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Teacher who spoiled Santa will not return to school

32 posts in this topic

37 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

I think he's referring to Five Characters in Search of an Exit. 

Yeah, it was either that one or Night of the Meek. It's been awhile. I'd have to go back and look at them.

The point of my anecdote is that you can manipulate curricula to meet your goals, but you have to know what you are doing. I wanted to do a lesson that caused the kids to reflect on what's truly important, and I was able to, in the way I had set up the state standards to achieve my thematic goal(s). This was only a two-day enrichment type lesson, and we were covering other non-Christmasy language arts stories the other three days.

A sub probably isn't well-versed on the curricular standards, unless the sub is a retired teacher who's subbing for extra money. That's why it's so important the subs are trained to follow the lessons verbatim, since the lessons are signed off by the administrator. Those off-task discussions that occur during the lesson where kids ask personal questions have to be kept to a minimum. If that sub had nipped it in the bud and offered to refer the kids to the principal, it would have been over and done with...but of course, the sub lost control, the kids took over, then the kids got hurt by being told the truth, parents got upset, and this whole brouhaha occurred.

But for the district to just make the sub a scapegoat is not acceptable. The district should be saying it made a mistake and what they plan to do to ensure all subs stick to the curriculum. We all know telling kids there is no Santa Claus is not in any elementary school curriculum.

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9 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

That episode didn't have an incinerator, as far as I recall. The dolls were in a collection bin for a charity giveaway, not the garbage.

The ballerina was my favorite.

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23 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

That episode didn't have an incinerator, as far as I recall. The dolls were in a collection bin for a charity giveaway, not the garbage.

Lawrence,

I'd have to go back and look at it. If it wasn't an incinerator, it was definitely something where the presents were no longer being kept. That was the point of it. That what we get, if it's material, has a finite use. 

The kids were so caught up in getting stuff that they would tire of or outgrow. I designed a lesson where they could gain some perspective. I really wanted the ones who were going to get a lot to realize they might be getting things they didn't really want or need. To balance out with the poorer students who would not have such extravagant gifts. Was I teaching "Marxism"...? I think I was teaching language arts with philosophy on a 5th/6th grade level.

When you teach a lesson like that, it's stronger, at least in my opinion, when you have a purpose. Otherwise it's just another story with another batch of characters. I always prefer something where the teacher can advance a more progressive agenda. I did it responsibly. And I had the administrator on side, though I had to manipulate her too. The best part is nobody can go back and un-teach that lesson. And I felt validated when they returned to class in January and they were not bragging about gifts or trying to one-up each other. It felt like a victory.

On another job I worked two years in a Catholic elementary school and most of my lessons were designed to introduce the kids to feminist ideas and push them away from the extreme restrictive patriarchy of the church. I try to go into a place and subvert what I think is incorrect. I don't always succeed, but usually I do. But I don't think I've ever been overtly radical. You try to take the system, enlighten people, get them on side, challenge the falser beliefs and change the system in a way that's positive. At least this has been my approach.

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1 hour ago, NipkowDisc said:

it isn't the place of teachers to encroach on the territory of parents. suppose a conservative teacher told students that evolution and climate change are unproven scientific theories.

:D

Somebody already has-- it was called the Scopes Monkey Trial. LMREO

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Speaking of the Catholic school I worked at, I remember the most controversial lesson I ever did involved a beautiful Native American story I had been taught and learned at some arts conference. I loved that lesson so much because it lent itself to an arts and craft project I thought the children would really enjoy. It was also a way to give them some needed exposure to multiculturalism.

But I remember the principal, she was not a nun, but a lay principal, was very angry with me. She called me into her office and said "where in this story do the people believe in Jesus, Mary and Joseph?" She was basically inferring that all Native Americans are not Christians, therefore a story with Native American characters could not be introduced in a Catholic classroom.

I thought she was off her rocker and walked next door to the parish office after worked ended that day. I went over her head and explained to the priest the purpose of the story and what the kids could gain from it. He liked how it could give them new skills, an understanding of other cultures, and broaden community. So he overrode her. She didn't forgive me for that. But it taught me how crucial education can be in overcoming prejudice and general ignorance.

Going back to the situation with the school back east dealing with "there is no Santa." That was at a public school. Now if a sub went into a religious school and said "there is no God," then I could see how the sub would not be a good fit for the ideologies of that type of schooling, where religious instruction is key. But in a public school, I think they were overreacting and scapegoating the sub whose mistake was basically telling the kids the truth (a truth nobody could handle). 

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36 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

Lawrence,

I'd have to go back and look at it. If it wasn't an incinerator, it was definitely something where the presents were no longer being kept. That was the point of it. That what we get, if it's material, has a finite use. 

I'm pretty sure it's the ending of Five Characters in Search of an Exit you're referring to. The dolls stay in the bin and learn their "meaningless" existence actually has a meaning- love.

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10 minutes ago, Gershwin fan said:

I'm pretty sure it's the ending of Five Characters in Search of an Exit you're referring to. The dolls stay in the bin and learn their "meaningless" existence actually has a meaning- love.

Thanks. I think it's the only time I ever used TZ to teach a lesson. I did use an episode of Hazel to teach a lesson about hard work and values, and it went over well. I selected that one because I knew a lot of the boys in the class considered their moms to be personal maids that were supposed to clean up after them all the time! I wanted them to see how a domestic character makes personal sacrifices for the general good of the family. Shirley Booth always put this concept across so well on screen.

Another really good lesson I did used clips from the movie THE WINDOW (1949). You know, the one where Bobby Driscoll is lying all the time and nobody believes him when he witnesses a crime. They found that one riveting and we had good discussions about lying versus telling the truth, and a character's believability. It was like teaching The Boy Who Cried Wolf, except instead of little kids, this movie is perfect for 5th/6th graders.

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