A second-grade teacher in Nanuet, NY, has come under fire for telling students that there is no Santa Claus and that their parents buy their Christmas presents. Parents are up in arms, with some labeling the teacher as “the new Scrooge.” Elizabeth Smith, principal of George W. Miller Elementary School, has not responded to queries but Superintendent Mark McNeill said he is investigating.
The teacher made the revelation about Santa’s true identity during a geography lesson; students had told their teacher that they knew about the North Pole because it’s where Santa lives.
The teacher is not alone in speaking up about the “truth about Santa”: Robin Robinson, an anchor at FOX News Chicago, angered many parents when she said on Tuesday that it’s important for kids to learn early on that Santa is not real, so that they not ask for gifts that are way beyond mom and dad’s budget:
“Stop trying to convince your kids that Santa is Santa. That’s why they have these high expectations. They know you can’t afford it, so what do they do? Just ask some man in a red suit. There is no Santa.”
Robinson reportedly offered an apology on Wednesday.
While many Nanuet parents are definitely up in arms with the second grade teacher, it is not clear how students felt about learning who Santa really is in the midst of a school geography lesson.
Certainly children do learn at some point that Santa — and such figures as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy — are not real. One could argue that it is just as well that the teacher let the cat out of the bag (after all, the teacher was teaching about geography and Santa does not live at the North Pole). Robinson’s comment about parents demystifying Santa in the name of teaching children to be “realistic” is pragmatic, though delivering such information on the evening news may not have been the best way to communicate what can be earth-shattering news to some.
In an age when you read about being iPads being the “hot” gift for toddlers and when it’s become an understatement to say that Christmas is commercialized, keeping some of the tradition, the “magic” of the holiday season, seems more important than ever. Is Santa a subject best left to parents? If so, what should a teacher say when the topic of the red-suited man comes up?
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