Teaching About Christmas?

Posted by Nancy Callan on 16 December 2012 | 0 Comments

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Imagine you are teaching abroad for a year in the country of Slavarnia, spending part of your time in classes learning the language of Slavar. It's not a real country so follow along with this hypothetical example. The biggest holiday of the year is called Glistin. Stores close and there are two statutory holidays associated. Hallmark has commercialized Glistin significantly, creating a large gift giving fairy as the main character. But actually, the roots of the holiday are religious. When the subject of the holiday comes up in class, you read and played games centred around the Hallmark fairy, but learn nothing about the historical and religious origins of the holiday. Apparently, the school is concerned about religious proselytizing and so keeps the focus on the secular aspects. As a result, you remain in the dark about half of the holiday's significance. You have no interest in converting your religion, but just want to understand what is behind the holiday.

How would you feel? 

Aside from actively teaching respect for other cultures, races, genders, and the environment, we leave our personal biases and religious beliefs out of the classroom. I don't believe teaching about the historical origins of Christmas, if done with the same mindfulness with which we approach other subjects, need be seen as proselytising. I've been teaching the story of Jesus' birth to adult ESL students for decades and make sure before I start the lesson to explain that we are studying the historical context of the holiday and that many people celebrate Christmas in an entirely secular way, too, so this is just for information. These lessons have always been met with interest. 

Callan's Holiday Jigsaws 1 and 2 and Callan's American Holiday Jigsaws 1 and 2 all have the story of Santa and the story of Jesus. You can choose to use one or both of these jigsaws. And if you are looking for something completely different for the holiday season, you could also teach The Gift of the Magi jigsaw, found in Callan's Thematic Jigsaws 1 and 2

Happy Holidays!

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