Sunday, 30 August 2015

Birthday Cake Debate


This morning when I was reading the news this article from the Sydney Morning Herald caught my eye: "Birthday cakes banned at Only About Sydney childcare centre in Surry Hills".

There are, without a doubt, people who will have the opinion that this is unAustralian and ridiculous and then there will be those who will be thinking "Hooray!". Most of you are unfamiliar with the fact that I am not afraid to weigh in with my own opinion, so here it is...

Having grown up in a very religious family who didn't celebrate birthdays or other occasions from the age of 4 I used to dread birthday parties at school in particular. Often I would be asked to leave the room and go to the library. It was very isolating as I felt as though I was being punished.


Over the years I got used to "missing out" on the cake and was glad to reach high school (thinking that was it) but no...In my first year of high school at what was known as the "Junior High Assembly" they would read out all the people who had a birthday that month, they would be asked to stand up and would receive a chocolate frog. My solution was not to stand up but I had to put up with the students around me telling me that my name had been called and I would get a frog.

Of course, then I left high school and sighed with relief....only to have to go through the entire process again at every place I worked. Some assumed everyone would participate (and the one year a boss didn't like my refusal I had to hold up against a 90 minute lecture from her about how I was letting the team down).

This is just one person's experience - but how many now in Australia's multicultural demographic do not observe birthday with the fanfare that goes along with it? And why do you want to celebrate at school with (in most cases) a bunch of kids that you are not friends with (plus the 4 you are)?

At the end of the day this is my opinion - birthday cakes, parties, invites (or whatever else) do not belong in a school environment during school hours. Most of these students bring a cake and extra food to school PLUS they have another party at home - why? This does come across as completely unnecessary. Birthday celebrations are not part of the Australian Curriculum and why should teachers have to take on another parental responsibility? Often these parties cut into teaching time and it is the teachers and cleaners who pick up the mess. Not to mention the competition that goes along with it as parents compete with the fanciest cakes and drinks - all of which is full of sugar.

I think this childcare centre has got it right - putting parties back in the home of parents - and away from other social interactions so that children can learn to get along without there being a 'reward' for it.

Big Birthday Cake (c) MyCuteGraphics
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