First of all, I’m not going to enter this discussion without honoring the disruption that this is. Without acknowledging the pain that comes with realizing that the way in which some of us conduct ourselves in the name of Christianity is oppressive. To speak to the harm within our faith publicly doesn’t come without repercussion. Doesn’t come without push back.
What it also comes with is freedom. And I am determined to make my life about getting free in Jesus rather than being bound, so with that….we press forward.
- Your public school classroom is not YOURS.
Our classrooms are shared space, given to us on loan for a season to deliver instruction, build community and offer shelter to the students entrusted to us for that season. Like the old song says, ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.” This world, this work forces us into the intersection of multiple perspectives and life walks. As a Christian, if you’re doing lip service to stripping yourself of your religious privilege by throwing up posters on random holidays and rotating children through ‘Christmas Around the World’ activities…that’s all performative. Anti-oppressive work calls us to examine the ways in which we ourselves are unwilling to self-examine before we attempt to ‘fix’ the circumstances that we might be complicit in.
2. The message of Christmas is not centered around our personal comforts but on others.
And while I’m on this point: Christmas is NOT about elves or Santa or reindeer or gifts. Christmas is about the virgin birth of our Savior who came as a baby to be raised with humanity to some day die on a cross to save humankind from sin and offer us an eternal home with him in heaven if we receive him. Period.
You are NOT teaching Christmas in your public school classroom unless that is the Christmas you are sharing. Since there is such a thing as separation of church and state, many of you have decided that the bastardization of our faith is better than nothing, and will fight people tooth and nail on whether or not Elf on the Shelf is appropriate in a classroom. Elf on the Shelf is not appropriate in your classroom because in many cases in our classrooms its used as a tool of behavioral manipulation. We struggle with the narrative that teaching history authentically is a manipulation already, but since Christianity is the dominant religion and most Christians are bamboozing their kids with Santa and elves anyway…its okay to broadly put this out on other people’s children?
Not everyone shares our faith story folks. In the public school setting, we are servicing so many different children from different family faith walks. Most faiths high holy days are not even in December. They are throughout the year. December in public school should look as it does when students are coming back each fall. Clean, welcoming, and inviting for all is what should be the norm all year.
So what can we do?
If you want to have students learn about cultures and faith, it would be wonderful to ask your students about their celebrations and have them share. If you’d like something more formal, have a parent or even a local religious leader come in and share. As teachers, its important that we model creating and holding spaces for perspectives that our different than our own.