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My toddler goes to a preschool and school on alternate days. Because we were late for school one day I became aware that children are made to stand still and sing national anthem – every day. That took me totally by surprise. I had no idea that this was a part of education. I am a relative newcomer to Canada and do not know the tradition and history of that. Is this also practiced at the kindergarden? What do you guys think about this? How about people from other countries are your children singing national anthem daily?

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asked 22 Nov '10, 05:17

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Gosia
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Could be a Community Wiki question perhaps?

(22 Nov '10, 16:05) Emi

Strong and potentially unpopular opinions ahead.

In the USA, it's common for students to recite a daily pledge of allegiance. In many places, kids can "opt out", though I recall that it's very hard to resist the pressure and be the only student to do so. I never heard of this daily exercise extending to the national anthem, but then again, ours is particularly difficult to understand, let alone sing. So maybe if it had fewer difficult notes, we'd force kids to do that, too.

I disagree with forcing/pressuring students to sing national songs, take oaths or pledges, etc., for a few reasons: (1) When forced, it's not an honest utterance on their part, so what's the point? (2) It seems unfair and weird when some of the students may not in fact be citizens (such as yourself), or may have religious, cultural, or conscience-based reasons not to do it; and (3) in my opinion, "good" countries generate allegiance through justice and opportunity, if you need to force people to recite a particular set of words, you're doing it wrong.

This doesn't mean the kids shouldn't hear and learn such things as part of their studies -- they should know the culture and tradition of the country where they are residing, including the various oaths and songs, as well as their specific history and meaning. What I object to is forcing kids to do it by rote on a daily basis, no "instruction" or context involved, just an expectation that they must perform some kind of daily nationalistic ritual as a condition of getting an education.

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answered 22 Nov '10, 08:15

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lgritz
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+1 on the forcing/pressuring part. Even when you are free to abstain, peer pressure will do the rest. Also I had no idea about this being practiced in the US or Canada. Wow. +1 on the not being an honest utterance on their part. It's just something they do every morning and they don't understand it at first (so from the state's perspective, the earlier you start this, the better).

(22 Nov '10, 16:30) Alexander

You were asking about other countries but I thought you may be interested in the history of 'Oh Canada' and some other information on the anthem.

It is sung in Public school and most private schools across the countries every morning from kindergarten until the end of high school. Most schools play it over the intercom and the children stand and either listen or sing. I haven't heard of it sung in a pre-school before. It probably depends on the pre-school.

If it bothers you, I am sure you can explain it to your child's teacher so your child can opt out of singing it.

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answered 22 Nov '10, 15:55

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+1 @nikjoyce, that's what I was going to say :) I don't think they play "God Save the Queen" at closing exercises anymore, though. (Which was the norm when I was in school.)

(22 Nov '10, 16:00) Neen

The only time I remember hearing 'God Save the Queen' was at remembrance day services at school. That was 7+ years ago.

(22 Nov '10, 17:56) nikjoyce

Yeeaah, I graduated 20(cough) years ago. When my oldest son started K 13 years ago, it was already gone.

(22 Nov '10, 18:57) Neen
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To to exact, I don't recall the older primary grades "singing" it, and highschoolers are certainly "too cool" to sing it. You just had to stand while they played it - that' my memory anyway.

(25 Nov '10, 01:33) Scott ♦♦
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That's true. From what I remember even most elementary kids are 'too cool' to sing it. Mostly it is just played each morning while the kids stand and have the option to sing along.

(25 Nov '10, 02:42) nikjoyce

We live in Canada. When I was a child we always had the national anthem and the Lord's Prayer in the morning. This was in public school. Somewhere around the middle of my elementary school "career" they stopped making us recite the Lord's Prayer and it just became a moment for "silent prayer or meditation".

From my perspective it's a bit silly. If you come from a spiritual household, you can get all the praying you need in before you come to school.

While the singing of the national anthem is pretty tame, as an adult you become a lot more concerned about the government being in control of education, and making the children get up and sing the national anthem is a bit 1984-ish if you ask me.

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answered 23 Nov '10, 11:27

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Wow, I'd forgotten about the Lords Prayer, your school kept that up a lot longer than mine did. We stopped doing it when I was in the 2nd grade.

(23 Nov '10, 15:57) Neen

As you may know from my previous answers here, I am in Canada, but I also come from Germany. At least in Bavaria every class room had to have a crucifix or cross. However, in 1995 the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that it is against the constitution to require this. However most schools still put one up unless someone complains loudly enough ...

(23 Nov '10, 17:23) Alexander

I graduated from a public (i.e. non-Catholic) high school (in Canada) in 1987 and we did the Lord's Prayer every day. In fact, our principal read a number of different versions of it and earned the nickname "The Pope".

(26 Nov '10, 13:06) Graeme

In the UK, as far as I have seen, no-one sings the anthem or has an oath or pledge in school. Whenever I saw it on American TV, I thought it was a bit creepy.

We do officially have a 'daily act of worship' that should have a 'broadly Christian theme' from the age of 4/5 upwards, but most secondary schools ignore this. I think that's the closest we get to some united cultural influence in schools.

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answered 29 Nov '10, 08:29

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pete the pagan-gerbil
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+1 on the creepy!

(30 Nov '10, 00:57) Alexander

In Israel, my 3 year-old doesn't sing any national anthem or recite a pledge of any sort. Her preschool focuses on children's songs, holiday songs and so on.

To the best of my recollection, when I attended elementary school (more than 20 years ago) we used to sing the national anthem once a week during a school assembly, but I doubt that practice is common anymore.

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answered 23 Nov '10, 05:18

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Yuval
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From what my daughter has told me, she says the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school. She is also learning patriotic songs (National Anthem, America the Beautiful). At this age I don't mind the compulsory practice because I do think it is important for her to learn these things. However, as she gets older, if she wants to opt out, that will be her choice. Though in my experience, once I hit Junior High, I only said the pledge during Girl Scout flag ceremonies.

I did have some classmates who abstained from the Pledge for religious reasons when I was in grade school. They didn't make a big deal out of it, and out of respect for their classmates, they stood with us, though they did not put their hand over their heart or say anything. IMO, that is the way to handle it if you do not want your child taking part. I would also suggest that you talk to your child's teacher so that she knows your wishes and can help you child stand firm. She can also talk to the class about reasons why someone may not take part in a patriotic activity.

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answered 22 Nov '10, 14:59

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mkcoehoorn
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I am also currently in Canada and I had no idea they do this. Thanks to the other answers, I know what's done in the US. I had no idea about that either. Explains part of the patriotism in the US though.

In Germany this is not done. Not in kindergarten and not in school. And I am glad about that. I am against such patriotic indoctrinations for obvious reasons. We know what that leads to.

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answered 22 Nov '10, 16:24

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Alex thank you for your answer it resonates with me deeply. I think that my concern for my son stemmed from similar reasons. Thanks again

(23 Nov '10, 13:53) Gosia

In my school we say the pledges everyday and once a week we sing the national anthem. I see no harm in teaching children to love thier country. I would not call it indoctrination. America is a free country and we should teach our children appreciation for our country. The pledge is not forced on children. They are taught is as a routine for thier day. If we do not teach them to respect the American Flag who will. Men and women in our military put thier lives on the line just so we have have those freedoms. The least we can do is teach our children love for our God and country.

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answered 29 Apr '11, 16:38

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Interested that you argue that children need to be taught to respect the American flag. I always believed that respect was earned rather than taught.

(07 May '11, 13:40) Meg Stephenson

I live in NZ. Our kids, 5 and 3 have just learnt the national anthem at school/Kindy, I suspect this was more to do with the rugby world cup than national patriotism. They don't sing it every day rather it just one of a number of songs that they have been taught. At present it is Christmas songs.

I think it is good for them to know it although they are most likely to hear it connected to sporting events than anything else.

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answered 02 Dec '11, 20:12

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When I was in school we sang the National Anthem in English, French and sign language. We had students who did not participate and we were taught to be respectful of everyone whether they did or not. When we had new students we were taught to ask questions and encouraged to learn about others beliefs and ideas. A child is taught what respect means. They do not just Know how to be respectful, just as they need to be taught everything. The best way to do this is to show them. Once they have an understanding of what respect is they can choose whether that person or country deserves it. Showing your child not to respect the country they live in and other peoples beliefs is really not beneficial to them. Growing up in a household of a family that was proud of our country made me feel proud to be a Canadian. If I had grown up in a household that didn't care about its country I would probably not care as well. And I would be one of the MANY who don't vote or take an active interest in helping better their country. Is this what you would like to pass down to your child? A legacy of indifference? Disrespect? So much that is taught to our young carries on through the rest of their lives. And one last thing to the person who says, respect is earned rather then taught, you don't get respect from people unless you command it. If I allow people to treat me bad how are they going to learn to respect me??

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answered 24 Nov '11, 20:29

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Asked: 22 Nov '10, 05:17

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Last updated: 28 Dec '11, 06:13