Jehovah's witness students
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I have a few students that are Jehovah’s witnesses, and am running into walls when I try to cover standards relating to patriotic and holiday songs. Does anyone else deal with this? I try to come at things from a very secular place, teaching holiday songs from many different religious backgrounds and omitting songs that are considered sacred, but I still seem to be running into issues. Does anybody have advice on how to keep these children involved in the music class (singing songs, moving to songs, and playing songs on recorder) without making them uncomfortable or angering their parents?
I always talk to the parents. Everyone family I have dealt with takes this area to different extremes. Some say flat out no my child cannot particiate. Some say only certain songs. Some just don’t care. Find out to what extent you can go with these children before you get too stressed. The parents I have found are more then willing to educate you on their beliefs and what they will allow their children to do.
I teach in a very religously diverse school with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Athiest. Communication is key. If in doubt though avoid the song. Hope it helps.
In my previous school I had a couple students who were JWs. They were not allowed to participate in the songs, but they could listen to them. I would usually just give them something else to do while the class was learning patriotic or holiday songs. I hated excluding them; that’s the last thing I would ever do! But I spoke to the homeroom teacher about specifics – could / not do – for these students; that helped. I would second speaking to the parents about the extent of their beliefs and what they would / not like their child to be exposed to or participate in during Music. Keep in mind the 10 Standards and explain to the parents that you are trying to hit as many as possible with your lessons, but you do not want to make them or the student uncomfortable.
I would also suggest talking to your principal and the child’s classroom teacher, to see if they have any input. Other teachers in your district could potentially understand the issues regarding Jehovah’s Witnesses in your particular area as well. And, of course, parental contact is great, too.
Council for General Music Member-at-Large
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