Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mrs. Anderson, is God a bad word?

I hear it every year. A wide-eyed little kinder walks up to me with a genuine question:

"Mrs. Anderson, is God a bad word?"

It happened today, and it always makes me think. How does this same question come up every year? Where does this come from? 

And of course, what's the "right answer?" I know what I say... but what do other teachers say?

There are kinders every year who talk about God -- their religion is an important part of their family. And let's all remember, to a five-year-old, your family life is all you know. Everyone's family is just like yours. Your life is "normal." So, why would it be weird to talk about it?

I *never* tell a child they cannot talk about God at school. *Never.* I know there are teachers out there who would, but I just can't. I would never tell a child they can't talk about their dog, or their uncle, or their vacation. It's their life to share with us -- and we must respect where they come from and what they bring with them.

I have one little guy this year who is very in touch with God. He talks about God a lot. He's a five-year-old, so please know, there is no "preaching" happening on our classroom. But, when we Pass the Ball to share what we did over the weekend, he always talks about church. When he told his favorite season yesterday, he said "Winter, because it's Jesus' birthday." Today, we were talking about books we like to read. He likes to read his Bible. 

When a five-year-old is learning the confidence and language to speak in front of their peers, *never* would I shoot them down. I hope there is no kindergarten teacher out there who would stop a child from telling these stories... from building that confidence... even if it's about God. But... I'm sure some teachers do.

Okay... back to the question...

"Mrs. Anderson, is God a bad word?"

Today, I overheard a conversation between three students while at a station. One was the little boy mentioned above. He told one of his peers, "I can't see God... but he can see me." The third child looked shocked and said, "You can't talk about that at school."

Of course, a discussion followed...

Student 1: "Well, why not?"
Student 2: "Because it's a bad word."
Student 1: "What's a bad word?"
Student 2: "God. You can't say that at school."

Enter -- Mrs. Anderson.

Me: "What's going on boys?"
Student 2: "Mrs. Anderson, is God a bad word?"

Enter -- voice of reason.

Me: "Well, what do you think? Is it hurtful?"
Student 2: "No."
Me: "Does it make you feel sad when he says it?"
Student 2: "No."
Me: "Well, then I would say it's not a bad word. But, if you don't want to talk about it, you can tell him or choose a different station."
Student 2: "That's okay!"

Back to playing. Back to laughing. 

And it was over. But, of course, I kept thinking about it. I wasn't shocked by the question... it happens every year. I just began to reflect on why this question naturally arises every year.

Where do our children get this idea that God is a bad word? I think God has become a taboo subject in the public schools -- and I can tell you that it has become taboo because of fear. Everyone is afraid of angry parents, of being sued, of being fired. 

Let me tell you what I'm afraid of. 

I'm afraid of stifling a child. 
I'm afraid of making a child feel that something they love is wrong.
I'm afraid of not preparing my students for the "real world."

So, no. God is not a bad word in our classroom. Mrs. Anderson does not talk about God, but it's okay for my kinders to talk about. It's okay to journal about. It's okay to share stories about.

There's a time to follow rules in fear. And there's a time to stand back, listen, and just do what's right for a five-year-old. And I can tell you, my decision has nothing to do with my personal beliefs. It's about the kids.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by!