Thanks for the advice. That's helpful.
I was too busy laughing about it, and in retrospect, I wish I would have complained. My daughter went to a private elementary school. It markets itself as a "non-sectarian school". It's a great school (I teach there and love it), but they do teach religious holidays. They present it in a way a Humanities class would, and I'm glad my daughter now understands world religions and cultures because of it. The "pray then play" sentence was on the back of the form and didn't really stick out. I am sure the secretary just saw it as another option for sports and nothing more. It was rather sneaky how it got stuck in there. I haven't seen the flyers in a couple of years, but I'll look for them. Even though my daughter is no longer there, I will say something if I see them.
And yesterday, my daughter's public school language arts teacher was going on and on about their "god given talents". She told the kids that they need more than straight As to get into the best high school. They need to be members of the Junior honor's society, and they need to volunteer at their church. My daughter piped up and said, "And what if we don't belong to a church? Does that mean we won't get into a good high school?" That girl cracks me up sometimes.... and other times, I wish she would hold her tongue. I was mad that the teacher is trying to make 7th graders feel any pressure at all. They are there to learn, not to worry about what high school they get into. I'm thinking of complaining, but I don't really have much to go on. Kids feel enough pressure to do well without having a teacher add more.
They complete to get into a "good" high school? Is this public high schools or is it a private high schools that they would be competing for? Outside of a few speciality public high schools, I thought you just went to whatever school was in your district.
I say "go girl" to your daughter.
That language arts teacher needs to be reported. I hope you do complain. At the very least the principal could talk with the teacher and make sure he/she understands that this is not an appropriate way to talk in the class.
I agree that kids get enough pressure to be religious. I don't think it's appropriate for a public school teacher to say such things.
Okay, my reply here is as a teacher, so take it as you will, but I don't think the teacher was intentionally doing anything wrong. Don't forget we live in a society where church-going is the "norm" and even though we're seeing more and more evidence that said norm is changing, most who are teachers now grew up in a time where it was not only the norm, but flat out assumed that everyone had SOME kind of "god" even if it wasn't the Christian one.
Second, as for the volunteering at a church to get into a good high school, again it comes back to our society. I was in a meeting just yesterday where we were given a list of 50 "supports" that every child should have at least some of. It had data and studies that showed that children with fewest of these "supports" had a correlation to increased drug use, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, etc.
Among these "supports"... "Spends 1+ hours per week at a church or religious institution." I assure you, that got my hackles up too, but the study was correlative not causative, and I'm sure many of the "good" kids in the study also went to church simply by virtue of the percentage of americans who do.
Anyway, my point being that because of that kind of thinking, many people (especially religious ones) think volunteering and religion/church are synonymous.
By all means, talk to the principal about it if you don't want to confront the teacher directly, but be careful about being too confrontational. Be informative instead. It's a simple mistake and if you're super confrontational/offended about it you're just going to trigger the fight or flight reflex in the teacher (yes we do still have those). Instead offer it as a learning opportunity. If possible, bring in alternative, non-religious places that would also be considered good for volunteer work for young students. That way, you're not just complaining, but offering an alternative as well.
I would guess that would be much more effective and productive for everyone.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Pirate Bard. I agree. I wasn't all that bothered by the church activity comment, but my daughter was, which then got me going. I'm a teacher too, and my philosophy is to always make as few waves as possible. I was more concerned that she was trying to scare these kids into thinking that doing their best in school wasn't enough to get into HS. These kids are all going to get into good high schools.
The comment really bothered my daughter (who unlike me, seems to leave a wake behind her wherever she goes). She is very outspoken, and we did talk about just letting those kind of comments roll of her back. I wrote the other comments when it was still fresh, and now, after thinking about it, it's not such a big deal.
I will take your advice about offering secular ways the kids can volunteer. Thanks again!
So often there is innocence at the core of those kind of remarks. The average person, religious or non, is not trying to pick a fight or sneak in a little jab. The simply don't think of us, unless we remind them, like Whos on a speck of dust, "We are here! We are here! We are here!"
Atheists will hate me for saying this, but...
The fact of the matter is that churches DO more community service. They offer more opportunities for volunteerism. They are a conduit for outreach. I worked in non-profit for almost a decade (granted in the south). I coordinated thousands of volunteers a year. Less than 10% of them were from a secular source. Of that 10%, almost all were from public school programs. The general public makes that association, because it is just the state of things.