Sunday, April 16, 2006


So we celebrated Easter at Ding Ding Dang with various events, mostly making Easter baskets crafts in each class and a preschool Easter "egg" (candy) hunt in the park. Also, several of the Korean teachers asked us foreign teachers to "explain Easter" to the kids. The great thing about this request was that it was sort of - impossible! I mean, besides the limited English of some classes, it was really strange to try to explain Easter. I could easily enough draw a basket, eggs, the bunny, and the cross. And pretty much every kid knows -- roughly -- who Jesus is. But it was really strange to try to explain "we celebrate" blah blah blah when it's really only Christians who celebrate "Jesus is risen," not the entirety of Western civilization. Let alone making the eggs/bunny connections.

Some of the Korean teachers asked me "why rabbits?" So I started talking about how the Holy Roman Empire, in its efforts to take over the world, sent conquering missionaries into pagan lands and adopted many of their fertility/spring rites and rituals into Christian commemorations and they've all morphed into weird things like that. One of the Canadian teachers walked in while I was talking and was like, oh, here we go. "She asked!" I protested. It's true, she admitted. They were really curious. They wanted to know all about it. I pointed out that missionaries had done the same thing here, adopting some of the traditions of Confucianism and ancestor rites into Korean Christian worship.

I had my awesome 12-year-olds of the advanced conversation and fabulous essays write a few sentences about "what is Easter?" They wrote things like: "I think the Easter is when Jesus died but he lived again so he is famous" or "I think Jesus was born, lived, and was born again, so now we eat eggs because in the egg is born like Jesus was born." I thought, well, that's about as good an explanation as I could come up with!

It made me think a bit about the whole (nonsense! nonsense! nonsense!) debate about teaching "intelligent design" in U.S. classrooms. First of all, give me a break. But secondly, I suddenly had a bit of a feel for what it must be like. And mind you, no one was asking me to teach anything, as in, to explain as fact, a religious speculation or myth. But I did experience the notion of once you start explaining something as an authority, you are called to answer questions about it, and when it veers into opinion, it's just that: opinion. Expat ESL teachers in Asia are often called on to give their cultural perspective in the line of duty. Biology teachers should not be.

1 comment:

raine said...

I'm tagging you!
Taggedy tag tag Ms. Busy!