Teaching Tolerance to our students - how to do it!
To understand the importance of teaching tolerance to our students in our classrooms.
Why is tolerance important?
Tolerance is an important element in human life that allows people to live together in peace and harmony. It means that you do not put your opinions above those of others, even if you are 100% sure you are correct. Tolerance is about showing strength in the fact that you can deal with people who have a differing opion, belief or perspective to you. This is an important element that we need to teach the students in our classrooms, especially as the diversity in our classrooms continues to grow.
But how do we do it? The following article is taken from the Matador Network: https://matadornetwork.com/change/7-ways-to-teach-kids-tolerance/
I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT if we want to make the world a more understanding place, we need to start with children. They are the impressionable ones that are still forming their perceptions of the world, and it’s so important for them to have positive role models and good influences in their lives. Not just in reference to religious and racial differences, promoting tolerance applies to gender, physical/intellectual disabilities, size, shape, and everything in between.
1. Promote openness and respect by demonstrating empathy and compassion through your words and actions. Besides not letting your child bully or tease someone else, watch what you say yourself! Treat others with respect, and your child will, too. Even comments about your own body (I feel fat, my brown/red/blonde hair is so ugly) can lead a child to make judgments about people in the world around him or her.
2. Encourage self-confidence. A child who is confident about him/herself will be more likely to embrace differences and see the value in others.
3. Honor traditions and learn about others’ traditions. Celebrate your family’s traditions and explore other holiday and religious celebrations that are outside of your own traditions and comfort zone.
4. Give them experiences with diverse populations. Sign your child up for summer camp, a workshop, or child care with a diverse group of kids. In my school district, we have a peer model program in our special education preschool classes so that typically developing 4 year olds in the community have the opportunity to go to preschool with children with special needs. Both the typically developing and the children with special needs can learn acceptance.
5. Travel with your kids (or move to another state or country). Allowing your children to grow experience a new and different environment will at the very least broaden their worldview and help them understand that people around the world are different. For more on this, check out Karen Banes’ article about the educational value of long term travel with kids.
6. Talk about differences respectfully. Talk about the differences among your family and friends (hair color, skin color, personal likes and dislikes), and use the opportunity to talk about how it’s good that people are different. You could also discuss how people are the same as well (i.e. you have blonde hair and your friend has brown hair, but you are both girls and you both have two eyes, two ears, one mouth, etc.).
7. Respond to children’s questions, even if you don’t have a “good” answer. Kids can ask hard questions, but your silence can teach a child that it’s not okay to talk about differences or “uncomfortable” topics. Even if you don’t know what to say, tell him or her that you will get back to them later with an answer. And be sure that you do.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Why do you think it is important to teach tolerance to our students?
2. What diversity do you experience in your classroom/school that broadens your students tolerance.
3. After reading this article, what will you change in your teaching practice to include tolerance into the educational experience in your classroom?
Please join the conversation by either answering these prompting questions above OR by adding your own ideas and thoughts around this topic in the conversation thread below.