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Rock Bridge Elementary first-graders learn about Kwanzaa

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | 3:55 p.m. CST; updated 12:05 a.m. CST, Thursday, December 18, 2008
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Dee Campbell-Carter taught first-graders at Rock Bridge Elementary School about the meaning of Kwanzaa on Dec. 17 in the school’s library. First-graders learned a song to remember the Swahili words associated with the holiday.

COLUMBIA — Dee Campbell-Carter distracted first-graders at Rock Bridge Elementary from thoughts of Santa and got them excited for the day after Christmas — the start of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is a seven-day celebration beginning Dec. 26 and ending Jan. 1. Campbell-Carter, who has celebrated the holiday with her family for fifteen years, shared the history, meaning and practices of Kwanzaa with the students.

Students learned the seven principles of Kwanzaa including unity (umoja), self-determination (kujichagulia) and creativity (kuumba). They learned Swahili and history through singing, clapping and chanting. Campbell-Carter showed them handmade instruments like a beaded gourd and a rainstick. She said families looking to celebrate Kwanzaa for the first time should start at the library.

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“The beat draws you in when you're learning things,” she said.

She told students that no matter their heritage, they can celebrate Kwanzaa. Campbell-Carter gave examples of crafts such as instruments and decorative masks that students can create during the holiday.

Elayna Mottaz, 7, said her favorite part of the morning was “shaking the maraca” and that she would like to try making masks with her family for Kwanzaa. 

Campbell-Carter said students can participate in the holiday with something as simple as doing the dishes or feeding the homeless.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro December 18, 2008 | 3:02 a.m.
This comment has been removed.
Nathan Stephens December 18, 2008 | 9:26 a.m.

Really great story of people reaching across cultures to learn from one another. Kudos to Rock Bridge Elementary for asking Mrs. Campbell-Carter to teach about Kwanzaa and kudos to Mrs. Campbell-Carter for accepting.

Lord knows we really need to learn from one another in this city.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 18, 2008 | 11:35 a.m.

Nathan:
Now really. There are many non-religious holidays and celebrations, from around the world, which are not taught to our first-graders. What makes Kwanzaa so special that children are told that no matter what their heritage is, that it's O.K. for them to celebrate Kwanzaa. (Is it because it's competing against Christmas?)
What do you think discussions at these non-black families are going to be like when these "other heritaged" kids come home and tell their parents that "teacher says it's O.K. for us to celebrate Kwanzaa?"
I see no problem with social studies and history lessons. I think it's good to expose kids to other cultures. I do not, however, appreciate "pandering, manipulation and indoctrination."

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 18, 2008 | 5:27 p.m.

One thing I do not like in our society is these issues of school teachers only teaching about only one religious culture as a whole.

I think that is very very wrong and as ray shapiro said close to a type of indoctrination or the easier term is brain washing.

I think religious theology or the teaching of any religion itself should be taught in the home or churches but never ever in our public schools.

Sure history studies tells all about those various cultures and their various religious practices but they do not openly push it as this story above represents.

I have to say that this featured story is on the very edge of being too close to a type of indoctrination of children who might not be able to totally understand at their young impressionable age all of the issues.

Is this what our public schools are being allowed to be turned into by CPS is into little "indoctrination stations" for the various groups of children from all backgrounds of diversity?

Oh this group of children is Asian so we will only teach them about Buddha and tell them it is ok.

Oh this group of children is only Jewish so we will only teach them about Moses and tell them it is ok.

Since when did teachers become the parents in teaching religious theology?

And the list goes on. Do we see a pattern here developing? If you do or have contact CPS and either email,write or call and protest this type of pseudo indoctrination of your children who might be being told to believe in something you are not teaching them at home about your religious beliefs you want them to learn.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 18, 2008 | 5:36 p.m.

So Chuck, do you also believe that schools should teach about homosexual, S&SM, et al lifestyles and practices? For example, should sex ed classes include a wider variety of practices (e.g., bondage, fetish)?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 18, 2008 | 6:40 p.m.

Ayn:
I don't think either one of these articles should be discussed with first-graders. What do you think?

http://thetruthaboutkwanzaa.wordpress.co... http://www.blackherbals.com/low_down_on_...

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 18, 2008 | 7:43 p.m.

Chuck, I don't believe there is any religious aspect to Kwanzaa, so what are you talking about regarding this story?

(Report Comment)
Brendon Burris December 18, 2008 | 10:00 p.m.

I hope I'm wrong. I don't check comments often but when I saw this story I was inclined to look because I knew people would say lots. It seems to me these heated comments are only left on stories perceived as "non-christian". Kwaanza claims no religious aspect. And people who 'oppose' it try to attribute 'dishonest intentions' in its history to make it seem bad. But history is not nearly as important as what you do with the presentday. Christmas was originally a pagan holiday afterall but that doesn't make anyone blow it off. The meaning has certainly changed now with the holiday's name. My point is, I would've liked to learn something about Kwaanza during school. I always wondered what it was. And you shouldn't bash something you don't know about. It would've been another opportunity to learn to understand the traditions of others whether I celebrated it or not. It's an opportunity, not indoctrination.
Besides everyone finds their way in life, including these kids you are underestimating. They like to learn in fun ways for now, but as they grow older, at some point they question the legitimacy of everything, even their parents. I respect everyone's opinions but it seems to me there is a lot of undue fear. I mean let's not give the kids an assembly where they get to pet live animals, it might make them decide to buy illegal fur coats later in life. Give me a break. If you shelter them too much, kids try harder to break away from you when they get older. The best thing to do is address 'issues' like this as they come up not try to avoid them occurring altogether. That's impossible. And any involved parent knows that. Kids should learn 'christmas' isn't the only holiday out there, and activities like this are the best way to do that in a safe environment catered to learning and non ignorance. And any competent parent will be able to deal with a child's Kwaanza wishes or religious confusion when they get home.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 18, 2008 | 11:12 p.m.

Updated only 3 years ago, the only present change is that we now have a "black" president-elect....
http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/arti...

http://www.floppingaces.net/2005/12/26/t...

and again, I have no problem with social studies and history or having children being "exposed" to multi-cultural holidays and celebrations. My concern is that there is an agenda to "push and promote" Kwanzaa, instead of making it equal with every other one listed in this book...
http://www.amazon.com/Celebrations-aroun...
and the manner in which they are presented and taught.
Any good, objective curriculum writer, parent, teacher, principal or school board member should understand that, unless they're a "pandering politician."

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich December 18, 2008 | 11:18 p.m.

Why are you putting random phrases in quotes?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 2:59 a.m.

Ayn Rand I do not think any sex ed should be taught in schools until at least 5-6 grade as that "should be being taught in the home by the parents". Unfortunately that is not the case as parents are failing to teach their children in their homes these days and pawning it all off onto other people like teachers,TV,friends and others.

Can we say failure on this issue to starts in the home as well. I knew you could. :)

John Schultz if you do not understand it now then you more than likely never will and it is a waste of my time even trying to explain it to you.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 10:46 a.m.

So Chuck, if you can't show me the religious aspect of Kwanzaa that you were griping about, it must be the African-American culture component you don't like, right? If you won't back up your statements, I'll just make some assumptions like you do.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 11:31 a.m.

John Schultz as I stated if you did not read I do not approve of any forms of any types of religious indoctrinations nor do I approve of any forms of any kind of "tribal traditions" to be taught in our public schools to those young children who are quite susceptible to any influances out side of teir own homes and parental influances. It is that simple.

I do not approve of teachers who are possibly teaching these things either who in turn tell these influenced children that it is ok to go home to their parents proclaiming the teachers said it was ok too.

I have nothing to prove to you it is just my opinion I am entitled to and if you do not like it you do not have to read it nor respond.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 11:36 a.m.

I don't disagree with that statement for the most part, but are you still claiming that Kwanzaa has a religious component?

(Report Comment)
John M. Nowell, III December 19, 2008 | 11:43 a.m.

Interesting discussions. One thing that was not mentioned in the article or comments is that Kwansaa is a made-up holiday. It evolved out of the militant 1960's Black Power crowd. Here is an excerpt from the official web site:

"Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Long Beach, author and scholar-activist who stresses the indispensable need to preserve, continually revitalize and promote African American culture.

Finally, it is important to note Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness"

I would think that the teacher's time would be better spent teaching the children how to read, write, and do math. It would help prepare them to succeed later in life. Culture and history are important too, but our schools have their priorities out of place.

Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" speech hoped that someday people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Continually stressing ones Africanness or that they are "African-American" seems to be the opposite of MLK's dream. If you are a legal citizen of this country, aren't we all Americans, not Hispanic, or African, or Musslem-Americans? It seems divisive to me.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 12:55 p.m.

John Schultz this statement here says it all in a nut shell:

>>> I would think that the teacher's time would be better spent teaching the children how to read, write, and do math. It would help prepare them to succeed later in life. Culture and history are important too, but our schools have their priorities out of place. <<<

IMHO cultural practices or religious practices can too often times be intermingled together to be taught as "doctrine" and that is where the main problem lays. Neither of the latter mentioned should be ever taught in public schools as "doctrine" that is what proper parenting should be doing in the home.

Maybe instead of installing "parental controls" on their TV's parents should be installing tighter "parental controls" in the schools of not only the CPS System but all across our nation.

ray shapiro said it correctly as does the poster I quoted.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 1:02 p.m.

Thank you for once again dodging the issue there.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 1:24 p.m.

I did not dodge anything as it is not my fault you cannot comprehend what I post.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 1:43 p.m.

"One thing I do not like in our society is these issues of school teachers only teaching about only one religious culture as a whole.

I think that is very very wrong and as ray shapiro said close to a type of indoctrination or the easier term is brain washing.

I think religious theology or the teaching of any religion itself should be taught in the home or churches but never ever in our public schools."

What does the above have to do with Kwanzaa, since it was your first comment on this story?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 2:27 p.m.

John Schultz do you or can you comprehend "straight speak"?

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 19, 2008 | 2:29 p.m.

"I would think that the teacher's time would be better spent teaching the children how to read, write, and do math. It would help prepare them to succeed later in life. Culture and history are important too, but our schools have their priorities out of place."

John, I agree 100 percent. The other challenge is that where do we draw the line? There are only so many hours in the school day, so how do we decide which cultures should be introduced? Do we invite a femdom to come in and explain what a mask of submission and ball gag are? Maybe that sounds outlandish, but that lifestyle could be defined as a culture, too. What a can of worms.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 3:54 p.m.

Yes Chuck, I understand straight speak. Now explain why you brought religion in the context of the Kwanzaa article. I agree with the general concept of what you are saying, but seeing Kwanzaa is not religious to the best of my knowledge, your griping about religious indoctrination made no sense.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 19, 2008 | 5:27 p.m.

John Schultz so far only you are the one crying about it.

Obviously you have understood only part of what I posted.

If you cannot understand all of what I posted that is your problem now isn't it?

I gave you all of my answers and if you cannot figure out the obvious John Schultz I do not know what else to tell you.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 19, 2008 | 8:50 p.m.

--Just wanted to throw this commentary out. It's from the News Tribune in Jeff City...
http://www.newstribune.com/articles/2008...

Why do schools exclude major religions?
By Dawn D. Jenkins, Jefferson City
Published: Sunday, November 16, 2008

(Report Comment)
John Schultz December 19, 2008 | 9:18 p.m.

Chuck, as usual, you don't want to answer the simple question laid to you. I'll let the readers of these comments make of that what they will.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 20, 2008 | 3:00 a.m.

John Schultz all you want to do is nit pick as usual and I am not going to sit here in a nit picking match with you.

I made my statements and if you cannot handle those statement then that is on you as you are the only one here whimpering about it.

(Report Comment)

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