• Thu, Dec 6 2012

Kindergarten Teacher Ruins Christmas But Gains Permanent Place On Naughty List

Childhood is supposed to be a magical time where you get to play make-believe, act like a superhero, look for fairies in the garden, leave out carrots for The Easter Bunny and believe in Santa Claus. That is unless your 5-year-old attends class at Austin’s Pease Elementary school, where a classroom of students were told terrible lies by a terrible teacher who obviously has no idea that her teaching duties don’t include sucking all the magic out of childhood in one fatal fun-suck. From The Houston Press:

Late last week, a five-year-old girl came home from Austin’s Pease Elementary school with a question for her dad.

 

“Daddy,” she asked her father, “Is Santa real?”

Dad said yes, and wanted to know why his daughter asked.

“Because Mrs. Fuller” — the girl’s afterschool teacher — “said he wasn’t real. She said ‘None of you believe in Santa do you?’ and said that you and mommy buy all our presents and put them under the tree. She said that you should tell us the truth.”

The teacher had decided to educate the kids after one of the children drew Santa Claus during an assignment to draw something “real” and something “imaginary.” Because this kid had drawn Santa for his “real” drawing, the teacher took it upon herself to ruin Christmas for all the kids in class.  How families celebrate Christmas and whether or not families include Santa Claus in their celebrations is something that is personal to a family, and not something that a teacher should feel is her or his place to comment on.

I’m all too painfully aware of how fast kids grow up. If a child wants to believe in Santa or fairies or Godzilla or Batman or any other mythology it should be a parent’s decision about how they want to handle it, not a teacher who has no business educating students on the existence of Santa Claus. If I were a parent with a student in this class I’d be angry too. One mother wrote on her Facebook page:

“Another adult has no right to submit their own beliefs on a group of 5 year olds and their families – about Santa, God, politics or whatever – especially phrased ‘your belief is not right.’” She says another parent spoke for many when he said in an email that circulated among them that it was vital for kids to make those kinds of discoveries on their own, as they matured.

The mom emailed a complaint to the principal, who told her that she has reprimanded the teacher and given her the “tools to deal with this situation” in the future.

I hope the “tools” this teacher was given included a book on childhood development and how imagination is an integral part of the world of a 5-year-old and a big bag of naughty-list coal.

(photo: Aliaksei Lasevich /shutterstock)

Share This Post:
  • Jenn

    Although I don’t think the teacher should have spilled the beans on santa, I don’t think she should be “reprimanded” for telling the truth. I had to learn very young because I was afraid of santa. Knowing it was an illusion and that it was someone dressed up eased my mind.

    Of course until I heard about John Wayne Gacy and how certain adults dress up to gain kids’ trust. but that’s another issue.

    • JLH

      I assume your parents were the ones who told you Santa wasn’t real. Not your kindergarten teacher. Would you be as willing to let her go if one of the kids asked about babies and she told the entire class exactly how children are conceived? There are certain things that are explained by age level. As a teacher of 5 year olds I would assume that she should have had better skills in handling the situation. She crossed the admittedly thin line (for that age group) of being teacher/parent. She wasn’t fired. She was reprimanded. Which means she was called into the office told she effed up and told to keep her trap shut. Hardly the end of the world for a woman who decided her way was better than the parents of 30 students.

    • Leigha7

      I would be THRILLED if an elementary school teacher taught their students (in an appropriate manner) where babies come from. That’s something I feel everyone should know. I certainly knew it when I was five, and I’m no worse off for it. I remember one of my friends in high school saying her mom didn’t even talk to her about puberty (admittedly not quite the same, but related) until she was 13–three years AFTER she got her period, so…helpful. I will never understand why parents try to keep their kids in the dark about those sorts of things.

      For the most part, I feel like if a kid is old enough to think to ask about something, they’re old enough to be given an honest (if simplified) answer.

  • jsterling93

    There are lots of “Truths” that 5 years old don’t need to hear so I do think she needs to be reprimanded. There are some people who should not work with small children. I will never forget my sister being called to my nephew’s school when he was 5. His teacher wanted to talk to her because my nephew was running around the play ground pretending to be a TRex and she was worried he didn’t grasp reality. She apparently thought “make believe” was harmful to children.

  • Jessie

    When I was running an after school program this was always one of THE MOST stressful times. The older kids who were starting to figure it out were hard to control and monitor, I always felt like a secret agent on high alert running from one group of kids to another diffusing potential truth bombs and landmines before they exploded. I know kids find out one way or another – but as long as it wasn’t on my watch (leading to angry emails, calls, and conversations) – I was okay with it. Santa might not be real – but disappointed kids and angry parents sure are.

  • Donna

    Get over it! My children have never believed in Santa, it is such a ridiculous thing to tell your children. Yes my kids they still get their pictures with santa every year, but lying to them to “build” imagination is a load of bull.

    • alice

      if a child experienced a death in the family and was consoled by being told that the deceased was now “living with angels in the sky” would you still be so incensed?

      would you sit that child down and frankly explain how their loved one was NOT living with angels but in fact rotting in the ground somewhere? i don’t think so.

      imagination IS important, to a lot of people, not just children. one would expect that a kindergarten teacher would understand that.

    • CMJ

      You have every right to not tell your kids whatever you want. That does not, however, give you the right to determine what every other parent should tell their child.

      The teacher should have known better than to even bring it up.

    • Ordinaryperson

      Booooo, I’m glad you’re not my mom. Also, why would you bother to get your kids pictures taken with Santa if he holds no special meaning to you or them? I think you’re right weird.

    • Leigha7

      You can know Santa isn’t real and still have fun pretending. I never believed in the tooth fairy (thanks to a certain episode of Full House), but I still put my tooth under my pillow and still ran downstairs in the morning to exclaim how much money I’d gotten, as if they didn’t already know.

      I don’t feel comfortable with lying, so I doubt I’m going to try to make my kids believe Santa is real. But I fully intend to have him be part of the holiday regardless. Why not? It’s fun. (I will make sure they know better than to spoil the fun for kids who *do* believe, though.)

  • Shea

    I kind of doubt that Christmas was “ruined” for the kids (my older cousin told me that Santa wasn’t real when I was 6, and I don’t remember being traumatized in the least. I still loved Christmas!) but the teacher shouldn’t have taken it upon herself to shatter the kids’ illusions. That’s the job of other kids :-p.

    I suppose if a kid asked the teacher outright if Santa was real or not, the teacher could either tell him/her to talk about it with his/her parents, or go the “Yes, Virginia” route. I don’t particularly like the idea of flat-out lying to kids about Santa (in the case of teachers or parents) but it sounds like this teacher went out of her way to make sure the kids realized Santa was a myth. Not cool.

  • Mark

    I disagree. If a parent is allowing his kids to believe in any mythology over reality, it’s not anybody else’s responsibility to foster that lie. Nobody should be compelled to just “let” people believe in whatever they want to believe. We don’t do that with nut-jobs in mental hospitals do we? No! We tell them all that shit is imaginary. If a child believes in monsters, you don’t see the parent saying, yes the boogey man is real, don’t let your feet hang over your bed! Set realistic expectations – so instead of spending half of a childhood awkwardly learning the truth, he has the truth all along, and has a better grasp on reality and can focus on expanding his knowledge base that’s grounded in truth.

    • whiteroses

      It is a teacher’s responsibility to let children believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, or the ghost of Moby Dick if the parents haven’t informed their children of the facts yet. For someone who teaches a class full of five year olds, she showed remarkably poor judgement. The difference between Santa and monsters under your bed is that Santa doesn’t live among dust bunnies and try to kill you when you sleep. Kids grow up too quickly. It’s not a teacher’s responsibility to hasten the process when what a kid believes in is something that’s truly good and benevolent. Something that is only good doesn’t exist in the real world- and it’s okay if a child believes in their heart that the possibility of something extraordinary exists.