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19 November 2004: Bah Humbug (4 of 4)

The last reason why I don't teach holidays comes from the firm belief that anything students may learn through holidays can be taught just as effectively (if not more) in other ways. Many teachers use holidays to teach things like tolerance and diversity, for example. In most classrooms in my state, this is a topic that should be addressed every day, not in the context of food and music. Holidays are also a big time for crafts in elementary school classrooms. Since my students have all mastered glue and scissors, I prefer to have instruction in art theory and appreciation, as well as related projects. Last, there is the very powerful force of group incentives. Throwing a spontaneous party because of a good report from a substitute, or allowing students to earn a party through accomplishing a whole-class goal can be an invaluable motivator. When students expect parties just because the calendar says so, I find that everyone's motivation (mine included) actually drops. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying that if you know why you're giving it up, and you can get your students on your side by explaining your reasons clearly, then you can put away that holly leaf pattern once and for all.

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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