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."
She had NO authority to do what she did. She should have just read a different story and avoided the "horrible, offensive" material entirely.
Subs have to try to do what lessons plans say.
Is it horrible to stand up for what you bleive in the face of unpopular opinion?
Diddle E. Squat in post 167 analysed the argument well.
I agree. I am a public high school teacher. This sub had no business destroying a child's faith in Santa. Belief in Santa is between the child and its parents.
This teacher believes Santa to be a form of modern religion. She makes a lame case for such a belief. Her take on Santa is not gospel. It's her take. This teacher should never be invited back to sub again.
Parables. Jesus taught in parables
Ding ding ding! Tell him what he's won! Oh, wait, sorry, that's not the right answer. 1 John 15 is not a parable; it is a metaphor.
Santa is not Jesus. Santa is a myth.
And I'm suggesting that perhaps, properly used, Santa is also a metaphor.
"'Twas the Night Before Christmas" is a secular poem designed to promote Christmas as a commercial holiday.
Actually, no, it was not. It is a secular poem, yes. But its author never really intended for it to be so widely read and enjoyed; he wrote it for the sake of his family alone. It has indeed taken on a life of its own, to use a metaphor.
For Christians, Jesus is not a myth. For everyone, Santa is a myth. Yet, the Santa stories are taught to children as if Santa were a god, fulfilling wishes, flying through the air, punishing bad children, and all that sort of diety kind of thing.
I don't know of any Christian who thinks the real God is anything like that silly little cartoon picture you're painting. What you're describing sounds more like that Aladdin cartoon character---or Santa. But not God.
I used to have a friend who was a Seventh Day Adventist, and he always said he wouldn't hype Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy on his kids when he had them, because he didn't want them to think that Jesus Christ was a myth too. Fine, that's his prerogative as a parent.
It was none of this woman's business. If it offends her personal moral code, don't take the job.
"She has abandoned the Godly attributes of grace and moderation by attempting to take on secular humanism on their turf."
"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."
Oh yes they do, my friend. I just heard the story of a man who, when he was young, was told finally that his parents lied to himn about there being a Santa Claus. The then-boy replied, "Dad, when are you going to tell me Jesus isn't real also"?
puh-leeeze... what a crock...self righteous grinches...
THAT WAS A TRUE STORY.
It doesn't matter what she claims she said. It's a matter of fact that the some of the kids went home believing Santa Clause was dead. That's what she taught them. Way to go.
"This sub had no business destroying a child's faith in Santa. Belief in Santa is between the child and its parents. This teacher believes Santa to be a form of modern religion. She makes a lame case for such a belief. Her take on Santa is not gospel. It's her take."
"I never said in my telephone interviews with Mr. Schuyler that I want everyone to agree with my beliefs about teaching, or not teaching, Santa Claus to children. What I said, as I stated in my letter to the editor and evidently need to clarify further, was that 1) what public school is doing by promoting Santa Claus is promoting a form of religion; that 2) religion should not be promoted in public school; 3) a teacher should not be required to promote a religion in public school; and 4) the lesson plan requiring me to promote Santa Claus was imposing religion on me, not the other way around. I certainly am not responsible for, or interested in, making people believe as I do about anything, for that is definitely not my job."
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measure by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest man that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank GOD! He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
...and I have a slightly different approach. You can say yours is the more valuable or correct, and I can argue that mine is.
My point is this: we can argue. As soon as you circumvent me, I'll have a problem with you.
You can argue that by perpetuating the myth of Santa in the classroom, I'm imposing my view on your kid. The truth of the matter is this: you can easily tell your children that Santa is a myth and that it is pleasant for kids to believe the myth-- and that's why they see him in schools. You've thereby innoculated them. If they then tell my kid there is no Santa, it's no big deal-- they're just another kid.
Not so easy for me to do the opposite thing after someone has decided to dispell the myth. It's over. Done. Someone else has taken it upon themselves to be "the parent"-- someone in implicit authority.
THAT'S what this is about.
"she has a deep hatred for children"
On the contrary, she has a deep hatred for telling lies to children.
The point is she had no RIGHT to do this.
It was NOT her business, and she had no authority to do so.
She is messing with OTHER PEOPLE'S decisions about their children.
I suppose, then, that she too would have corrected Jesus when he claimed to be a vine.
You're exactly right.
The point is she had no RIGHT to do this. It was NOT her business, and she had no authority to do so. She is messing with OTHER PEOPLE'S decisions about their children.
"From reply #1
1) what public school is doing by promoting Santa Claus is promoting a form of religion; that 2) religion should not be promoted in public school; 3) a teacher should not be required to promote a religion in public school; and 4) the lesson plan requiring me to promote Santa Claus was imposing religion on me, not the other way around."
IF Santa was only a custom people would not be getting so upset.
Then kids who couldn't care less about your religious beliefs won't be forced to suffer through your pomposity.
If you were my kids teacher and you pulled this crap, I'd make sure you never darkened the door of another public school.
Now, take your self righteous prattle someplace else because quite frankly you're beginning to bore the hell out of me.
On the contrary, she thinks she is a better parent than any other parent and should usurp the authority of parents.
"And, if this teacher was somewhat sane, she would have brought the matter and her concerns up to her supervisor and like has been pointed out numerous times,
1. Not read the poem
2. Got another class assignment
3. Quit and gone home, realizing she didn't have the sensitivity or temperament to teach children"
She has said that probably would have been a better idea in retrospect.
Precisely. In addition, it is the parents who catch the heat for Santa's missteps, not God. Even children know not to elevate Santa to a religious level. This frustrated substitute teacher should take a lesson from the kids.
It sounds to me like she's upset that she can't tell "the rest of the story," so to speak.
While I don't endorse what she did, I can at least relate to where she's coming from. She seems to feel that it is unfair that the "secular religion" of Santa Claus can be taught, but not the true meaning of Christmas.
And while it's not any of her business, or mine, I also don't think it's particularly smart for parents to teach their kids that Santa Claus is real; they can enjoy the Santa myth as a fairy tale/make believe-type thing, without having to believe in his literal existence. Kids may get the message that if you lied to them about Santa, you may be lying about other things (like the existence of God).
"Now, take your self righteous prattle someplace else because quite frankly you're beginning to bore the hell out of me."
And you are free to take yourself to another thread!
"She has said that probably would have been a better idea in retrospect."
She's not very bright, is she?
Ah, this brings up an interesting point. Are we lying to our kids when we say that Christmas is the day Jesus was born? I mean, the truth is, we really have no idea what day Jesus was born. The best guess is that it was sometime in the spring, given that the shepherds were watching their flocks by night, which is something they did only when they were "in season" (the spring).
Do we have to tell our children, then, as soon as they can possibly comprehend it, that December 25th was in fact a strategic choice made by the 4th century church to counter interest in pagan Saturnalia celebrations?
People are getting upset because you are supporting the point of view that substitute teachers can and should adopt the role of the parent. If a substitute teacher, or a real teacher for that matter, told my child I was a liar, I would be having a very heated discussion with the teacher, the principal, the superintendent and the board of education.
Explain why this substitute teacher has more authority over these children than their parents do!
Six and seven year-olds aren't capable of understanding the concept of the commercialization of Christmas, which be worth while discussing with older kids. I'd still like to know what you think about presenting Kwanza as a legitimate holiday, with full discussion of the founder's background and criminal record...to 6 and 7 year-olds.
I don't think she's a liberal.
It sounds to me like she's upset that she can't tell "the rest of the story," so to speak. While I don't endorse what she did, I can at least relate to where she's coming from. She seems to feel that it is unfair that the "secular religion" of Santa Claus can be taught, but not the true meaning of Christmas. And while it's not any of her business, or mine, I also don't think it's particularly smart for parents to teach their kids that Santa Claus is real; they can enjoy the Santa myth as a fairy tale/make believe-type thing, without having to believe in his literal existence. Kids may get the message that if you lied to them about Santa, you may be lying about other things (like the existence of God)."
HURRAY!!!!!! Someboday got it!
Have a great day ruminating, everyone! Gotta go!
Then she and I agree! :-)
That is irrelevant.
Why do you think that it is acceptable for strangers to make decisions about other people's children??
""He sees you when you're sleeping; he know's when you're awake; he knows when you've been bad or good."... gee, that sound like the God you say you believe in."
Bingo Conservatrix. The God of the Bible plainly states that He is a "Jealous God" who does not look at all kindly on ANY object of worship or veneration puny man chooses to put before Him.
Most folks don't realize that the very attributes of God Almighty are being given to this fictional character. We encourage our kids to believe in this jolly fellow and get downright hostile to anyone who takes exception to the promotion of this sweet "harmless" lie...
I also know that the quickest way to get some folks furious at you, to the point of calling YOU filthy names, is to protest and question the "rightness" of allowing our children to believe Santa Claus is a real, historical person. I am not Scrooge. The life, death, and resurrection of The Lord Jesus Christ is precious to me. Celebrating the birth of the Saviour of Mankind is a precious thing. I don't think the myth of Santa Claus is at all precious.
I watched my grandkids "clean-up" yesterday. They received so many really neat presents. I just want them to remember that, originally, all the presents were given TO Him.
That does it!
I have come to the conclusion that YOU are the little miss bimbo that this story is about.
I will take my leave, as I have entertained enough.
Be warned though, that should you and your Jehovah Witnesses approach my door again, I will toss you into the street ... again. ;)
It is part of a school curriculum, it is not a single person telling her to teach it...if she can't cope with following the curriculum, then she needs to quit!
"...take your self righteous prattle someplace else because quite frankly you're beginning to bore the hell out of me."
No, don't, I admire your spirited defense of your/her stance.
But why not tell the unvarnished truth, that Kwanza's founder is a marxist and a criminal teaching college somewhere? Where do you decide enough is enough? That's the point.
It's got nothing to do with Santa Claus. It has to do with a substitute teacher way overstepping her bounds. What would be your response if your child's teacher told your children that you are a liar and that there is a god? Beliefs, regardless of what they are, are not the domain for teachers. This substitute should have just read the poem or let the kids do a word find, but telling the kids that their parents are liars was what inexcusable.
I'm not quite sure what you meant by that, but I will take it in a positive spirit.
Thank you. You nailed it.
These folks are just like liberals...they know what's best for "the children"