In recent months I have observed something going on in my daughter's school that I don't like. She's in a pre-school program that we pay for. She should be honing her skills in counting, letter writing, naming colours and shapes. There is no place in her classroom for her to be learning religion of any denomination, and the school itself would have you believe this is the case.
I asked if Missy had done anything in school relating to Easter: coloured and decorated some printed Easter eggs, or coloured a picture of a cute bunny maybe. I didn't think they had, and I was right. Her teacher responded, telling me that because Easter is a religious holiday and the bunny and painted eggs are not practiced by all families (the same way Santa is not recognized by all families), the school doesn't teach about it. They do explain if it is brought up, that some friends celebrate Easter in their family, while other friends have different holidays with their families.
Quite. That's the way I feel it should be - especially with teaching impressionable young three - five year olds in a multi-cultural school. But, this statement isn't quite true. A few weeks ago, we picked Missy up from a play date at her friends house and headed straight out to dinner. On the way, Missy started to tell us about Purim - which is a Jewish festival. She had taken part in a "special event" where one of the other children's mother had come in to the classroom to read a story about Purim, and brought Jewish food along for the children to try. This is the second time that the class had taken part in a learning activity to recognise the Jewish faith. Additionally, right at the beginning of the academic year, her school was closed for Rosh Hashanah - another celebration within the Jewish faith.
My main concern is: why is a multi-cultural school allowing some activities with religious connotations to take place in the first place - and why are they doing it in what seems to be a covert manner. Sure it's great to receive an email after the fact:
"Hey, Parents. The children are doing great with their skills, and look - they tried this Jewish food today, because it's a special day for the Jewish faith."
That would have been great for the children to take part in, of course. They'd be learning about cultural diversity.
So, of course my email enquiring whether they had coloured any eggs should have been met with: "Oh, yes. The children had a wonderful time learning about the Christian faith's special days!"
The same applies to all other faiths. Shouldn't their special days be recognized too? No! That's why the school has a policy! The same one that I quoted verbatim, above. There is no place for religion in a pre-school education. That's what Sunday School or the teachings of the parent is for. If a school wants to do an event like this, I feel they should send a release, seeking parental permission.
Miniman's school has it right. They don't recognise any faith, nor do they close for any holidays apart from the holidays that America recognizes nationally.
While I was christened Church of England, I was raised with Christian values but taught that I could make my own mind up. My family itself does not practice any religion beyond recognizing these holidays and customs we have grown up with. We might have no specific religion but we do respect the beliefs of others. Either my childs school teaches about all or none, like it claims to do. They should not pick and choose to suit them.
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