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.