A substitute teacher from New Jersey is in hot water after telling a class of first graders that Santa Claus isn’t real. She’s not wrong… but the question is whether she broke an unwritten rule.
In a letter to parents, Cedar Hill School Principal Michael Raj, in Montville, said once he became aware of the situation, he “immediately” spoke to the substitute teacher about “her poor judgment.”
“I am sending this letter so that you are aware of the situation and if the conversation comes up at home over the next few days you can take appropriate steps to maintain the childhood innocence of the holiday season,” Raj added.
He then apologized to parents, saying as a parent himself, he is “truly aware of the sensitive nature” of the announcement.
Apparently, the sub went even further than exposing Santa:
Lisa Simek, an upset parent, said the teacher told students Santa isn’t real and parents “just buy presents and put them under their tree.”
Simek said the teacher also tried to ruin the spirit of other holidays. “She told them reindeer can’t fly and elves are not real [and] elf on the shelf is just a pretend doll that your parents move around,” Simek wrote on Facebook.
“She did not even stop there: the tooth fairy is not real because mom or dad just sneak into your room in the middle of the night and put money under your pillow, same goes for the Easter bunny. She told them magic does not exist. There is no such thing as magic anything,” Simek wrote.
Simek’s posts have since been deleted, but it makes you wonder when the sub was ever going to follow the actual lesson plan… Not every truth needs to be revealed to six-year-olds, and this particular myth is one of the few lies we tell children that’s almost universally acceptable. We know kids will discover the truth on their own; perhaps the disturbing part of this story is how the magic was taken away from a bunch of children in one fell swoop.
Keep in mind the alternative, too. If the teacher had instead played along with the narrative and told the class that Santa is, in fact, real, would she have faced anger from parents who insist Jesus is “the reason for the season”? Or from non-Christian parents who don’t celebrate Christmas in any capacity?
There were tactful ways to avoid answering the questions. This sub chose none of them. Instead, the kids were served a hot steaming bowl of truth they didn’t ask for.
At any rate, maybe there’s an upside here. Maybe some kids will feel less bad if their classmates come back in the new year bragging about the iPad that “Santa” gave them. Maybe they’ll realize, rightly, that rich parents can give their kids expensive gifts and Santa doesn’t favor rich kids over poor ones.
For now, the substitute has not been fired, and perhaps she shouldn’t be. But she could learn to be a little more thoughtful in the way she talks to children.
(Image via Shutterstock)