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17 November 2004: Bah Humbug (2 of 4)

There are exactly three reasons why I don't allow holiday celebrations in my classroom. First, I acknowledge the limits of my experience, as well as that of my students. There are so many holidays that are celebrated by my students and their families, and I just don't know enough about them to give them all fair treatment. While my students are certainly qualified to teach the class about their own holidays, not all students celebrate any holiday. Plus, some holidays are celebrated by none of my students--so where does that leave us? I feel very strongly that students learn so much more than what we tell them. Spending an hour on a Hannukkah celebration and two weeks on Chrismas pageants, decorations, and parties sends a strong message to students about the relative value of these holidays. The end result is a subconscious hierarchy where students understand that other holidays exist, but they're not as significant as those celebrated by the dominant culture. So, because I know that it is impossible to avoid this kind of message, I'd rather just leave it out altogether.

teaching quote of the day

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.

- Chinese proverb

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