On Teaching Faust

An elementary school teacher with a background in music in Bennett, Colorado, decided to expose her students to opera. She got a video, entitled “Who’s Afraid of Opera,” and showed it to her classes of first, second, and third graders.

The video contained scenes from Charles Gounod’s nineteenth-century opera “Faust.” Parents in this town outside Denver were not amused. From the Washington Post article:

“Any adult with common sense would not think that video was appropriate for a young person to see. I’m not sure it’s appropriate for a high school student,” Robby Warner said after two of her children saw the video.

Another parent, Casey Goodwin, said, “I think it glorifies Satan in some way.”

Six to nine year-olds. Should they be seeing Faust? Probably not. But the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil hardly “glorifies Satan,” not when the story is a cautionary tale.

Here’s the kicker:

She has sent letter of apology to all elementary school parents in Bennett, population 2,400 and about 25 miles east of Denver on Colorado’s eastern plains.

“I was definitely not sensitive to the conservative nature of the community, and I’ve learned that,” Waggoner said in Sunday’s editions of The Denver Post. “However, from what has been said about me, that I’m a Satan worshipper, my character, I can’t believe all of this. My intention was just to expose the kids to opera.”

The teacher may have shown poor judgment in choosing the video to show, but no one can fault her for wanting to broaden her charges’ horizons. And yet, the community has chastised her, she’s had to publicly apologize for basically doing her job, and she’s probably going to leave town because, in the article’s closing quote, she says, “I know I’m not accepted here, that I’m not welcome here by the parents.”


Children should have their minds broadened. They should be challenged, learn about things outside their everyday existence. Instead, with parents like those in Bennett, Colorado, these children will never have their minds grow beyond the narrow limits.

That’s why I worry for the future.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

2 thoughts on “On Teaching Faust

  1. It was a short excerpt from Faust, performed with sock puppets! And the video came from the shelves of the school library. It was created for the express purpose of exposing young children to opera.

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