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who does not celebrate birthdays?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by crazycatlady101, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. Hi, in RE next week I'm teaching Yr1 - celebrating birthdays. I have a Jehovah's Witness in my class. Her parents have said she is allowed to take part in the lesson so I am going to explain to the whole class that some people do not celebrate birthdays, for example; Jehovah's Witness. Are their any other religious groups that do not celebrate birthdays?
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Wow - I never knew that. Birthdays are such a big thing for children.
  3. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I'm not sure I would name the groups...just say that some people don't.

  5. Shouldn't have done...but that made me laugh :)
  6. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    No...never taught a Satanist.
    Now THAT would be interesting.
  7. tafkam

    tafkam Occasional commenter

    All much of a muchness, really [​IMG]
  8. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    Why? Isn't the point to educate children?

    It's like having a history lesson and saying, "WW2 was fought between some countries. We won't go into which ones, but there were a few."
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Yes but not to humiliate/embarrass/hurt/upset the child who is a JW in the class. It would be like saying 'we all celebrate birthdays but SHE doesn't'. And then the poor child has to answer lots of questions about why in the playground later.

    And I definitely wouldn't want to start talking about Satanists with KS1 children!
  10. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    If they get upset about their own beliefs then maybe then don't feel that strongly about them. I don't think discussing a fact is pointing fingers. Why not talk with the children about it? Let them say why they don't celebrate birthdays.
  11. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Because their parents have told them not to. Not their choice. I wonder if they can celebrate other people's parties?
  12. Waterfin

    Waterfin New commenter

    My friend's neighbour is a JW. Their family does not celebrate their own birthdays and the child is not allowed to attend other children's birthdays either.

  13. My friend at school was a JW - well, her mum was and she had to follow her mum's rules. She desperately wanted to celebrate her birthday and Christmas but wasn't allowed to. It used to make her resent the religion and she definitely didn't want to discuss it with the class.
    I agree with taking the discussion down the 'some people don't celebrate birthdays' route and then the child in question can join the discussion if they want to.
  14. Many children do not want to feel "different", particularly those who might lack self-confidence. It's extremely important that teachers do not single children out when teaching RE for example. Sometimes, a child will be happy to tell the class about their beliefs and you can make use of this when teaching a religion you are less familiar with. But it should only ever be done when you have previously checked that the child is happy to contribute.This does not mean they don't feel strongly about their beliefs - just that they don't want attention drawn to them.
    I can't imagine that many children in KS1 would be able to explain why they don't celebrate birthdays.

  15. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    I think this is overtly PC.
    It would be like skirting the issue of Muslims not eating pork just in case a Muslim child in the class fancied trying a sausage.
    It can easily be discussed without it seeming like the child is being teased or singled out because of it.
    If the child resents the religion then he or she is free to abandon it when they're old enough to start making such choices.
  16. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    I think that most JWs give presents when they all meet for the large district assemblies - it is a gift given to show love. They also give gifts at other times such as weddings and births. Perhaps this could be mentioned so that the other children don't think the child is never given a present. The explanation for why they don't celebrate birthdays is quite simple if you wanted to give it.
  17. nick909

    nick909 Star commenter

    Surely the most important aspect we teach in RE is tolerance (both as an aspect of a given religion and also the tolerance of other religions).
    If it's handled carefully, there's no reason why this aspect of the religion shouldn't be talked about. If not mentioned or skirted around, it almost suggests that the teacher thinks there's something wrong with their custom. It doesn't have be taught in a finger pointing way at all (as someone suggested above, saying "THEY don't believe in celebrating birthdays").
    Apart from anything, there's also the rather large matter of Christmas coming up. It will surely have to be mentioned that the JW child in question doesn't celebrate Christmas, otherwise the children will certainly wonder why he or she isn't joining in with all of the related activities and disappears everytime there's a song or nativity practice.
    I had a classmate throughout school who was/is a JW. It was simply understood that he didn't participate in Christmas or come to birthday parties, as well as other aspects such as not participating in non-uniform days because of customs concerning charity. No-one castigated him or thought of him as different - we just accepted it because we'd been taught why and taught to accept his family's views.
  18. Milgod

    Milgod Established commenter

    Do you think the other children in the class don't already know the child is a JW? They wouldn't have gone to any birthday parties before, so they probably already know about that aspect too.
    It seems to me like you are happy to brush things under the carpet and hope they go away. Everyone if different. We should be encouraging inclusion. The last JW child I had took part in every RE lesson we had (the first year they had done so) because I explained to their mother that we look at religion but don't ever push one over another. By hiding things you are saying they are wrong.
  19. Thank you for all of your replies.
    I have quite a few religions in the class, so we have already had one child explain why he celebrates divali, and has said he is the first black boy to be 6 in the class - he was actually quite proud of this!
    The parents of the JW are really good, I talk through the plans for each half term with them, then they talk with their daughter to explain what we are going to be talking about. If they would rather her not take part they let me know, eg. harvest assembly. She comes into every assembly, just does not pray or join in with hymns.
    The little girl is confident, and I think she would like to join in and try to say why she does not have parties. I know they are having a present day in January so we will discuss that as well.
    I agree with most posters on here, we need to teach children that everyone is different, and if we don't explain it properly and sensitively we are not teaching them properly.
    So...as for my original question, I think I'll just say 'some people do not celebrate birthdays' rather than name groups and single out the JW.
  20. You're lucky to have such supportive parents, I taught a JW child last year in year 1, and her parents didn't allow her to sit in any assemblies where anything religious, or any birthdays, were mentioned. If a child in my class had a birthday, she had to leave the room if we wanted to sing happy birthday. She also wasn't allowed to take part in any christmas related activities, or easter activities, including things like colouring in picture of father christmas or christmas trees. The parents were very strict about this, she was allowed absolutely no contact with any kind of religious material at all! Made planning at christmas time and practising for the xmas play very difficult indeed! She did get other presents at different times of the year though :) and fortunately she was a very confident and happy child who didn't seem to mind children asking questions, otherwise she might have felt a bit singled out.

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