Saturday, November 03, 2012

How to Avoid Offending Anyone This Holiday Season

Answer at the bottom of this post.

My son posted this on his Twitter feed and it gave me a good laugh. I could be wrong, but I believe the comment originated with Jim Gaffigan, a comedian.

It's humorous and not-so-humorous at the same time. While most people are starting to look forward to the holidays with all the good food, cheer, family time, and personal wonderment, some people are getting a little stressed out. Every year in schools across the nation, teachers are beginning to assess their new group of students and figure out how to appropriately handle the holidays.

For me, because I taught elementary students for 22 years, there were 22 varieties of how I handled the holidays. Within those 22, there were other variances for individual students based on students' sensitivities, parental wishes, etc.

Every year brought new surprises but one thing was consistent; every year brought lots of stress. Not the stress of planning parties (which as we all know is stressful enough), but the stress of keeping things generic enough for everyone without offending anyone. I've come to realize it's an impossible task.

I've recently been asked to be a regular on-air commentator for BAM Radio, the largest education radio network in the world offering programming from the nation's top education organizations and thought leaders and reaching a wide audience of people passionately commited to quality education.  The segment we recently recorded is called Balancing Act: Celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza in School hosted by Rae Pica with Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., Julie Bisson (and me!)

I hope you'll take some time to listen and enjoy. I'd love to know what you think of the radio show and if you have tips for a stress-free (or less-stressful) holiday in school, please leave your thoughts in the comment section.

Answer to the title of this post:
Can we avoid offending everyone? I don't think so, but you can minimize the risk. If you listened to the radio segment, you now have some ideas for moving forward. What are your thoughts? 


Bruce Forsyth said...

When it comes to how politically correct I should try to be, I keep Charlie Sheen's rule-of-thumb in mind: "Just because you're offended doesn't mean you're right."

After all, if there's anyone who knows about offending people, it's CS!

Lee Kolbert said...

That's a great quote and definitely true! Although, I suppose you are entitled to be offended by anything, which makes you right. What doesn't make you right about is that the offender was offensive. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Lee Kolbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I believe that communication with parents and students are important. As is the education of future global citizens. Many students have no idea of the background of their peers therefore if they act or look different from what is "normal", the usual reaction is to shun or even make fun of them. Children need to be educated to be open minded and to be willing to learn about other cultures in the classroom and in their own life. Yes, teachers should be careful what they decide to do, but that is why we have 2 ears and 1 mouth.
Thank you Lee for sharing this podcast.

Unknown said...

This was very well documented. Interesting Forwards

Hervé said...

Why would you want to avoid offending anyone (in a personal context)? If someone can't cope with something you write or say, do you really want them in your circles? Time to get rid of the dead wood...

Obviously it is another matter in a professional context! In the context of education, people get too easily offended. Sometimes it is useful to offend someone to start the thinking process towards considering another point of view.