Education Eye: Compassion, humility and tolerance. It’s Christmas

It must be nearly Christmas as I found myself watching Love Actually on the TV this week.

Catherine Stoker

There’s nothing like a bit of rom com to set the mood for the forthcoming festivities.

When it reached the part where they’re all off to the school Christmas play it started me wondering all over again why one of the children is dressed as an octopus, when the play depicts the story of the nativity?

Thinking of school nativity plays takes me back to my early school years when tea towels were the obligatory headwear of shepherds, blonde haired blue eyed children were cast as angels, school gate politics surrounding the casting of Mary and Joseph generated an atmosphere that was the polar opposite to a generous Christmas spirit and Tiny Tears did a great job in the starring role of baby Jesus.

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Nevertheless, through the Nativity play, scripted along the lines of the Christmas story (plenty of sheep, goats and a donkey, but no octopi), we learnt core values from a young age. The importance of family, in whatever shape or form that may be, support for others in the community, to be grateful for what we have without always expecting more, considering the needs of others since there is always someone who is worse off than you are, showing compassion and humility without passing judgment and sharing with those who have fallen on tough times.

Of course schools are now much more multi-cultural and sensitivity towards all faiths and beliefs is a very important part of delivering an inclusive curriculum. Cultural awareness and understanding is a crucial life-skill for the future. Many schools also give year-round focus on their own core values which under-pin the curriculum and how their school community lives and works together.

However, it’s my view that tactfully embracing the message behind the Christmas story through the traditional nativity play is part of raising a generation with both values and cultural understanding, emphasising what is meant by compassion, humility, tolerance and a sense of community.

Happy Christmas!