Labor Day at schoolDoes your school or do you do anything to celebrate this day? I hardly even know the history as a teacher and wonder at the relevance other than having a nice long weekend to...
Does your school or do you do anything to celebrate this day? I hardly even know the history as a teacher and wonder at the relevance other than having a nice long weekend to start the school year.
Labor Day was celebrated on September 5, 1882, in New York City in accordance with the Central Labor Union. It seems that hundreds of laborers--carpenters, construction workers, blacksmiths, etc. marched down Fifth Avenue, THE street in New York at the time. On this avenue were the home of the Waldorfs, the Rockefellers, the Morgans, and other extremely wealthy, who were also uncaring about those who had provided their great wealth. The workers marched in protest against their having to work 72 hours a week for $12.00 a week.
It seems worthwhile to be reminded of the struggles that others have endured for our comfort. Those who have read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair certainly understand some of the terrible working conditions that Americans in the past have endured. These conditions were what caused the burgeoning of labor unions. On Labor Day, our country honors the hard-working individuals who possess the work ethic.
I have taught at schools that do not begin until the Thursday after Labor Day, begin in August, and others that have been year round. The only one that really had the kids learn about Labor Day was the year-round school. The Friday before every garde spent some time learning what it was about and the history of the holiday. They then had to think of way that they felt they could celebrate the holiday or help others remember the reason behind the holiday. Some of the students made a quiz and asked customers in a local restaurant to take the quiz after they ordered while they waited for their food. They were given the answers when they got their bills. Customers really enjoyed this trivia quiz.
No, but we also do nothing for Memorial Day, Presidents Day, or Thanksgiving other than briefly mention them in Social Studies. Unions have gotten a bad rap and a bad rep these past twenty years, and people have not suffered enough in the workplace to remember the struggles of past labor movements to get them the benefits and wages they enjoy now. Plus, I would say many labor unions (including the Teachers' Unions) have horrible public relations. It's almost comical how insulated they seem from how their actions are perceived by the public. So I would say the labor movement itself has not done much to educate the country and to celebrate our worker heritage.
I have never seen any school I have worked in even acknowledge Labor Day, except to have a holiday. I imagine that social studies teachers probably take the time to explain to their students the significance of the day, perhaps including a discussion of the labor movement in the United States.
One interesting side note: when I taught in northeast Atlanta in the 1980s, we always had an influx of kids enrolling the day after Labor Day. Their families had moved in from other parts of the country and assumed that school didn't start until the day after Labor Day.
I agree with the above post. Here in NJ, most of our public schools do not even start until the Tuesday or Wednesday after Labor Day (some private schools run on different schedules). So no mention is made of Labor Day. Also, there are few "celebrations." Our teacher's union has been under fire for some time and overall, the public has poor relations with public workers' unions.
Interesting question! I teach in New Jersey, and our school doesn't even begin classes for students until tomorrow. We've never done anything to celebrate Labor Day, since so many of us are so busy with beginning-of-the-year stuff. Since I have two American Lit classes this year, I'd like to be able to incorporate the history of the day into some of my early units.
I agree with #3--we do very little with most of our holidays in terms of the classroom. I do a lot of fundraising with my students; and, ironically, we generally work together on Labor Day (usually cleaning the AAA baseball stadium. We appreciate the extra time off from school, and we also appreciate the extra time to work. In the classroom, though--nothing.
Our school does have a day off which is perhaps surprising as it is an International School. However, apart from a nice break from the rigours of teaching and work, no mention is made of the reason behind that break and no celebrations are held. I guess it has become one of those holidays that may in the future phase out of the public consciousness?
Here in Kansas, school starts in mid-August and Labor Day is the first day off of the school year. Beyond that, no mention of it is made. It's surprising that even here-- the birthplace of American populism--that Labor Day is largely ignored or, at best, is merely an indicator that football season has arrived.
Florida is well into its school year come Labor Day. We do have the day off, of course, but I rarely direct any activities concerning the holiday. On one occasion I did have the kids write about their parents' job(s) and if they had the day off in honor of their labors.