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deletedOct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023
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Yes this seems like a predictable (and funny and pointless) result - rebranding holidays.

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In the South anti-Halloween sentiment is more common amongst just plain Christians so we have story book character day. Where students dress up as their favorite book characters and we do pumpkin related activities.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

I'm guessing that this idea that "you can do anything" messaging showered on the young also makes it harder to transition to adulthood - at some point, people stop showering you with those kinds of encouragements and you are expected to do your fucking job. Both finding out that you can't do anything just because you would like to, and abruptly hearing way less of that sort of encouragement just as you are becoming responsible for making your own way, I wonder if this in part explains the failure to launch scenarios of many late 20s living with their parents.

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That's fair - I think in the US living with your parents in your late 20s or beyond is correlated with other things like not having the financial ability to live on your own even though you would like to and feeling a lack of agency in finding work that is fulfilling and sufficiently lucrative. But if someone was happily living with their parents, I wouldn't want them to feel undue pressure to move out, and can see how the culture of judging people who live with their parents being counter to that.

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I think the "you can do anything" civic religion described in the OP would better explain dissatisfaction and unhappiness with one's actual prospects than the "failure to launch" in itself. The latter is better explained by wages against vital expenses like housing, food, and healthcare and the general unviability of the American Dream trademark brand of independence and autonomy. I can just as easily imagine a well-paid homeowning gas station night shift clerk on track for a management promotion who is nevertheless suffering from the malaise that comes with a mismatch between aspirations, ability and actual life paths as I can imagine the (much closer to real life) underpaid clerk who lives with family out of financial necessity despite desiring to move out. It seems to me to be more about what you do and what would satisfy you rather than the shame of living with one's parents for too long, which is more of ancillary concern that the other commenter noted is informed by a particular sociocultural context. I'd add that marriage and reproduction determine new household formation in much of Latin America and the US insistence that children get the boot for work or university somewhere between 18 and 22 years old is seen as cold, cruel, and financially foolhardy.

Freddie's point about disability is relevant here, too. The presupposition that a successful "launch" includes permanently moving out of one's childhood home is a part of the cultural burden of shame that people with disabilities and their family members have to shoulder. Even when individual families come to healthy terms with what this means, the broader society includes this element as one more reason to view them as objects of pity and condescension.

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And it's not just that the attitude swings wildly but that people are so immensely condescending about it once it does. "Follow your dreams!" "OK, I want to be a poet." "Hahaha, you thought you could be a poet and pay the rent? What kind of a moron are you?"

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I don't have any great concern about telling elementary school kids they can be astronauts or president of the United States. I'm not sure it helps anyone, but I'm skeptical it harms anyone either. This kind of magical thinking seems not to fool children into making poor choices. But the high schools and colleges do need to be more honest about the somewhat-less-magical-but-still-highly-improbable. You are a B+ student at Syracuse that doesn't speak Mandarin. You can't do original research and you aren't going to become a tenured Chinese history professor. I get that you love animals, but you have an 1100 SAT and are attending Penn State Altoona. You aren't getting admitted to veterinary school.

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I think the best message is not “you can be anything if its your dream” but rather “you can be (almost) anything if you work hard and are strategic about achieving your goal”. I dont want to live in a society that doesn’t encourage people to dream big, but we should also teach them to be realistic and smart about their dreams

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I love the old Eastern European saying "If you want to follow your dreams, first learn a trade. That way if your dreams don't work out, you can still earn a living."

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

The plot of pretty much every Hollywood movie since about 1964 or earlier has been "If you really believe in yourself, if you are true to Your Authentic Self at the expense of everything else, you can do it! Good things will come your way!"

As opposed to "quit navelgazing and grow up!"

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I watched The Exorcist last night - there are definitely exceptions to this statement

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The cultural practice "you can do anything," combined with the experience of a social world in which it appears anyone can become rich and famous, have conditioned a lot of the younger generations to see anything that stands in the way of their greatness as an injustice.

And the societal level at which this petulance is accepted keeps getting raised. Didn't get the grade you wanted in your Chem 101 class? Get the professor fired. Haven't been promoted to the upper ranks of the managerial class? Sulk on Linkedin. Or file a lawsuit.

All while also voicing the belief that not everyone should be able to self-actualize if they come from the wrong background: too advantaged, too represented in society.

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Am additional element seems to he the rigidity and pressure created in the "finding your passion" narrative. The myth that we all have one thing we'll love above all else, be great at, and be rewarded financially for it is very limiting (and many times it translates into life being sort of on pause until you find it). I think more people make lateral moves, change careers, and at some point find they didn't love what they thought they always would more than Is advertised.

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Yes, I like what Cal Newport has to say about this - getting good at something - anything - can be more rewarding than finding your "passion" - and with skill comes the kind of autonomy (what he calls "career capital") that allows one to make small steps to adjust one's work to be more satisfying - even in line with passion!

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I firmly believe that this is the way. Find something you're good at that's reasonable lucrative and use it to gain self confidence, financial stability, and free time to work on your real passion. I suppose this mainly applies to people with creative aspirations because if your passion is teaching or medical research or something it'll be easier to make that into a viable career. But for creatives, unless you're independently wealthy the best path is to become your own rich dad.

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"You can do anything!" teaches, implicitly, that success is a matter of approval of some authority figure, rather than anything based in the material world. As you get older, you get in hit in the face with materiality. If you want to be a computer programmer, but programming is really hard for you and you aren't that creative at it, than there is nothing a boss, mother, spouse, teacher or anyone else can say to encourage you that will get to you to consistently create good programming code that does what its supposed to do. You either learn to create the material thing to a satisfactory degree, or you do not. But some people really get stuck insisting that someone's approval is what will make the situation better.

Of course, any kind of job that doesn't force you to deal with materiality is going to allow you to live in "You can do anything!" land for a longer period.

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All of this stuff occasionally feels like a load of AWFL bureaucrats (private and public sector alike) took away the wrong message from Snoop Dogg's "Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None)".

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All good points, Freddie, and as usual very well articulated. I raised 3 kids with the idea that reasonable goals were the way to go. I recognized my own limitations when I was pretty young and also realized success has a lot of luck involved . Reasonable expectations (including about other peoples' behaviors) leads to a lot less disappointment and fewer emotional upsets. I never dreamed big and ended up with way more than I expected.

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Orwell said that the story of every life when seen from the inside is mostly a story of failure. Anyone who can't acknowledge that truth is an emotional and intellectual child and shouldn't be in charge of anything.

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Great piece as usual, Freddie.

On the Halloween piece specifically, my theory is the concern is that low-income kids don’t have access to the same types of costumes as their better-off peers. That was less of an issue in the past, when homemade costumes were the norm, but these days there really is going to be a difference between the kid wearing a blue t-shirt with an S on the front and a red sheet for a cape and the kid whose parents forked out $30 for DC’s official costume.

I’m not sure why that’s worse than all the other ways people can tell the poor kids from the rich kids every other day of the year, but it’s the only explanation that makes any sense to me. It’s not like people opposing Halloween for religious reasons are a new thing.

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Agree- but isn’t this what PTAs are for (or should be)? Send a note to the parents saying we are doing a costume party - we don’t want your kid to feel left out so let us know if you need some help.

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It should be, and I don't know why they aren't stepping up in that way.

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There's other barriers besides money. Some parents would not read or respond to the note, due to lack of time, literacy in English or just plain not caring.

A lot of kids wouldn't be able to get help with a homemade costume either, for similar reasons.

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But the joke here is actually on the kid whose parents paid for an expensive costume that looks exactly like the costume that five other kids' parents paid for. The most interesting costumes are always going to be homemade.

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My town had Trick or Treat on Friday night, and we had at least 200 kids show up in two hours. There were a couple costumes that looked funny and interesting when I saw the first kid with it. But then I saw the same costumes several more times later in the night, and those off-the-shelf costumes bought at the Spirit Halloween pop up store didn't seem so interesting anymore.

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My son's Railroad Crossing costume is top notch!

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Religious extremism isn't new (my own mom denied me Halloween for a couple years during an exciting pentecostal phase) but neither is poverty, so I don't know why that rules out one explanation but not the other? I'm also pretty sure I've seen the "kid is sad cause Mom-made costume isn't cool, Mom is sad because she can't buy a nice one" storyline depicted in popular media many times over.

I think increaing concerns about inclusion would explain it just fine. Activities everybody can't participate in aren't as acceptable as they once were. But there might be something to which religious exceptions are seen as modal. In places where there are growing groups of non-christian religious groups that don't let their kids do Halloween, excluding them may be seen as much more objectionable than excluding the Christian fundies, for irrational but very zeitgeisty reasons.

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OK but again, how does recognition of Hanukkah or similar survive under that logic?

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I think you spoke to this somewhat yourself. Celebrating Hanukah or Eid are likely framed as opportunities to celebrate minority cultures and educatate the mainstream children. Harder to frame Halloween as such. Doesn't make a ton of sense but I suspect this is part of it.

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Doesn't make any sense! "We can't celebrate that which all students can't participate in, but let's celebrate a holiday from a tiny minority of the population" is just senseless.

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I agree! I thought this is was roughly what you were saying here:

"Are Hanukkah celebrations out? The vast majority of kids don’t celebrate. Should we shut down any dreidel playing in public schools, under the identical logic that most kids will feel excluded? How about Eid? Barely more than 1% of Americans are Muslim, after all. Doesn’t that mean that recognition of Eid in the classroom is a matter of introducing a holiday that not every student celebrates? Or Indigenous People’s Day, given their percentage of the overall population? Ah, but of course the whole DEI thing only really applies to majority imposition on minority rights - the fact that Halloween is a secular holiday enjoyed by the vast majority of children perversely makes it more of a target for exclusion, not less."

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Celebrating minority holidays is an opportunity for the (white, Christian, evil, colonizer) majority to Learn About Diversity, but Halloween just makes the (nonwhite, nonchristian, noble, oppressed) minority kids feel left out.

I don't *agree* with that line of thought, but I can kind of see it?

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I would have been happy if my school growing up had just totally ignored Hanukkah…I feel almost condescended to, in a way, when general/secular institutions make a big deal out of Jewish holidays. (Look at us, being so accepting! See how we’re including you!) Leave the menorah decorations for the Jewish cultural centers, don’t put them in the lobby of every single dorm at the University of Chicago.*

I’m aware that I’m a massive outlier here — most Jews I’ve heard talking about this say that they feel genuinely happy and included by this stuff. This might be because I’m an atheist and have been non-practicing since I graduated from high school. That said, I did already feel a sense of “othering” as a child (not that I had that word for it), before I was an atheist (or maybe just before I knew I was one).

*used as a placeholder for the sake of argument/anonymity, I did not actually go to to the University of Chicago and have no idea if they put up menorahs in the dorm lobbies

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I could be wrong here, it's not like I've done a study, but it seems to me like when I was a kid in the '80s, the mix was basically 75% homemade, 25% store-bought. Now that ratio is flipped. I recognize the trope you're referring to, though.

Do non-Christians object to Halloween? It's one of the most secular holidays there is. (Well, technically, it's pagan, but still -- it's not from a specific modern religion.)

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

A little googling suggests that Muslim objections to Halloween are similar to Christian objections, and I'd bet an arm there's a similar spectrum of belief from "harmless fun" to "definitely haram", though I'm sure the distribution over it is different. Apparently it's right out for JWs (no big surprise) and most Orthodox Jews as well. (ETA, remembered Mormons among whom opinions also differ.)

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Yeah, I should have googled that one. Definitely seems like there’s a mix of opinions among Muslims.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

(I didn't mean to imply a LMGTFY moment btw, I was curious myself.)

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No, I didn’t read it that way. All good.

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I think the answer to “do non-Christians object to Halloween” is yes, on what I would (maybe uncharitably) call “genetic fallacy grounds”.

That is, since it has been a Christian festival (syncretized with a pagan festival!), celebrating it in *any way* is a no-no. Even if you yourself don’t believe in Christianity and are only performing the parts of the holiday that don’t require belief in anything.

It’s the same argument that you sometimes hear when people say that companies shouldn’t hold festive dinners in December, because “even if you call it a holiday party, it’s really a Christmas party, so it’s not secular!”

I remember at my childhood synagogue, the Hebrew school teachers told us that Jewish children shouldn’t be celebrating Halloween, and if we wanted to dress up in costumes, we should do it at Purim (in February/March) instead. The number of kids who actually followed that advice, I believe, was pretty small.

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Yes—my school district, for one, strongly implied that potential financial burden on lower-income parents was a primary reason there wouldn’t be a Halloween celebration. I suspect they also wanted to avoid the slightest possibility of someone showing up in a “culturally insensitive” costume. That was a concern even when I was a kid—notes were sent home saying “No witch costumes! No feather headdresses!”, etc—and attention to DEI issues has skyrocketed since then.

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Yep, I suspect cultural sensitivity is a strong secondary reason.

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What culture are witches offensive to? Evangelical Christians?

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I grew up in a pretty liberal area, so I think the idea was that witch costumes were potentially offensive to Wiccans.

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Almost everyone in my (affluent) school had homemade costumes - they were creative, fun, and you could actually take pride in your idea.

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founding

I loved the coat hanger Pippi Longstocking braids my mom made for me!

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TP is cheap and plentiful and can be used as mummy wrappings. Worked out pretty well, but didn't last long.

Sorry if that triggered any Egyptian pagans.

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No true Egyptian pagan would be triggered by a cat!

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

They might be triggered by a mummy, though. "Cultural appropriation" or something.

I have no idea what sets humans off these days and it makes my head hurt trying to keep track.

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But misspelling “falcon falcon palm frond cat” as “falcon palm frond cat falcon” might set them off.

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My sister and I are first generation children of Ukrainians. Halloween was most definitely not our parents radar when we were in elementary school so every year we would wear our traditional Ukrainian clothing for Halloween. The things were wore to Ukrainian dancing and festivals. This was back in the early ‘60’s when most Americans had no idea there was an Ukraine. My sister and I always thought we were the lucking ones. Our “costumes” were beautiful, handmade and meant something.

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There was a girl in my class growing up whose mom was Ukraininan. She came in to discuss the culture and brought traditional clothes a couple times, and they were definitely gorgeous. I'm glad you and your sister appreciated them.

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Totally completely even to this day. My “Ukrainian-ness” provided me an identity that many of my peers did not have. I’m almost 70 now and I regularly wear my Ukrainian blouses under business suits or with jeans. It is who I am and my heroes were and still are my 4 Ukrainian grandparents and parents who bravely went where no one else in their tiny village could. They made it to America. And I support any other immigrant with that desire

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My kids school doesn't do Halloween but they do a "Character Parade" to top off the Book Fair, it was Friday. Kids had to dress up as book characters-so definitely not the reason in his school.

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This is the worst of both worlds. Now you probably need 2 costumes.

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Another thought that crossed by mind is that too many costumes are about violent characters, like superheroes. Is this about violence or perceptions of violence by some parents?

There is also plenty of room for offense for people to dress up as people they aren't allowed to pretend to be, and the difficult in explaining that to children.

Also, in middle schools, I wonder if they have issues with kids coming in way to sexualized outfits.

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founding

When I was a kid it didn’t occur to anybody that you’d wear a costume to school. You wore school clothes to school and costumes and dress up were done at home. There’s be a simple classroom party and some games the last hour or so of the day because most kids were so excited and antsy to get home and go trick or treating nothing could be accomplished other than controlling the mayhem. Lots less diversity then, and parents didn’t feel entitled to demand that something be celebrated or ignored because their kid could be left out.

I can see how it makes sense to just have a general “no holidays” policy in school. It won’t kill anybody to do their celebrating after school, but it does seem joyless and these are little kids.

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Wow, there are a lot of ideas in this short essay! The liberal desire for inclusion at all costs is starting to get pushback. I really enjoyed this piece from a few years ago challenging the cliche of the first or second-gen immigrant kid being made fun of in the lunchroom:

https://www.eater.com/22239499/lunchbox-moment-pop-culture-tropes

For parents, sports and music are a great way for your children to learn humility and to build emotional resilience! My son did Little League until he aged out, and then decided he wasn't that good and was done with it. He was fine. Now he's really into playing music with the various school bands and loves it, but there are constant reminders that someone is always better. It doesn't make him sad or frustrated...he appreciates their talent and pushes himself to get better in a healthy way. Our younger kid is starting to learn these lessons as well, but she has always been one to eschew competition in favor of individual or collaborative pursuits.

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founding

I wish someone had said, "You suck at gymnastics and it's okay to quit" before it got ridiculous. Eventually I was the oldest one in my level, and I just felt bad about my (normal, but not flexible) body every time I went. I suppose I understand why they welcome every kid, but as you get older there should be some honest feedback and. consideration of whether it's a good idea to continue.

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To be fair, there's also something to said with being mediocre and knowing that you'll never be more than an average gymnast/athlete/sudoku enthusiast/whatever, but striving on regardless.

As long as you are realistic about what you really are.

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founding

Right, that’s what makes it tough as a parent. When do you allow a kid to quit, vs. forcing them to stick it out? Often it’s hard to know what’s best.

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Does your kitten enjoy it?

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founding

He's little so most of these decisions are ahead of us. But he enjoys his one activity, and I'm glad I helped him through a brief rough patch.

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founding

When my parents bought me my musical instrument (after playing on a rental for 5 years) they put a timeline on it - I had to play until the end of high school. I did and then some. I wasn’t THE best but I understood their investment in me.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

If any of my kittens ever find themselves in kittengarden, I will demand that the school district provide them lunches of rodents, songbirds and the occasional rabbit.

To celebrate their culture.

Of course, tomcats are not known for taking much interest in the rearing of kittens.

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founding

he’ll probably appreciate being able to play an instrument later in life too! I continued as a hobbyist for awhile and recently joined a band as an adult.

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I hope so! There are actually quite a few all-ages bands that previously I had no idea existed. We've already had talks about what it would be like to try to be a professional musician and I don't think they are interested in that grind.

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founding

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with you on the Halloween thing. There are many, many more scenarios that involve kids whose parents can't provide a costume than there are scenarios where, for whatever reason, the parents don't want the kid to participate in Halloween for religious reasons. Being the kid whose mom or dad is too drunk or drug-addled to be arsed to get the kid a costume is humiliating. You also have parents who simply can't afford it, and not having to show up in costume at school preserves the dignity of both the parent and the child.

Looking at it from the perspective of the teachers--having the kids in their costumes all day must be a nightmare. Kid trips over another kid's tail. what to do with swords, pitchforks, helmets and other accessories? What about the kid in the onesie dragon costume having to go to the bathroom?

No. No. No. No. Just give them a cupcake in the afternoon and call it good. Save the costumes for trick or treating.

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author

1. Giving them a cupcake under the auspices of Halloween is precisely the sort of thing that's being banned.

2. I am deeply confused by the concern that the parents don't have money for Halloween costumes instead of focusing on, for example, heat in the house or food in the refrigerator.

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founding

First they come for the costumes....then they come for the cupcakes. It's been awhile since we had kids in the public schools but they were making noises back then about banning any kind of homemade treat due to allergy concerns. It's probably more a fear of being sued than it is a desire for equity and inclusion.

I'd be curious as to whether the other traditional afternoon cupcake holiday is now forbidden. Valentine's Day used to be brutal because there was always that one kid who only got Valentines from the 2 or 3 kids in the class whose mothers made them give a Valentine to everybody.

Edit: Yes, I'm concerned about kids who don't have food or heat. I'm beyond incandescently angry about the child tax credit being politicized and abandoned. Every human being deserves a baseline level of resources, but we choose to spend wildly on old people and leave families to eke out what they can. There are, as shitty and threadbare as they are, public assistance programs for food and heat, but sadly none for dragon costumes.

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I’ve long heard stories about The Unpopular Kid Who Got No Valentines, but I’ve never encountered a school that didn’t have a blanket “everyone brings valentines for the whole class, no exceptions” rule. Where were the schools that weren’t enforcing that? (And I’m not terribly young—my elementary days were the 1990s)

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I started attending school in 1980 and of course everyone brought Valentines for everyone. For heaven’s sakes, they come in packs of dozens at the drug store— surely children weren’t buying thirty cards, just to give out 5 or 6 to the popular kids?

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There are solutions to this. I can find 200 women on any given day at Michael’s or Joann, mostly retired and bored, who would love nothing more than to help underprivileged kids design and make costumes.

But also - these things are mass produced, piling up in landfills, and cost about 99 cents at Goodwill. If schools are concerned, they can easily hold a free costume bazaar the week before Halloween.

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I have flashbacks to honors math classes in 9th and 10th grade. Most kids who couldn't hack it dropped out and moved to regular math, but not David. We would spend almost the entire class (so it seemed, likely 10 or 20 minutes) going over the previous day's work at detail because David didn't understand it. It was frustrating for the entire class. His parents wouldn't let him drop.

On the other hand, as a parent of autistic children, I have battled schools since kindergarten. At the same time, I accept their limitations, but I still hope they can eventually live normal adult lives..... it was nice when we found disability focused groups, such as Miracle League. We had tried them in normal sports and it was a disaster, for them, for us, for the coaches. Accepting that normal activities don't quite work is difficult, but liberating.

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Another compelling part of Lutz's book is how she demonstrates that activists are trying to shut down any autistic-specific services like Miracle League, under the logic that they are segregationist.

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Which is so insane. My sons first did the "noncompetitive" Miracle League. It is just one giant feel good fest. Balls flying everywhere, a buddy for the boys to help them around the bases and to get the ball, etc.

After a few years, they were moved to the "competitive" league. It still was not strict baseball, but it was great. No buddies to help, there were a variety of functional teens and young adults with various issues, including Downs, autism, etc. They even kept score!

Anyone trying to shut this down HATES disabled folks.

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founding

I know some autistic adults who oppose that sort of thing. The problem is that they seem to think that all autistic people are like them, when in fact it’s called a spectrum for a reason.

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Unfortunately, rigid thinking and attempting to impose that on others is often part of autism....

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I'd like to put forward the radical proposition that school activities should revolve around the classroom, and not around Halloween, Hanukah, Eid or any other festival that gets celebrated in full in countless other civic, family and religious spheres.

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author

Yeah I can get behind that. On the other hand, you've got to give the kids a little sugar, metaphorically and literally.

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How about art class, music class and the gym?

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founding
Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

I’d like to counter by saying school was the only place I had as an only child from a small town whose parents were atheists. There were no other local opportunities for me to engage with other kids until I was at least 12.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

Not only is it impossible to make everyone happy, but some inclusions are privileged over others.

Suppose the local creationists were to demand that the Science Fair takes their claims seriously?

Suppose the local skinhead family were to complain that Anne Frank Day triggers them and makes them feel unsafe?

Lessee, why can't students majoring in street pharmacology use the school chemistry lab to test their hypothesis concerning "L-Carbylase as a Phosgene Substitute For Industrial Scale Production of Tranq - Shit is *Tight*, Yo!{"

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Following one's dreams incurs a price. The further one is from having what would traditionally be considered the capabilities to achieve the dream, the higher the price. Even when you have all the requisite abilities, following a dream exacts a toll. If someone wants to follow their dream, and pour everything they have into it, I think that's a great thing to attempt; there can be honor and character built even if they fail. But adults should be up front about the cost.

As for equity in favor of removing Halloween? The more I see of equity, the more it shows itself to be the "chopping everyone's legs off so that everyone is equally short and no one can see the baseball game" version of the cute little cartoon cartoon scene.

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I have always found it a bit baffling that an athlete who abandons everything, education, relationships, long-term health, etc. to chase Olympic gold or whatever is celebrated for his determination, but a human female whose sole focus in life is her looks is considered shallow.

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That’s a provocative thought that I’ve never considered.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Nov 13, 2023

That IS a good point indeed. I would imagine the competition in super-modeling is probably just as brutal, and requires an extraordinary amount of determination as well. And the success window in terms of age is probably similar too.

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Oct 30, 2023·edited Oct 30, 2023

I suspect without knowing that the competition is a bit different than, say, football. More like getting in front of and underneath the right people in the right settings.

To be fair, I am yet to hear of any pro athlete, male or female, who slept his way to the top. Maybe that's the difference.

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Different of course. One requires an inordinate amount of mental and physical stamina, endurance, and will, and the other is a sport. I'm kidding of course. :) But the modeling world is still easily one of the most competitive and exclusive arenas in the world.

I haven't heard of that either, but only because it's physically impossible that sleeping with the club owner will translate to on-the-field gains. If it somehow could, it would happen.

The reverse is also true though - a model who can dunk is meaningless. I would also add that great looks begets attraction begets sex. Modeling and sex appeal are sort of wrapped up together, the same can't nearly be said of athletes - at least for females that is. Male athletes have an advantage there I suppose.

This is some tangent we're on here...

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Well, the unspoken assumption seems to be that there is a moral quality to sport that doesn't exist in the world of modelling, acting or other appearance-based competitive professions.

Then again, judging from the numerous sordid stories of Athletes Behaving Badly, I question whether such a moral quality exists other than The Desire To Get Ahead, or at least it isn't exactly unique to sports or athletes. Or perhaps we're just projecting.

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Ah, I see what you mean here.

My guess is that the framework of sport itself is embedded with a code of fairness right from the start - each sport goes to great lengths to try and make sure everyone starts from the same place and plays by the same rules. And since individuals have to utilize this framework in order to participate (regardless of private shenanigans), then perhaps those intrinsic rules of fair-play make athletes seem more moral than they otherwise are. That's just my hot take though.

Sports tend to capture and magnify the spirit and identity of their communities/cities/nations like few other endeavors. Some of those European soccer fans would be considered religious zealots if we didn't know better. Perhaps sports just get a lot of benefit of the doubt when it comes to lionizing athletes. People generally don't like to vilify the thing they spend every weekend valorizing over.

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Loose definition of athlete, but isn't that the gossip about Triple H? He's married to Vince McMahon's daughter...

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What is Triple H?

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Triple H was a wrestler in the WWE. Sometime in 1999 he started dating the daughter of WWE's CEO and soon afterwards he became a much more prominent star. Now he's married to her and has an executive position with the organization.

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I think top professional models are celebrated quite a bit. However, I'd agree that there's certainly a difference between how we value modeling vs. sports competition. The difference is present in dollars as well, though probably less so in status.

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I was unaware of the NYT piece, but it is perfect timing. My kids' (super liberal) school system has gone out of its way this year to ban Halloween. The nearby elementary school did a neighborhood parade for years, cancelled that last year and now is basically begging people not to send their kids in costume on Halloween.

One email included the vague equity, inclusion language, which was infuriating. The DEI people are really their own worst enemies most of the time.

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Is it that they are afraid of kids dressing up as other people's cultures?

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founding

Oh good point. I was an "Indian" in 5th grade, and that's why I can never run for office.

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That and your tourmaline obsession. 😜

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I don't think that's it. This school district has long prided itself on being inclusive and culturally sensitive long before "DEI" was a thing, and they've done a good job with that for the most part. But they seem to have gone too far here. Perhaps this is a response to feedback from some immigrant families who are Pentecostal or evangelical, but that's just speculation.

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I think administrators discovered that they can use the "equity" excuse to get out of having to deal with anything.

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I haven't looked at the vague language justifying the ban on Halloween costumes, but the main justification that I would have jumped to is that costumes require a bit of disposable funds and some time on the part of the parents, and a child whose household doesn't have those resources and who sees most of their friends showing off cool costumes in school might feel that this is being rubbed in. I can understand some concern about that. At the same time, I still tend to come down on the side of not depriving the rest of the class based on this, especially given Freddie's point that in the age of Instagram and TikTok all of this is going to be rubbed in anyway. (Although, I don't know, do kids without the resources to get Halloween costumes have much access to social media? Not having been a kid or parented a kid during the age of social media, I don't have a clear idea how that works.)

All that said, when I was growing up, I don't recall any kids going to school in costume at all around Halloween (maybe a tiny bit, with a few students, in high school, but a minority). Halloween felt like a several-hours-long evening holiday, completely separate from school, apart from a few decorations put up in the classroom. I honestly can't recall teachers giving out candy, even. Has it really become the norm for, say, elementary-school-age kids to show up at school in costume on Halloween?

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author

I mean, again, I understand the stated logic here, but it's an argument for the expanded child tax credit or some other robust anti-child poverty plan. Fixating on Halloween or similar seems like weird cargo cult logic. If the problem is that kids are poor, the problem is that kids are poor!

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Fair, but I think the issue is that schools (probably accurately) don't feel they have much direct power in influencing legislation like the child tax credit and so figure the best they can do is focus on these kinds of gestures that they can put into action, on the grounds that whatever we actually *can* do, however small, is better than floundering around doing nothing. I wish these small gestures didn't tend to come in a "depriving everyone of something to put everyone on equal footing" form, though.

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Except that it isn’t better than doing nothing, that’s the point. Cancelling Halloween (and decisions like it) make life measurably less fun for the vast majority of students and don’t actually help the poor students in any meaningful way.

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I think there are schools where it's normal. It was optional when I was a kid - we were also in a pretty heavily evangelical part of the country, so, a lot of kids who didn't celebrate, which made it easier. But "optional" can still be fraught for kids, who are really sensitive to the feeling of being left out.

I do think it's wise to try to adjust, however possible, to the economic realities here. I think the solution is what others here have said - just make it less elaborate. Don't encourage kids to wear costumes to school, but set aside a period for arts and crafts and have every kid make an accessory they're allowed to wear to the class Halloween party. Rich and poor kids have access to the same pile of glitter and markers.

There's this weird thing now where everything has to either be aggressively celebrated or banned, no middle ground--it's full-throttle school Halloween or it's forbidden. Kids know it's a holiday, they're excited that it's a special time of year, it can't be that hard for schools to acknowledge that while leaving the bulk of the celebrations up to the after-school hours.

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I really don't think money has anything to do with this decision. These schools all have field trips, activities etc that require student payments of cash with no easy alternative like "why don't you just wear an eye patch and say arrrgh a lot." This will be the school's response to some religious minority objection. In this case, most likely muslim.

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(Reposting from another reply above:) Halloween is not canceled because poorer kids can’t dress up, it’s because some (Muslim) parents have religious objections. At least, in my son’s public preschool class that’s the reason. There is a lot of poverty in our community as well but that’s not really a blocker for a Halloween party- for example, the school could easily provide cheap white bedsheets with holes cut out for eyes and any kid who didn’t have a costume from home would get to be a ghost. Problem solved! It’s just sad that the approach is “They don’t like this so no one gets to do it” instead of “let’s find a way for everybody to have fun.”

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If it is about families not having money for costumes, I get it. Have all kids make a mask to wear in school for the party/parade: problem solved. Now, some of those kids will be better able to create an artistically pleasing mask...

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It’s not about that, it’s about some parents having religious objections. But you’re totally right that in terms of the money thing, you could just have them make costumes and decorations with basic craft supplies, and have a little party in the classroom using what they made. And/or the school could easily provide cheap white bedsheets with holes cut out for eyes and any kid who didn’t have a costume from home would get to be a ghost. Problem solved! It’s just sad that the approach is “They don’t like this so no one gets to do it” instead of “let’s find a way for everybody to have fun.”

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Semi-related. We have several elementary schools in our town. Field trips at each school are partially funded by PTA funds, which have traditionally been raised at each school (so uneven budgets). This fact was pointed out, and the powers that be immediately cancelled all field trips for all kids at all schools because... equity. This includes field trips that cost zero dollars. Sharing budgets is apparently not an option because that does not resolve the disparity that some schools/PTAs spend more time planning field trips than others. Not sure how this one gets resolved.

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That's so sad. When I was teaching in an inner city school, field trips were so important. We got one a year, so me and another teacher combined our trips. These were kids who never went anywhere or did anything. They were agog when the bus crossed the river two miles from where they lived. I bet most of them had never seen the river.

How do you teach reading, the understanding comprehension part, with such a limited background? (You move along at a tenth the pace of an affluent class so you can fill in the context. ) I had only one kid who did afterschool sports, none had music lessons or any other sort of enrichment. Girl Scouts did an outreach program which was excellent.

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I'm sure we'll figure it out as a town. My concern is the urge to shut things down instead of doing a bit of problem solving. Feels somewhat similar to the Halloween ban.

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There's an episode of the HBO show Insecure where Issa's volunteering with a group of poor kids. She discovers that a ton of them have lived in LA their entire life but have never been to the beach so she takes them to the beach for the first time and they basically lose their minds because it's so exciting. I think about that a lot. That has to be a really common experience for kids growing up in poor neighborhoods with uninvolved parents and limited knowledge of the outside world. A single field trip could completely change their life.

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What I think people miss about limited background experience and limited language experience is how far behind it puts the kids who don't get that. They have trouble creating meaning in what they read because they don't have the prior knowledge to draw on.

The textbook I was using for reading with my 3rd graders was designed for one selection to be done in a week with a handful of vocabulary words. I had to provide background and they needed twenty or more vocabulary words. If I'd moved along at the same pace as their more affluent peers in the district, most of it would have just gone over their heads.

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Can you give some examples? Like are the kids just not familiar with a lot of basic concepts that are outside the scope of their immediate neighborhood? What kinds of things?

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It's been a long time. For example, landforms. Kids that haven't travelled out of their neighborhood haven't experienced, fields, creeks, streams, farms, rivers, oceans, forests. They haven't seen farm animals or squirrels. No one was shocked when there was a dead body on the way to school, and no one blinked an eye when one girl talked about visiting her father in prison.

This was suburban poor...apartments and trailer parks. They didn't know elevators or large highrise buildings, anything you'd find in a big city. They didn't know about museums or zoos or aquariums or trains or ships.

Their vocabulary was limited. Many of them were recent immigrants...though for the most part that was a positive, except their parents were working too much...but they came to give their kids a better life and valued education.

The much vaunted phonics doesn't work well when your students are non-standard English speakers or English as a second language speakers. This isn't bad, it just takes longer and you have to use slightly different strategies.

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Our town centralized all the PTA's under the equity umbrella so they all share budgets.

https://www.foiagras.com/p/pta-equity-fund-part-1

It's worked out, I guess but there are a hell of a lot of resentful people

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Good grief 😵‍💫‼️

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