Monday, August 11, 2008

Extremes

I dropped the Blue Jay off at the Pre-school Camp this morning. She is going to be a Junior Leader at the Camp for this week. Something we've tried in the past with varying success. Although she loves being around and playing with little kids, she has on occasion been known to get a little bossy, once telling one of the Camp Counsellors that she was a teacher and they had to let her do her job. Oh well, practice makes perfect ...

She was quite excited (and nervous) to go this morning and on her own initiative she went to hunt up some "little kids" books to share with the pre-schoolers before we left home. Although I commiserated with her because she could only find two, I was actually quite happy as she had only recently allowed us to get rid of such books.

The two she found included one on keeping your teeth healthy and clean and a Clifford, The Big Red Dog book. Seemed like good choices. But when the Blue Jay proudly showed them to the Camp Director, she was told that they could probably only read one of the books to the children. She responded to my questioning look by telling me that they couldn't use the Clifford book, which had a Christmas theme. They "had to be careful because not everybody celebrates Christmas".

After mentally rolling my eyes and stifling a sigh, I casually mentioned that it was funny how times change. I was brought up as Jehovah's Witness and thus, never celebrated Christmas or any of the holidays as a child. But that no one really cared. We simply coloured different pictures or read different books. I neglected to mention to her that at the daily singing of 'O Canada" and recital of 'God Save the Queen' we were told to leave the classroom and wait quietly in the hall. With threats of severe punishment from our parents if we weren't quiet or showed any signs of disrespect.

The funny thing is it never had any effect on my psyche. In fact, the other students often expressed jealousy, they too wanted to go stand in the hallway. And not once did it occur to our parents (or ourselves) to commence a court action or complain about the matter in any way. How ridiculous would that be? After all, it was our (or perhaps more accurately) our parents' choice for us not to participate.

It strikes me that if we are so worried about the feelings of people from other cultures and other religions, we might be doing a better service to all if we attempted to expose our children to the differing religious beliefs, if any, of all the children in the group. What a great chance to learn about something different. But no, we wouldn't want to do that. Instead we will do our best to make our society completely secular.

Or at least that's what we say we are doing ... in reality, the child who ever brought in a book setting out their differing religious beliefs would likely be praised and exalted for the day. Which would be okay with me, if we gave fair time to them all. Including our own.

From one extreme ... to the other ...

7 comments:

doorkeeper said...

But--oh, my goodness!! We'd have to give fair time to that evil, hatefilled religious book...The Holy Bible!

We can't have that--why, it actually labels some things as "sins" and even worse, some as "abominations!" Why, we need to shut up those horrible Christians with their evil rhetoric, they're going to ruin our children!

But, let's celebrate Kwanzaa....

snark

Balancing Act said...

Michelle - I couldn't agree with you more. We find some of the same things here in our schools systems. Apparently by teaching our children that there are different beliefs other than our own is being insensitive. I am a huge believer that if we teach our children that there are many people that believe many different things that there is not one that is more right or wrong but different than our children would grow up being more respectful of each other and not be ashamed of their own. You would think that people in the education field would know better.

You hit a hot button with me - that is for sure.

BTW - you are more than welcome to come but it would be quite the trek for you next year!!

MMC said...

Funny, this topic has got me thinking along the lines of "inclusion" for special needs children at school.

If a challenged child can't read or walk, does that mean it would be "insensitive" for his classmates to engage in those activities? "Why, don't be silly, that's ridiculous!"

Uh huh ... how else can we accomplish the goals of *inclusion* (in whatever context) unless we are all exposed to the activiites and beliefs of others? Not better, not worse, just different ... I do believe we are in agreement, Sara.

About that long trek ... a few years ago, I drove my mom and my kids to Florida. Now you have to be closer than that, don't you?

Kris, in New England said...

It's just ridiculous. God forbid that the little darlings are exposed to something outside their own world.

Sheesh.

MMC said...

Kris,
Or to something that's already in their own world.

I pointed out to the Director that 99.9% of these kids probably celebrate Christmas. She replied "I know, it's ridiculous. They all celebrate Christmas".

neardem said...

Funny how people go so overboard about things. I went to a non-denominational school - We had a subject called Scripture. The Jews,the Catholics, the Protestants and the one Atheist I knew had to study it. We also had to read parts of the Koran and Torah - it was all part of a General Knowledge. We were taught about the Judeo-Cristian background of the West and the main religions in India and China and ... I am grateful. I have congratulated my friends on their Jewish Roshashana and Jewish friends have participated of our Christmas celebrations. I just don't get it ...

PeterGunn said...

"...but, we're INFIDELS, don't you know?"

It's impossible to learn anything of value from us... why, we don't even say, "Allah Akbar", much less believe it.