Helen at Cast Iron Balcony has a post up noting the seasonal reappearance of the usual story of politicians taking back Christmas from the perils of political correctness. Sadly, our school was part of this annual beat up this year.
Chatterboy’s teacher was in charge of the Year 5 end of year concert this year. She got the Year fives together and asked them to choose a song. “Something that makes everyone happy”, she said. “Something inclusive.”
One child enquired, “does that mean it shouldn’t mention God?” Our teacher agreed/suggested that may not be inclusive for everyone. So after a bit more back and forth, the class chose Mamma Mia, which has the advantage of being well known to practically everyone already, after they all watched the movie last year.
One child (probably one who talks a lot more about school than our two do) went home and described this scene to his/her parents. Said parents, without any further checking, or even communication with the school, immediately called the local paper, which put together a front page story entitled School bans Christmas, despite much of it’s story being denied by the school.
Once it was on the front page of the paper Channel 9 sent a camera crew around. They didn’t have to bother checking any facts, since they could just report the local paper story. Alan Jones picked it up, with the result that the school administration started getting hateful anonymous calls accusing them of being “Moslem-lovers”.
Chatterboy’s teacher, one of the best in the school, took a day off during the worst of the press. She’s a self confident, strong person, so it probably won’t put her off teaching, as an experience, but being the centre of a media storm like that can’t be pleasant.
I find myself, when recounting this story, pointing out the demographics of the school. Just like pretty much anywhere in Sydney these days, we have families from around the world. Our biggest two first generation ethnic groups are Japanese and French, but both boys have had no shortage of interesting parents coming in to talk on Harmony Day about their cultural and religious backgrounds.
But you shouldn’t have to have a multitude of religions in the student body to make a secular end of year concert permissible. This is the state school system. We do, theoretically, have a separation of church and state. What on earth is wrong with a bit of secular good cheer just in time for the long summer holidays?