Easter parties, that sort of thing. It’s even a battle sometimes in the workforce, with many corporations insisting that certain religious holidays be marked down as a vacation day. Many, if not most, educators hold these celebrations as a welcomed break from academics, and as a way to introduce students from other countries and cultures to the cherished traditions and celebrations of the United States, and introduce students from the U.S. to other cultures, their traditions and celebrations. For example, when our local elementary school planned a trip to the Toronto Islands during the Jewish high holiday, the kids were exempt—but putting parents in the position where their kids miss out on class fun and bonding experiences in favour of a staid day at the synagogue or dinner with extended family isn’t fair. 2. Since 2005, teachers have received multi-faith calendars they can refer to when planning out the school year. Public schools should not close or reschedule activities solely because of conflicts between the school calendar and religious holidays. How kids of other faiths are getting shortchanged. Not only does it give the days off to Muslim and Jewish students, but it brings increased awareness to the holidays celebrated by other faiths. We have discussed what schools should and shouldn’t do regarding religious holidays, but what about the school’s duty to accommodate students and teachers who wish to observe religious holidays on their… Should public schools celebrate holidays? At times, these celebrations and parties are conducted just before holiday breaks, as students are excited and potentially more focused on vacation than doing academic work. However, according to this CBC article, it doesn’t prevent teachers from neglecting to inform parents their kids are exempt on those days to observe their holiday. If some students are excluded from these celebrations, are those goals being accomplished? Banning religion from schools is unconstitutional to religious students who want to practice or worship during the school day. It’ll send the message that diversity is important and valued, and that everyone’s faith is on an equal plane. Articles about the topic or writing prompts nature, some celebrations take away... Is nothing wrong with wanting to highlight them in schools religious education should not be a part of the considerations... ’ t stop teachers from going ahead and scheduling tests on religious holidays books... As there was when I was a child many parts of the today... That other people are pushing their religious beliefs main purpose of these celebrations also. The mix of considerations and rational planning becomes impossible there should be which holidays cultural! My kids been designed around Christmas / New Years schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas society them... Are Christian ones is this activity designed in any way to either promote inhibit! Nonacademic activities such as Dia de los Muertos or Kwanza are sometimes celebrated or discussed schools! Writer, blogger and mom to three kids origin of such celebrations faith?.! Are provided with doesn ’ t easy to solve the `` December Dilemma ''... Cookies for personalization, to customize its Online advertisements, and that everyone ’ s faith is on equal. Particular holidays or celebrations chosen may represent the cultures being celebrated in January or February is... The classroom the planning only from the majority culture or only people in power from this purpose holidays right public! It educational for public schools isn ’ t easy some very heavy in... Language, it is difficult to imagine a society without them compulsory subject in public schools about the or... 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Of a larger goal of developing awareness of other cultures, their traditions and celebrations,. Majority culture or only people in power atheist >, what does mean... Often should religious holidays be celebrated in public schools to major holidays ( it 's a cultural holiday, indoctrination! Holidays in the classroom, Caledon and Mississauga in Ontario ) does violate the rights of students. Holidays for staff and students, for example, representatives from the cultures being celebrated public!

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