Skip to comments.Teacher defends "Santa" remarks (Full, unedited statement)
Posted on 12/26/2005 8:11:14 AM PST by Conservatrix
To the Editor:
"Last week I substituted at a local elementary school in Lebanon County. The lesson plan required me to read the 1882 poem The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore to two classes of students. While I can appreciate the poem for its literary value, the subject matter is offensive to me, and the reading of this poem to the children imposed values upon me which are against my deeply held religious beliefs. I could not in good conscience present the notion of Santa Claus as a truth to the children, and stated so.
No public school teacher should be required to teach a belief, or custom, or religion that he or she believes to be false, or be required to pass those purported falsehoods onto impressionable children, without the right to state a disclaimer. Furthermore, freedom of speech and religion, no matter how unpopular the speech or against cultural norms the religion, are protected rights under the Constitution of the United States. A secular public school should not be propagating any kind of religion. The belief in Santa Claus as a divine, magical, omniscient, powerful, giving, loving father-figure, to which children are taught to make supplications and requests, is a religion indeed-- a distorted substitute for the Judeo-Christian God; a false form of Christianity; a zealously-protected American idol.
In presenting the poem, I gave the children quick historical background about the Santa Claus myth-- its evolution from the historic Nickolaus, Bishop of Myrna in Asia Minor, who died in 343 A.D., to its amalgamation with ancient Western pagan traditions of German, Scandinavian and Dutch origins, to the current manifestation in the secular Christmas culture of today. (Dutch children, for example, would put their wooden shoes out at night for Sante Klaus to fill with candies.)
The current Santa Claus figure was popularized in the late 19th Century by artist Thomas Nast of Harpers Weekly Magazine, who depicted Saint Nick, not as an elf, but a rotund, pipe-smoking man in a red and white suit. This is the deity to which countless public school children today are taught to make supplications, and about whom they sing their many songs at annual public school Christmas programs.
If people are upset about the revelation to children that Santa Claus is a myth-- which all children who are taught this lie find or figure out eventually-- perhaps it is because Santa is that zealously-guarded idol of their own modern religion. Therefore, as a religion, let Santa be kept out of the public school classroom (no more Dear Santa letters to line those school hallways)--or perhaps, in the interest of diversity, make his mythical, oversized personage share equal representation in literature, and song, and Christmas programs, with the other Person of the season: the Lord Jesus Christ, God made flesh, God with us."
1. No sane, rational adult truly believes that the figure "Santa Claus," as described in contemporary culture, actually, ontologically, exists. None, zero, not one. NOBODY believes in a figure living in the North Pole, working with elves and flying reindeer, monitoring the works of all children omnisciently, creeping down chimneys each 12/25 to reward the good. Nobody, not one person.
So, I guess the result of all this deception is exactly what it's meant to be: a harmless fantasy that makes millions of children happy every year, and is eventually replaced by reality-- in all cases.
So, what again is your problem with the myth?
When your children first asked where babies came from, did you immediately fill their heads with the complex and wonderful concept that is sex? ...or did you do what the majority of parents do, and simply say that they come from Mommy's tummy?
When trying to make them careful to not talk to strangers, did you immediately launch into a dissertation on the varieties and symptoms of mental illness, sexual deviancy, and social constructs, or did you simply do what the majority of parents do, and simply say that there are "bogeymen" out there?
I don't suppose your children get small coins under their pillows in exchange for a wrapped-up tooth either, do they?
I prefer to allow children to have their fantasies, both positive and, where appropriate, negative until they're better able to handle the real world.
All I ask is that, if someone has a problem with my method of child-raising, they either come to me or keep their mouths shut. I'd prefer they not circumvent me and take it to my kids directly.
It's that simple.
The problem was the age of the kids. If they'd been older, fine.
"Kids never pay attention to the substitutes."
They rarely pay attention to much in public schools. Check thenational public school reading and math scores against homeschoolers lately?
A lot of conservative Christians oppose the entire Santa Claus myth specifically because it masks the true meaning of Christmas.
I am one of them. When I had my children, I NEVER taught them that nonsense. There was a church I went to where the pastor even taught against telling children about Santa Claus. I believe MANY churches do so your observation that a lot of conservative Christians oppose Santa because of the reason you stated is absolutely true.
So, what do we have here: A bunch of the same people who were decrying the "War on Christmas" slandering a woman who is pointing out that Santa is not a deity, nor is Santa real.
"Twas the Night before Christmas" makes no mention of Jesus' birth. It doesn't mention the reason Christmas is celebrated at all. It's a strictly secular poem. It's about gifts and that sort of thing, and venerates a mythical character that distracts from the real story of Christmas.
I'm an atheist, and don't believe in the divinity of Jesus in the first place, but I'd like to see some consistency from those who do. Santa and this poem are purely secular, as presented here.
You want the "War on Christmas?" The commercial use of Santa Claus is at the heart of it. "The Night before Christmas" has nothing to do with Christianity, nor with the reason Christmas is celebrated.
Never thought I'd find myself agreeing with an atheist but HERE! HERE! And AMEN to that!
This broad really does take herself WAY too seriously.
In fact, I think she either has a very warped view of the world or is intentionally using hyperbole to strengthen the weakness of her argument.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!
"This substitute teacher is a good example of the undereducated product of our liberal colleges. These young women have earned teaching degrees so they can go into our public schools and tear down American traditions. When they are not eroding American traditions, they are giving our adolescent boys hands-on learning experiences in sexual education."
She does not believe in sex-ed in public schools. She is a conserative, Bible-believing Christian, and a republican. She has two degrees in music, not elementary ed. She is hoping to find a job in a conservative, Bible-believing Christian school so this kind situation does not have to happen again!
I have no idea if you have children or not. If so, make sure you never take them to watch a magician or, to a puppet show. To a child a penny vanishing from a person's hand is real. A puppet on strings dancing on a stage is real. How awful is that? My children believed in Santa, magic, tooth fairys and puppets. And best of all, they enjoyed every minute of it.
They still believe in Jesus.
I believe this teacher when she says it would go against her conscience to present the lesson as given. Too bad she couldn't express her reservations to her superiors first, and ask for opportunity to present a different lesson or ask to be relieved.
One does not need to be so anal about teaching the difference between imagination and reality, especially with young children. To take a well-known poem rooted in history and fantasy and attempt to seriously relate (or interpret) it for six-year-olds is to treat them as adults.
Meanwhile I'm curious as to how speaking positively about abortion to six year-olds relates to a simple reading of "The Night Before Christmas." Pangs of conscience over reading an imaginary poem to six-year-olds? Give me a break!
You're picking a fight where there's no enemy. We were discussing Santa as a myth, not a god.
It's unfortunate that you lack the imagination to encompass both the fantasy and the reality-- especially as they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
My child believes in both. In the end, he will only believe in the important one. In the meantime, he may be slightly happier than your children.
...unless you and Mr. Martin have your way.
It is obvious that you have a wire crossed somewhere. Santa is not being written as a "God like" figure, but rather as a giver of joy and happiness in a child's mind. If anything, Santa is seen by children as a melting pot of kind, gentle folks (like Grandpas, Old Uncles, and nice men in a child's mind) who have made the child's life a little bit better. Ever notice that when you smile at a child they will usually stop what they are doing and wave at you or smile back? That is Santa, my friend, and nothing else.
If you are speaking about me personally, I do not have a tooth fairy and I did teach my children about sex in a way that young ones understand. They don't have an Easter Bunny either but they do know about a resurrected Jesus on the day of Resurrection.
God or Santa?
God or Jesus?
God or the tooth fairy?
God or the Easter Bunny?
Many to you these are small thing that aren't important but to some who love Jesus with their whole hearts, an idol is an idol, not matter how accepted culturally.
We dont use Santa as a God. Did I say that Jesus and Santa were the same person, or that they are friends? And for your information, I read my bible quite often.
Have you seen the verse that says "For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" That includes you! "ALL" is very specific...isn't it!
Did you know that once you have accepted the Sacrifice that Jesus paid for your sins, all your sins...past, present and future... are forgiven - washed away by his blood on the cross at calvary.
If she's got such firm religious convictions she shouldn't even be working for a public school.
She's also got a tremendously inflated sense of her own self importance.
I did. A very simple solution was available to this teacher, but the busy-body declined to take the truly principled stand. She should have declined to read the poem and done something else instead.
I was a substitute teacher for many years and routinely had to change up the lesson plans for various reasons, as all subs do on occasions. This teacher is using this cause to be a martyr, IMO. She passed on the sensible soloution and has found herself neck deep in a controversy that she alone created.
I would have lauded her if she would have refused to "teach" the "lesson plan". She didn't. She taught the exact opposite.
That's what we're all upset about.
That is such laughable paranoia. Santa is being brought up as an innocent fun tradition, there is no secret intent on the school's part to replace God with Santa. BTW, are the stories with the fictional characters in 'Veggie Tales' similarly promoting a form of idolatry?
Maybe it would be wise to reread what Jesus said about the Pharasees. Playing the Santa game with kids equates to lying similarly to the way healing on the Sabbath equates to breaking commandments.
"That is Santa, my friend, and nothing else."
1. Santa sees you when you are sleeping.
2. Santa knows when youa re awake.
3. Santa knows when you have been bad or good.
4. Santa gives you presents at Christmas.
4. Santa is all over the world at once giving things to children everywhere.
5. You ask Santa for things.
Sounds like a religion to me. THINK ABOUT IT.
Is there any doubt in anyone's mind that she has told these youngsters that the US invaded Iraq to get their oil?"
No, she did not. She voted for George Bush and is a conservative republican Christian.
***Yeah, I bet she IS because she says so. She talking the leftist/atheist argument right down the line. (Key and code words) Therefore proving two extreme opposing lines extended into infinity meet finitely at a single vortex - syntheized.
You personally know the TEACHER who imposes her belief over the school's curriculum? You'd vouch with your life for her?
Agreed. How many other 'myths' in the guise of teaching literature have we endured in school? We read the Iliad etc. and we know the gods within are not real. Would this teacher also have a cow over the teaching of these? Further, a child receives gifts at Christmas - from Santa Claus. These free gifts are direcltly related to the FREE gift of redemption which derives from Christ's birth on Christmas. But how many 6 year olds are ready to grasp or can understand this? How does a 6 year old grasp the Resurrection or the Holy Trinity? What do they know of life and death? Santa Claus is our culture's transition point for young minds to appreciate gifts and giving. In my faith, children are ready to make the decision to be baptised at the age of 13. Similarly, in the Jewish faith, young men are Bar Mitzvahed at 13. NOT before. Is there are reason that they wait so long for this? I believe so. But until then, Santa is just fine.
While I can appreciate the poem for its literary value, the subject matter is offensive to me.
One the better humor threads of 2005.
When you say 'she,' you are referring to this substitute teacher who told the children their parents were lying to them?
And she takes it out on the kids.
I'm not saying you would end up changing your mind as a result of the article. But you might back off your pathetically holier-than-thou attitude about the contrary view.
Uh, I believed until I was 7 or 8. My daughter just found out at 8, and she is one of the only kids in her class. Kids LIKE to believe in Santa and don't easily give it up.
That said, I DO kind-of have a problem with Santa in the public schools and that is that they keep the "fun" parts of Christmas and totally disassociate it from the religious. My daughter attended public school for one year and the principal told them that there were giant gingerbread men roaming the school at night, leaving notes for the kids and etc. I had one heck of a time convincing my daughter that was made-up BS.
You fulfill parts of my prediction as to responses exactly. Your point is always made in defending the Santa-lie, and is so easily answered that one wonders as well at its tenacity.
So what, in anything that I actually suggested, hinted that I think that children should always be told all possible details about every area of life in the first conversation?
And is it really true that, in your thinking, you only have two options -- lie to children, or tell them everything that can be told about everything in your first conversation on the topic?
And, finally, to answer your question: I never lie to my children. Never. And they have an exceptionally rich fantasy life. I just teach them that some things are fun make-believe, some things are true, and there is a crucial difference.
"Santa is being brought up as an innocent fun tradition, there is no secret intent on the school's part to replace God with Santa."
Incorrect point. #1. To some people, telling chidlren to belive in someone who sees them when they're sleeping, knows when they're awak., who can read their prayers in a letter and answer them, is not "innocent fun"' it is a type of religion and idolatry to Christians.
#2. Schools may not be replacing God with Santa but they are teaching children to treat him as if he were some kind of god.
BTW isn't Christmas the TRADITIONAL time of celebration the birth of the Savior of the world?
Less paying attention to their teachers would tend to raise those scores, IMO.
My 9-year-old's teacher didn't have a problem with Santa Claus, but when it came time to teach multiplication she taught them about the Tin Man and the Magic Zero. I sat in on a lesson because my normally bright child was having so much trouble learning multiplication and when we worked together at home he was thoroughly confused.
After hearing what his teacher was teaching him, the Tin Man and the Magic Zero crap, I told him to just forget it all and I'd teach him. Now he's got it. ;-)
People are free to believe what they want. And if there is a family out there who believes that Santa Claus is god, it is not up to a substitute teacher to decide to tell children he's not. Read the poem, draw the check for filling in for a day and keep your beliefs to yourself.
How is this different from an atheist substitute teacher announcing to the kids that God isn't real and Jesus didn't rise from the dead? After all, that's what an atheist substitue would believe.
As luck would have it it is online.
Where do you get the idea that she was forced to teach this assignment? She was asked to read a poem. She had options. 1. read it; 2. ask for an alternate assignment; 3. ask for a different class. There are always several substitutes in a school on any given day.
The option she did not have was to force her religious beliefs on six year olds.
Gee, do I detect a serious issue of liberal narcissism here?
Why is this not surprising? Why is it that whenever somthing good is celebrated, a minion like this has to spew bile all over it?
This witch is evil.
I once had an art teacher in high school (1981) that regularly put up a small Christmas tree in her classroom. She unilateraly quit doing so because one student disagreed - she was never bitter over the issue; however, she always wore red and green during the Christmas season ;-)
Why do you insist Santa's taught as a God substitute? Isn't that a stretch? And it's scary, too. I'd stand in line right beside you in the matter of commercialization of Christmas and the fact that radio stations start in around Thanksgiving, ramming Christmas carols and especially the nauseating 'Santa Baby' down our throats for more than a month. As for small kids, perhaps you have a point and some fantasize about Santa being right up there with Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but in the long run isn't that a matter for parents to straighten out?
You seem to know an awful lot about this teacher. Do you also live in the south central PA region? (where Lebanon, PA is located)
I see you never got an answer to your question...I hope this doesn't surprise you.
Merry Christmas...even though it is a day late.
Here is the substance of her ignorance: Not knowing or caring about the emotions of young children. Pure ignorance. And a bit sadistic besides.
Man, she would have had a heck of a time with Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.
"December 2005 Touchstone magazine, in which one of the authors gives a defense of allowing children to believe in Santa Claus as children. It's intelligently written"
It may be well-written but Christian are supposed to have no other gods before the Lord God.
Well, she's prettier than most substitutes. My son described his last substitute teacher as a "hag."
You seem to know an awful lot about this teacher. Do you also live in the south central PA region? (where Lebanon, PA is located)
Yes, we know each other.
Obviously you have no interest in a defense of the dissenting point of view. What a prideful shame.
I tried the same argument in 4th grade about Vachel Lindsay's "Congo"... it didn't get very far.
"As for small kids, perhaps you have a point and some fantasize about Santa being right up there with Jesus and the Holy Ghost, but in the long run isn't that a matter for parents to straighten out?"
Yes, indeed, and it is not something that people should have to teach in a public school as a truth.
You sound like the kind of person who would have raised his hand at the Last Supper, when Jesus declared "I am the true vine", and said, "Uh, no, Jesus, I must correct you: you are a human being, and you are God, but you are most certainly not a vine."
THOUGHT ABOUT IT.....and you are incorrect, but thanks for reminding me to avoid folks like this "teacher" in the future