For the last few weeks, my daughter has come home from school with Christmas worksheets, coloring activities, songs on her lips, and lists of presents she wants. Given that we are not a Christian household, this is a little disturbing. I relish the fact that she goes to a diverse school and will be exposed to many different celebrations and cultures; I just didn’t expect it to be so embedded in the curriculum and so forcefully Christian. My wife and I finally had enough when a hand colored card came in the door with Happy Christmas written in my daughter’s best phonetic spelling and an explanation of the arrival of a candy cane at Christmas to eat. As an aside, there has been a fair amount of candy, cookies, and other foods that I was a little taken aback about, but that is a topic for another day.
My wife went in to talk to the teacher on Thursday morning, a time the teacher suggested, and got a defensive response. We first wanted to understand what was going on because all we see of it is what ends up in our daughter’s folder and what she tells us. The perspective of a five year-old is not the most robust understanding of what is going on. We wanted to be sure that there was some balance between cultures represented in the curriculum, and we also were concerned about the amount of time spent on Christmas. Not only that, we did not particularly like the worksheet nature of the material coming home. Results that we hoped for were the opportunity to sit down and have a longer conversation to understand what was going on. Some shift in the amount of Christmas stuff would have been nice. On the other side, we did not want to sour the relationship between our daughter and her teacher, and we did not want our daughter to be given different tasks because she is different. Already the latter has happened. The worksheet that came home on Thursday was a sheet of paper with a list of presents our daughter wants. The header of the page has been cut off, and our daughter reported that the Santa’s List part was cut off to make this a birthday gift wish list.
Bleh. Having taught in schools that were neutral to schools that were really good at cultural diversity and anti-bias work, this is a hart pill to swallow.