Group discussions about the content can also be a good starting point for understanding different holidays and faiths. How did these holidays and traditions develop? 2 SPECIFIC ISSUES & QUESTIONS If you click OK, the holidays … The celebration, commotion, and commercialism surrounding Christmas can normally preoccupy many during the holiday season. How to Handle Religious Holidays in Public Schools. Why do we celebrate or acknowledge holidays and traditions? 2. If, however, there is a God who has established days as “holy,” then we should keep those above all others. While some religious holidays always fall on the same day every year, many others depend on lunar calendar. To avoid penalizing students for religious observance, school calendars should be prepared, to the greatest extent feasible, so as not to conflict with religious holidays of all faiths. There is, however, the potential for problems when you discuss religious themes in a public school, like a parent complaining that you are preaching. (...) She then learned that the law allowed her to teach the children traditional carols. Learning about them allows for academic study and discussion about why they exist. Check the box for each country whose holidays you want to add to your calendar, and then click OK.. One answer to this is How to handle religious holidays in public schools, a reference guide in the form of questions and answers from the First Amendment Center. How to Handle the Holidays in a Public School Classroom This blog post will help you plan for a holiday season in your classroom that is both inclusive and educational. There is perhaps no greater example of this than Christmas in the U.S., where Santa and his reindeer are as likely to be discussed as Jesus, whose birth the holiday acknowledges. For years she did not think she could teach her students religious Christmas carols. I teach in a public school that’s about 70% Jewish, by the way, and being Christian puts me in the far minority.” A sincere attempt should be made to avoid scheduling graduation, assemblies, and other special school and student events on religious holidays. Christmas – 25 th & 26 th December bank holidays. Labor has been accused of flip-flopping over a move to require students at South Australian public schools to opt in to religious activities, including Christmas events, rather than opt out. If you would like to volunteer to share a cultural holiday, meal, or celebration with us, please contact me via the signature information below.”. Students can ask questions, and the teacher can participate as well. I became more religious on my own when I was a teenager. Expand the focus beyond North American holidays and traditions. Some observers say it makes more sense for public schools to not honor any religious holidays altogether, instead of choosing certain days off. Hanukkah, for example, receives much attention in schools because usually it falls in December, yet Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are actually "higher holidays" of the Jewish faith. Select holidays and religious celebrations based on your classroom representation. Then ask students questions such as “Who has a sibling?” or “Who has lived in another country?” and have any students with that experience stand on the line. When inquiry is restricted in this way, it's often done to disguise that Christian Christmas is being favored. A sincere attempt should be made to avoid scheduling graduation, assemblies, and other special school and student events on religious holidays. Do not focus on holidays solely in December. Religious holidays are some of the very first holidays that we remember celebrating. Resources for Educators on the Winter Holidays: I usually start with a brainstorming list of questions students can use and leave them on the board throughout the duration of this activity. Do not limit your commemoration to famous leaders and heroes. He usually also burns sweetgrass as part of this activity, and my students have always been interested and engaged in this experience that is foreign to most of them. about holidays in school can broaden children’s awareness of their own and other’s cultural experiences, if they are thoughtfully used as part of a more inclu-sive curriculum about cultural diversity (Derman-Sparks, et al., ABC Task Force, 1989, p. 86). These guidelines are intended to reflect current law in this area, though on some questions there may be no controlling Supreme Court opinion and the lower courts may be divided. Line Game: Use a tape to create a line on the classroom floor. Furthermore, “The topic of this [holidays… As a guideline, employees are generally required to fulfill the following conditions: Employees must give reasonable advance notice to their supervisor in order for another employee to be assigned, if required, to the work being performed by the employee requesting the time off. Teaching about religion is also encouraged in the National Standards for History, published by the National Center for History in the Schools. My mother was raised in a kosher home. It also can leave students with false impressions about the importance of holidays in other faith traditions. Often, students have no idea about the origins of the holidays or traditions they celebrate. Eid al-Fitr – the Festival of Breaking the Fast, marking the end of Ramadan (23 rd-24 th May 2020) 1 The Bible may be taught in a school, but only for its historical, cultural or literary value and never in a devotional, celebratory or doctrinal manner, or in such a way that encourages acceptance of the Bible as a religious document. You know your students learn best when they are engaged and motivated. Do not focus on holidays solely in December. Matthew Yellin is a Social Studies teacher and Curriculum Coordinator at Hillside Arts and Letters Academy , located in Jamaica, Queens, New York. We’ve burned sweetgrass, displayed traditional costumes from various cultures, danced to traditional holiday songs from many areas of the world—and of course cooked and tried many holiday dishes. I’m full of warm and fuzzy memories of holiday celebrations from my time as a student: the annual Thanksgiving dinner in the gymnasium, the Halloween parade of costumes, Christmas concert preparations and presentations, and Easter egg painting. To continue, log into your Teaching Tolerance account. In an effort to be affirming, reflective, and critical about how we approach and celebrate holidays as school communities, we offer a list of resources for educators and families that aims to provide inclusive understanding of religious holidays celebrations and strategies for supporting all students. Clinton directed his education secretary, Richard W. Reilly, to provide every public school district in America with a statement of principles addressing the extent to which religious expression and activity are permitted. Focusing study on such themes and then employing holidays as a vehicle to explore how people of diverse faiths and cultures understand and practice shared values can be useful. How to Teach About Religious Holidays. 10 Questions: Ask students to create a list of 10 get-to-know-you questions, and then allow students to interact with each other. As a result of my invitation through the introductory letter, I have had many parents come forward to share and take part in celebrations with us. In Georgia, legislators vote to include the Bible in a statewide public school curriculum. There are many religious holidays that man has set up in his desire to worship. Because some students and parents may be resistant at first, I send a message home at the beginning of the school year outlining our purpose in celebrating different holidays as part of my general introduction letter. Students gain a more nuanced understanding of the neighboring indigenous traditions by hearing in person from a local leader. Retrieved August 01, 2017, from Lewis, A. C. (2006). Once viewing is complete, you can follow up with a variety of different activities to deepen learning. Religious Holidays in Islam. Although Thanksgiving has been essentially secularized, Christmas and Easter have retained much of their religious meaning. However, one of the functions of the federal, state and local governments and the public school systems is to declare holidays. For example, after viewing, I will ask students to write a paragraph about an element of the film. I usually include a section that reads: “We are excited to learn about each other’s families, cultures, holidays, and celebrations throughout the school year. Identity Collage: Students can create and present a visual collage that represents their ancestry, religion, and family. influence of religious groups on social reform movements to the religious revivals, from the rise of Christian fundamental-ism to the expanding religious pluralism of the 20th century. And, in order to foster religious tolerance and competence, students need to understand the religious purpose behind the practices. Three of them have significant religious connotations: Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as many state constitutions, it is illegal for employers to take discriminatory actions towards their employees because of their religion. September 16, 2002. They recommend workshops for educators regarding the appropriate place of religious holidays in the schools. Also remember, encouraging or compelling students to participate in religious activities like prayer is never OK. School phases: All Make sure you know how to handle requests for absence from both pupils and staff during religious events. Develop policies about the treatment of religious holidays in the curricula and inform parents of those policies. When I get more diverse classrooms, I do my best to celebrate more prominent holidays, learn about ones that would be new to most of my students, and at least share a quick video or do a small activity to acknowledge them. Teachers can also complete and present this activity. The Education Digest, 71(5), 69-70. Religious Holidays in Christianity. Employees may request to observe such religious holidays without pay. Simple strategies such as inviting students to dress a certain way, create a piece of art, share food, sing a song, or write something related to the holiday or tradition can help students appreciate others’ holidays and traditions. They warrant decoration and festive dress and often come with a set of rules that we abide by for the sake of the day and our faith. This article discusses a similar approach to the one we teach in our "Building an Equitable Holiday Approach" workshop. Finding simple ways to celebrate different holidays in the classroom can create a culture of inclusion and deepen understanding. It also creates a platform where students can ask questions and break down stereotypes. Religious holidays. Public schools may not teach religion, although teaching about religion in a secular context is permitted. Employers who discriminate against their employees on the basis of religious beliefs may have to face serious legal consequences. Buddhists serve vegetarian dishes because they believe all beings are afraid of injury and death, and hurting or killing animals is wrong (Dhammapada 129). A few years ago, a (...) 1. music teacher in a school near Grand Rapids, Mich., told me (this...) story. I invite a local indigenous leader to my classroom to share about his traditions and oral creation stories. Here are some ideas to help you highlight multicultural and religious holidays appropriately, and select the right activities and materials: Recognize various talents and accomplishments when focusing on people. If a country's or region's holidays are already added to your calendar, the box for the country is checked in the Add Holidays to Calendar dialog box. When I get more diverse classrooms, I do my best to celebrate more prominent holidays, learn about ones that would be new to most of my students, and at least share a quick video or do a small activity to acknowledge them. 3. Inviting leaders of different faith traditions to the classroom to share their experiences can be a personalized way to improve understanding. Strategies in classrooms and schools allow teachers to navigate any holiday or special event respectfully with academic benefits as well. Below is a list of religious holidays for the world’s major religions. Holidays are stressful enough, but if you’re a non-believer—or even a liberal Christian—with right-wing Christian relatives, things can be even harder. Often, students will require example questions to get them started. This schedule shall reverse for the even numbered years.” Can Employees Take Time Off from Work for Religious Holidays? My father was raised in a religious Catholic home in Puerto Rico. Use the multi-faith calendars available from Harvard's Pluralism Project and the BBC to create a yearlong schedule of high holidays to include as part of classroom study. If you don't have an account. He considers himself more spiritual than any kind of religion. These guidelines titled "Religious Expression … Also, find links to calendars of celebrations to keep on top of when you might see absence requests. Although it can be fun to reenact particular cultural traditions related to holiday observances -- serving vegetarian dishes associated with Buddhist holidays, for example -- such activities must serve an academic purpose. avoid penalizing students for religious observance, school calendars should be prepared, to the greatest extent feasible, so as not to conflict with religious holidays of all faiths. The school could also place requirements on students’ religious dress in terms of colour and fit with the existing uniform. Editor’s note: The following section on religious holidays contains consensus guidelines drafted and endorsed by a broad range of 17 religious and educational groups. Holidays that create a 3-day weekend because of Monday school and office closings are often good opportunities for short trips and other events. Knowing and learning about classmates’ and teachers’ cultural backgrounds, religions, families, and traditions at the beginning of the school year reduces fear and increases empathy. How to handle the holidays is a tricky topic for many schools. Each pair of students then introduces their partner to the class. Whatever method of celebration you choose, the fact that you are stopping your regular classroom activities to show respect to all holidays and traditions celebrated by your students creates an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. I grew up in a home that wasn't kosher and only went to shul on the high holidays and special occasions. “In odd numbered years, Wife shall have the first half of the Christmas break from school and Husband shall have the second half of the break from school. But while over 90% of people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, with over two-thirds having somewhat or strongly religious observances, it’s important to recognize—especially in the workplace—that there are non-Christian festivities also taking place at … Offer pre-service and in-service workshops to assist teachers and administrators in understanding the appropriate place of religious holidays in the schools. Ramadan – 9 th month of Islamic calendar, lasting 30 days (23 rd April – 23 rd May 2020). In today's commercialized world, it's also important to distinguish between religious and secular traditions. Become familiar with the nature and needs of the religious groups It’s when teachers try to give their opinions or influence others that it’s not okay. Films are not the only mechanism for fostering better understanding. Although it's desirable to examine secular traditions that relate to holidays, students should understand the difference between secular and religious meanings. Public school teachers have the power to tear down these walls and to use religious topics to help us better understand ourselves and each other. The BBC's Directory of World Religions offers useful fact sheets about numerous holidays. “I tell them what I believe in,” says teacher Kirk H. “I see it as a personal fact, and therefore okay. Holiday celebrations and traditions are often the most exciting part of the school year for kids and teachers, but how do we navigate holidays and traditions while creating a classroom that is inclusive and respectful? One route is to be honest but brief about your own religious identity. And in New York, officials prohibit the scheduling of standardized tests on religious holidays, after protest over a statewide exam held on a Muslim holy day. by Eric Buehrer. If you’re learning about a variety of holidays and traditions around the world that have specific celebration dates, they should be celebrated in your classroom the same way you would celebrate traditional North American holidays and traditions. My favorite way to expand our focus is to start with a History Channel video about holidays and traditions from a variety of cultures and religions. When inquiry is restricted in this way, it's often done to disguise that Christian Christmas is being favored. School diversity. A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center ©1991-2020. Focus on a holiday's origins, history and general meaning, as well as how and when they are observed. The exchange of the Minor Children shall take place at noon on the middle day of the break. I find that they are short and engaging, and often come with activities and resources for teachers. 1. It also can leave students with false impressions about the importance of holidays in other faith traditions. The Board of Education for the Montgomery County Public Schools, in a vote of 7 to 1, chose to remove all religious named holidays from the calendar. Students are allowed to miss school for religious holidays; but, the Muslim community felt this was not enough. The holidays of many world religions share thematic elements, such as peace, thankfulness, forgiveness and caring for others. Select holidays and religious celebrations based on your classroom representation. Edutopia® and Lucas Education Research™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries. Religious holidays occur throughout the year. (n.d.). The students can still be required to comply with all other aspects of it. Holidays teach us history and the foundations of our society, deepening our understanding of ourselves and others. Easter – Good Friday & Easter Monday bank holidays (10 th & 13 th April in 2020). 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