The past couple of days have been rough for the BU community. We all woke up Monday expecting a snow day, but evidently, that did not work out in our favor. As the BUnion sarcastically reported, “the blizzard was cancelled due to school.”
Before we rant about our snow-related woes, at least we are better off than several elementary schools in Minnesota. Bruce Vento Elementary announced its decision Wednesday to not celebrate holidays like Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, among other festivities. Their justification for essentially putting a stop to happiness and fun? Principal Scott Masini said they are simply attempting to be culturally sensitive and inclusive.
I spent almost all of my schooling years in Singapore. Although I attended an international school, the institution still made sure to celebrate the national holidays of Singapore as well as the festivals that were celebrated back home in India. In doing so, I found myself equally as excited for the Chinese New Year as I did for Diwali, which is the festival of lights. Living and studying in a country that you were not born in takes time to adjust to, but the transition was several times easier for me. My kindergarten observed all the dominant festivities of Singapore and at the same time taught me to learn and love the culture of the land that I would soon call home.
To some extent, I can understand that Masini’s decision to ban prevalent holidays stems from a desire to curtail class comparisons. Perhaps it makes sense to forgo a holiday like Valentine’s Day where unwanted attention is thrown on underprivileged students, but is it really viable to cancel popular holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas? These holidays are part and parcel of the American tradition. If such celebrations are observed in schools with children from all over the world, it will certainly alleviate their journey into accepting America as their home. The holidays should be used as an opportunity to introduce the American culture to their students.
As far as my experience goes, an upcoming festival — whether it was Singapore’s or India’s — definitely made going to school a fun experience. On those special days, I wouldn’t have to drag myself out of bed, but instead, I was up early and ready to go. Yes, a school’s main objective is to be a place for learning, but children will no longer be motivated to go to school if the fun factor has been wiped out completely.
“I think school should be a place that children want to run into every morning rather than run out of every day at 3 p.m.,” Thomas Scarice, a Connecticut superintendent, wrote in a statement to the Star Tribune. I completely agree with this statement.
Suppressing the culture of a land is not the solution. Instead, schools should be inclusive of all of the cultures and ethnicities of their students and take the effort to at least acknowledge the major holidays of all of their students. Doing so creates a sense of community and teaches children to be in harmony with each other.