Christmas is cancelled! Amanda Varley explores the value of doing Christmas properly at secondary school…
It’s Christmas time: shops are filled with a cacophony of Christmas sounds; Santa’s Grottos are on every corner; and families are already enjoying Christmas activities through December. But in school, the corridors are bleak and desolate, lit only by the normal school lights as the dark nights slip ever-further into the afternoons. There’s no tinsel here. No Christmas lights twinkling. No Christmas cheer. These are the Scrooge Schools where Christmas is cancelled…
Of course, schools don’t want over-excited children right from the beginning of December. Of course, schools don’t want students incessantly refusing to work, instead asking if they can watch Christmas films. Of course, schools still have to ensure students are getting quality-teaching, using their time wisely, making the most of every moment to prepare their robots for assessments.
But has everyone forgotten what Christmas is about? It isn’t about students trying to slack off in favour of Christmas films. Christmas actually has important life lessons that schools can be part of sharing with students.
As well as the religious beliefs about Christmas, it is also a time of goodwill. Students might not realise how lucky they are compared to other families, places in the world or even closer to home. This would be an excellent time to look at issues within their immediate environment, such as homelessness in their local area, or donating toys to children who will be in hospital at Christmas time. These sorts of activities can be incorporated into any subject so why not use the Christmas time to spread some goodwill and extend their learning at the same time? Persuasive letters, campaigns to encourage people to donate, debates about how much people should spend at Christmas…all of these are perfectly acceptable ‘Christmas themed’ lessons that serve a much higher and important purpose.
What about inclusion? Schools are eager to make sure everyone is treated fairly and that everyone has the same opportunities. This includes being able, as a teacher, to give a student who you know might not have the greatest home life the opportunity to enjoy Christmas. They might not have the kind of family who will spend time with them and do Christmas activities. They may not be showered with gifts. They may not be excited about Christmas because of their circumstances, but at least schools can play a part in helping them know they are special and loved at Christmas. Some schools organise a ‘Book Secret Santa’, where books are donated and then students are nominated by staff members for books to be given to them.
And let’s not forget the good-old fashioned fun that students can have at Christmas time. Imagine Year 7, who have come from the fun and festivities of KS2 in to the sombre and altogether duller festivities of the secondary school. But it’s not just Year 7 who need the magic of Christmas. Even students in Year 11 will appreciate the memories made at Christmas time, especially as they are about to leave the relative safety of their school environment before entering the real world. Christmas games, designing Christmas cards, decorating a classroom and working towards the ‘present’ of being able to celebrate their hard work from the term is a fantastic incentive for students to keep working hard until the final couple of days.
So schools and teachers, don’t shy away from this important time. This is the perfect opportunity to teach our students amazing things. Yes, Home Alone is an amazing film, but why not take a look at our Beyond Christmas resources and see how you can tick all the boxes and get in Santa’s good books all at the same time!