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backdrop. They realized, however, that this would not be acceptable practice
since the Torah is holy text. Rather than pushing ahead anyway, they turned
to Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati for assistance. Eventually, a Samaritan
text was located and used for the production. Although use of this text was
considered acceptable by the Jewish community, it is still considered sacred
and therefore must be given to a synagogue at the end of the production
rather than discarded (Hutton 2001).
Educators should take note that having children make sacred objects in
school, such as many of those cited above, has been ruled by at least one
court as transgressing the separation of church and state. In White Plains,
New York, a federal judge found a school district in violation of the law for
allowing a teacher to have children cut out elephant-head images of the
Hindu deity Ganesha, make toothpick “worry dolls,” and build an altar for an
Earth Day liturgy (Zielbauer 1999; Associated Press 1999).
Goals for Early Childhood Educators
Our goals for educators reﬂect a deep conviction that learning environments
for all children will improve as teachers become more informed about speciﬁc
issues in diversity. In order to help future generations, we must ﬁrst inform
and guide teachers. Changing the way we teach is never easy. Patterns of
teaching and favored curriculum activities and materials can become deeply
ingrained. Thoughtful educators, though, never stop learning and improving.
Our goals, then, are directed at changing outcomes for children as well as
educating and empowering teachers to make appropriate choices of curricu-
lum materials and teaching strategies. The following chapters expand upon
Outcomes for Children
§ Understand similarities among all peoples
Children quickly perceive and comment on differences among people.
Through appropriate curriculum and sensitive teaching, they can also
begin to understand the similarities that link all peoples.
24 § Lessons from Turtle Island