Each year at this time, teachers are faced with a dilemma: How to balance the holidays to create the most inclusive environment?
As Hanukkah comes to a close and Christmas approaches, many teachers will decorate with candy canes, glittered Christmas trees and construction-papered dreidels.
But there are more holidays being celebrated this month.
Consider that sundown today begins the month of Muharram, the liturgical new year of the Islamic calendar. Meanwhile, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day on Wednesday. December also marks Kwanzaa, the Hindu family holiday Pancha Ganapati and Yule for pagans. Many secular people either have winter solstice parties or observe no holidays at all.
Maura Cullen, a well-known diversity trainer, suggests that education about religion does not have to wait for the holidays. It can begin as early in the school year as September by teaching students about the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as well as the Islamic Ramadan festival Eid al-Fitr (when it lands in the fall).
“By opening our hearts and minds to all religious traditions, we are serving the greater good and our connections with others grow deeper,” Cullen writes.
Teaching Tolerance has weighed in on the subject previously. You will find helpful information here.
Williamson is associate editor at Teaching Tolerance.