Thursday, December 08, 2011

How the Teacher Stole Christmas

This from the Huffington Post (video):

Elementary School Teacher, 
Tells Students Santa Isn't Real

It wasn't the Grinch who stole Christmas for a class of second graders at George W. Miller Elementary School in Nanuet, N.Y. Instead, it was their teacher, who allegedly told students there was no Santa Claus during a geography lesson about the North Pole.

"It's outrageous that a teacher would strip a child of their innocence and try and demystify something," Margaret Fernandez, 59, told the New York Post as she picked up her grandchild from kindergarten.

On Saturday, the Post reported that the teacher, 58-year-old Leatrice Ann Eng, had since apologized to the parents of each student in the class in a string of phone calls to the students' homes.

As for any other action that might be taken in response to the incident, district Superintendent Mark McNeill said discussions were ongoing, though he had little else to say.

"This matter is being discussed internally and it would be inappropriate for me to comment further," McNeill told the Journal News.

Last week, the Christmas spirit took another blow when Fox News Chicago anchor Robin Robinson denied the existence of Santa Claus to her cohost, Bob Sirott.

"Stop trying to convince your kids that Santa is Santa," Robinson said on live television. "That's why they have these high expectations. They know you can't afford it, so what do they do? Just ask some man in a red suit. There is no Santa."

After viewers flooded the station with angry emails and phone calls, the anchor later issued an apology during the station's opinion segment, "The Talker."

"It was careless and callous to say ... what I said, in what could've been mixed company," Robinson said. "So many kids don't get to be children, that for those who do get to live the wonder and magic of Christmas, I would never spoil it intentionally. So I sincerely apologize. We have certainly heard how you feel about my mistake, and since The Talker is about opinions: here we go."


Boy Genius said...

What an outrage! How can we allow teachers to teach the truth to our impressionable children? Where will it stop? Will we next allow them to teach that their ancestors were not formed from the dust of the ground 4,000 years ago? I shudder to think of the possibilities!

Amber Whitaker said...

I don't think that it was right for the teacher to tell his student that their isn't a Santa Clause, but then again when put in a situation where you have your young students asking you something like that, what do you say? It is a dilemma.
The teacher should have never brought up anything about Santa Clause while going over the north pole in his geography lesson. I can see why parents were outraged. It can ruin a child's imagination.

Emma Poynter said...

While I don't feel that this teacher should be punished, I do feel that it was wrong for her to tell the children that Santa is not real; especially children that young. I feel that how a family handles Santa is up to the parents. If parents feel that it is time to tell their children that Santa is not real, the parents should be the ones to do so. The teacher did not necessarily have to tell the children that Santa was real, but I feel that she could have gone about it in a different manner. She could have used phrases such as "Whether or not you believe in Santa is your choice" or "Santa is as real as you believe him to be". I heard these types of phrases many times as a young child. They allowed me to make my own decisions about what I believed about Santa and allowed me to choose for myself when I stopped believing. I understand why the parents were upset in this case.

Brandon Hare said...

This really is not as much a shock to me as it may have been to others. I see in today's world the idea of fairy-tales and imagination as something of the past. We see more and more children being expected to act like adults. To back this up with an example from education, I was observing a 5th grade class the other day and the teacher started preaching to the kids about how they would regret things they were doing as a kid when they became adults and how they should grow up! They are 11-12 years old let them be kids. This applies to this teacher who let the Santa secret out. She wanted them to be adults, let them be kids, let them have their imagination for a little while longer.

Anonymous said...

Sorry folks but Santa and Christmas are not part of the curriculum and celebrating religious holidays at public schools is no longer a quaint cultural practice which non Christians are suppose to just endure even though it may run counter to their own faiths and creeds. The teacher should have been teaching common core and national standards as she was hired to do, not trying to debunk myths, offer religious training or proclaiming personal opinions about things which have no relevance to what she is suppose to be teaching.

As a Christian, an educator and an American, I realize that there is an important reason for seperating church and state. Obviously, Santa is more secular than misaligned with the religious celebration of Christmas, but how would this story have been different if it had been a teacher in the same district saying this to a group of high school juniors?

Kyle Wood said...

The teacher was undoubtedly out of line. It should be up to the parent when a child learns that Santa Claus isn't real. The teacher did the right thing toward winning back parents' respect when she apologized.

With technology advancing and children surfing the web at younger and younger ages, its hard to tell how long fairy tales will remain the norm for children. Any child with access to a computer and any bit of curiosity can figure out in less than 5 minutes whether Santa exists or not. I still don't agree with the teacher's actions (or the news anchor's), but their actions may be a step towards the end of fairy tales.

Tiffany Gasaway said...

I don’t think that the teacher should have told their students that Santa isn’t real. I feel that it is up to the parents what their child believes and when they feel that it is time for them to realize myth about Santa Clause. I also feel that this topic should have not been brought up when talking about the North Pole. If the topic had somehow been brought up the teacher could have handled it in a better fashion and where they are allowing the students to believe what they want to believe.

Courtney Young said...

Tradition,tradition, tradition! It is the season to give and to receive, and when we think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to most people’s mind is Santa. Santa is part of our culture. It is not the place for any other person by the parents to tell their child; at what they believe to be age appropriate, that “Santa” is not real; however that there once was a man who went around and gave children toys. As for the anchor woman, every child deserves to have the chance to believe, even if their parents cannot afford the materialistic objects they wish for. The next thing you know, we will be having teacher’s telling students that God is not real, and Christmas is not the celebration of a Savior. It comes down to culture and traditions and the things we believe in and value. The Grinch may have taken Santa away from many students, but within their hearts, they will believe until, however question, in the existence of a man who gives.

Kristi Haydon said...

After reading this article I was quite upset to think some adults are telling small children about there not being a Santa. It’s like telling children there is no Easter bunny or tooth fairy. I believe that the parents of the child should be the one’s who tell the child, not a school teacher that they look up to or a news anchor. It’s not there place to do so. I believe that children should have something to believe in, even if they are not real. If I was one of those parents I would have asked the teacher to tell the class the next day that she lied and she was sorry for telling them that there wasn’t a Santa.

Tyler Jones said...

Looking back at this story, it is completely ridiculous that this teacher took it upon herself to teach her second grade classroom that Santa does not exist. Though the argument could be easily raised that the teacher was doing nothing other than teaching her students the truth, the fact of the matter is however that it was not her place to teach her students such information. In my mind it is fairly obvious that parents don't teach their children about Santa in order to portray factual information, but rather to make the holidays just a bit more special for their children. Under such understanding, I personally cannot see why a elementary school teacher would actively spoil such an innocent tradition for her students, especially considering their age.

Anonymous said...

In reading these comments, I find it ironic that teachers often complain about a lack of support among parents when it comes to doing school assignments (projects, homework, studying) at home, but at the same time some are willing to embrace the idea of teachers not countering parent misinformation. Granted this entire story is a tempest in a tea pot and the teacher should have just ignored the comment/question, but if the parent was teaching the kid that Santa had moved the north pole to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, wouldn't the teacher be obliged to correct this? Surely we aren't expecting teachers to endorse Santa mythology which has its own familial interpretations and practices.

Laura Sullenbarger said...

After reading the article I feel that the teachers actions were uncalled for. It was not the teachers place to tell the second grade students that Santa Claus was not real. The parents should be the ones to choose when to tell their child about Santa Claus. The teacher should have handled the situation in a different manner, especially with students that are only in the second grade.

Erin hisle said...

I used to be a strong believer in "Christmas in School!". However, after learning about how many tricky situations that a teacher can land themselves in so much hot water. I think this is a strong example of why we should say "Happy Holidays" in the classroom. I personally celebrate Christmas, but I know a lot of people who do not and never even once believed in Santa Claus. Santa does not bring your gifts to the classroom, he brings them to your home. This is where the talk of Santa should remain. I do think we should celebrate during the holiday seasons, particularly with younger children. I do not however, feel like teachers should specify which holiday the class will celebrate. This is a strong reminder to us that teachers are put in tough situations and we should be arrange the classroom to avoid conflicts like this.