I go to a small private school, and for years now, I’ve
been the only Jewish girl in my grade. I’m used to being surrounded by a
holiday I don’t celebrate. But no other teacher has ever made such a pointed
effort to “include my perspective” during the holiday season as my current
history teacher. It’s driving me nuts and getting a li’l embarrassing! What
should I do?
Being the odd one out for any reason can be super
uncomfortable, sweetie, but when you’re surrounded by reminders of what makes
you different from the pack, dealing with your differences can be particularly
challenging. We’ve got a few ways to help you solve this sitch and make this
holiday season a happy one, regardless of which holiday you celebrate.
Understand where she’s coming from
Your history teacher probably has no idea that her behavior
is anything less than medal-worthy. She thinks that including you (and thus
your beliefs) in discussions that revolve around Christmas and other
religious-based winter holidays, you’ll feel included rather than left out.
Unconsciously, what she’s really done is draw a bright red-and-green target on
your back and handed you a “token Jewish girl” nametag. Sensitivity to the
beliefs and traditions of others should be applauded. But I’m thinking there’s
probably a better way for her to be all-inclusive without singling you out.
Talk it out
Solving your problem, however, is a cinch. Quietly ask her
if you two could have a chat after school. When the appointed time rolls
around, simply say that you truly appreciate her effort to include you, but
that because you’re the only girl who celebrates Hanukkah (or Kwanzaa or Winter
Solstice) in your class, her attention is isolating you instead of bringing you
into the festive fold. Be as nice as you can as you suggest that she opens up
her lessons to all religions and beliefs rather than just highlighting you and
Hanukkah (which, you might add, really isn’t the huge celebration Christmas is for many others).
Another option? Throw off all embarrassment and embrace your
teacher’s pointed inclusion by pulling out all the stops. Bring in sugar
cookies cut into dreidel shapes. Teach your classmates the story behind Hanukkah
(perhaps by a special viewing of The Rugrat’s Hanukkah special…). Gift your
Secret Santa with gelt. Or, you know, sit at your desk and nod along to her
questions. But we think the cookie idea is way sweeter…
Have you ever been singled out by a teacher like this,
BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 12/8/2011 12:27:00 PM
POSTED IN happy holidays, bust school stress, teacher trouble, religion, identity