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Teaching And Holidays


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Thanksgiving is an appropriate time to learn about observing holidays in schools.  It is a holiday that is acceptable to many, but not all Americans.  Study or recognition of holidays generally comes under the discipline of social studies.

Teaching about holidays has become a controversial topic in education as the demographic makeup of school populations in American schools becomes increasingly diverse.  Until the last 20 years Christian holidays were observed and celebrated in most American schools, with infrequent mention of Jewish holidays.  Not only has the nation become more diverse, but we have also become more sensitive to beliefs that may differ from our own.  Consider the first statement above.  What groups might find Thanksgiving objectionable?

Some of you will begin your teaching careers in Catholic schools where celebration of Christian holidays is expected.  However, many of you will be teaching in public schools where what is accepted and expected in regard to holidays is completely different.  In order to fully educate students about their diverse world, those of you who teach in Catholic schools will be obligated to teach your students about the holidays and celebrations of groups different than their own.  Teachers must understand that observing and teaching about holidays is entirely different than celebrating holidays.  This becomes complicated because some holidays are purely religious while others are not.  Some are specific to certain religions while others have broader appeal.  Some religions object to holidays altogether.  You might find students from each of these persuasions in a single classroom. 

This said, there are thousands of lesson plans and learning activities about holidays available to teachers on the Internet. 

Below are links to articles about teaching about holidays in public schools.  The last two sites will take you to lesson plans and activities for holidays.  Use these links to complete your assignment. Religion in Public Schools  Religious Holidays in the Public Schools Tips for Planning Religious Holidays in Public Schools Religious Holidays and Public Schools: A Brief Legal Analysis Holidays Around the World and Children Kathy Schrock's guide to holiday activities for teachers

Thanks to Anne's Place for graphic.

 email Dr. Schulz

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