The great Thanksgiving feast debate
Are school celebrations a valuable teaching tool or a waste of time and money?
By GreatSchools Staff
Do your child’s school celebrations sometimes miss their educational point? One recent debate in the GreatSchools parent community about Thanksgiving feasts offers a glimpse of how even a holiday as innocuous as one devoted to turkey eating can brew controversy over values, culture, and a school’s decision to treat parties as teachable moments.
One mom was so disgusted by the amount of food wasted by her son’s classroom feast one year that she rallied his classmates’ parents in protest. Together they decided that a better use of the children’s time would be to make baskets of food to donate. The next year the entire school followed suit.
The perfect solution to our culture of excess and gluttony? Not so fast. Some parents argue that a Thanksgiving feast at school is a fun, hands-on way to learn about the history behind the holiday while celebrating community and family.
Check out these outtakes from the Great Thanksgiving Feast Debate, and tell us where you stand on school special events: Do schools lavish students with extravagant parties to the detriment of their learning? Or are celebrations important teaching tools?
Waste not, want not
Last year, while our second-grade teacher made "stone soup" in the class and all the children shared that soup together, the other two second-grade [classes] celebrated Thanksgiving by having a lavish feast in the cafeteria. While I don't think the harvest celebration between the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians was a waste, the feast at our school certainly was! I'm sorry, but I don't believe that "sharing" food one day a year really teaches our children anything. Most children at our school come from affluent families. They will go home and eat more turkey while many families in our community will go without. The sharing of food could be equally achieved by just having some pumpkin pies (or something simple to eat) in the class while they all make baskets of food to donate. If you'd seen the amount of food that was thrown away last year after that feast, you'd see my way also, or so I hope! — by Eccentric
My son's private school always has a big, expensive feast that we, the parents, must pay for. They send a letter home with the statement, "If you need financial assistance, please let us know." Well, what if I just feel this is a stupid, unnecessary expense? I love the idea of putting the money toward creating food baskets for needy families instead. I am going to write the school principal immediately and propose it. — by Mandolyn
I believe that making baskets for the needy is a great idea. This idea should spread to all schools. Children learn what caring and sharing is all about that way, and we need more of that everywhere. Every holiday should involve something where the needy are concerned. — by Makemesane