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    handling students from other religions
    By Cathy-Dee

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    This is always a touchy subject even in schools. The schools I've taught in have always been willing to give in to some viewpoints, but for the most part they expect the parents to provide alternatives for children who cannot take part in some of the activities. In other words we don't punish the rest of the class for one student, but we also do not punish that child because they have different beliefs.

    When I student taught my class had 2 Jehovah Witness children and some of my special classes this past year also had a Jehoval Witness child.

    The most important thing is to meet with the parents and discuss all the issues, birthdays, pledge of allegiance, subjects that will be covered, holidays. Even within the Jehovah Witness faith there are differences in how they deal with the "outside" world so to speak. Some will be very strict and not allow any participation, while others are more relaxed on some of the things. They deal with it more philosophically, they tell their children that some kids believe in Santa Claus but that they do not for this reason. Their kids can listen to stories for example and see Christmas things up in the room, but not participate in the concert or make Christmas things.

    Most teachers can modify most things to meet the criterias that are set. For example instead of making a Santa Claus drawing, they do a Winter drawing or a snowman. But the rest of the class still does Santa.

    I have found most Jehovah Witness parents to be reasonable, in our school they go on holidays for the last two weeks of school before Christmas so that we do not have to alter our plans for the rest of the kids. I doubt we would do much altering any way so this helps out and makes everyone happy. Our school is a Catho

    As far as birthdays - we do not do any big celebrating within the classrooms, they can be in the room, they are just not allowed to sing along and you can't do anything for their birthday. I usually pick another day and give them something for just being a good student in class. And I tell them this is instead of their birthday.

    I think that as long as both sides are reasonable, compromises can be made. But I also feel strongly that we shouldn't compromise so much as to take away from the rest of the kids. Christmas, Easter and other holidays are a main part of our heritage and history. I would argue vehemently if a school decided to do away with a Christmas concert or call it something else instead. I do know that if I moved to another country I would be expected to follow their traditions to a point or at least respect them. I could choose to not participate and that is a feasible choice.

    I think most schools can work within reason to reduce or modify some things (so don't get rid of Christmas or Christmas concerts or parties), but allow for some alternatives within them for a child who is Jehovah Witness. And if that one child has to stay home for a day or two because of what we are doing, that would also be fine.

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