For Santa’s Sake: Teacher Fired!

Dec 10, 2018 by

No sin is so unforgivable as trashing children’s illusions and innocent trust. This taboo is embedded in curriculum, and so we grew up believing that Washington ( or was it Lincoln ) never told a lie.

It opened the doors to an optimistic future while closing the doors to an immutable reality. It allowed us the sweet fruits of gross simplification and the easy-way-out assurances of moral absolutes.  Nobody meddled with our beliefs in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and equal justice under law.

Should “truth in advertising”  require the correction of happy lies we tell our kids, but not concern the government’s intervention when a media sponsor plugs “fruits and veggies in a capsule” as a panacea for everything from brain aneurysms to cancer, congestive heart failure to MS?

If we have “buyers beware” for grown-ups, why not “believer’s beware” for kids?

Teachers played along with parents to keep Santa et al viable. It was a tender conspiracy. But there’s always got to be a spoil sport and one came last week in the form of a substitute teacher.

Her New Jersey school district fired her for taking an opposing view in a forensic debate with kids about whether Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny were actual flesh and blood critters and whether leprechauns were charlatans.

Threats to the survival of the planet can be kicked down the road, but when the teacher told her students that they were wrong, it touched a raw nerve of their parents and created an uproar that led to the axing of the teacher. Now that’s what you get for exposing inconvenient truths!

The teacher was probably not aware of the sensibilities of young kids and perhaps a bit stodgy, naive and uncompromising about the appeal and mandate of the unvarnished truth. Lacking imagination, in other words. But her motive was not to harm kids. She just lacked in that isolated situation, a streak of whimsy that is so helpful with young kids.

Taking liberties is the essence of creative teaching. It’s a dangerous profession, but teachers don’t dispense curriculum like books of stamps at postal windows. The teacher was not abusive. after all.
The teacher’s icon-smashing was bad judgement, but it was not bizarre as is the recent condemnation of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, because of bullying references in the lyrics.

There are so many divisive areas of contention that plague American education these days. We are under-reacting to the perils they pose while over-reacting to anecdotal fluff. Can we do not re-order our priorities?

What would Santa say?

Ron Isaac

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