Teaching Tolerance

As a Christmas gift to all of you, I’d like to tell you about the Teaching Tolerance web site. It’s been a wonderful resource for our family, and teachers (yes, even homeschoolers) can order free DVDs from the site.

Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Click here to read more about what they do. And click here to see their resources for teachers. (That’s where you get the DVDs!)

The site also has separate sections for parents, teens, and kids, which include materials on such topics as “How do parents’ own biases affect their children?” and “Ten Steps to Take Action” for teen tolerance activists. The kids’ section is called “Planet Tolerance,”  and it contains  interactive  stories and games.

Human rights issues loom large in our country. Hate crimes exist. Division seeks to creep into every crack. And at the same time we are becoming more diverse by the day. In my opinion, tolerance isn’t the luxury of “liberals” anymore; it’s a necessity for all of us if we wish to survive as a species.

Most of us first hear the word tolerance being used to mean endurance, as in “I know it’s hot today, but you’ll just have to tolerate it.”  Many of us still haven’t connected tolerance to its primary meaning:

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

The Teaching Tolerance Project serves an important function in our society. Please visit the site, explore what they have to offer, and order a few DVDs. This one is my favorite.

I wish you a Merry Christmas — or whatever holiday you celebrate. I wish you a merry season if you don’t celebrate anything at this time of year.*

*that’s  because I have a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose practices differ from my own.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    John said,

    “Tolerance” is an intersting term. Many of us can tolerate people of different faiths and colors, as long as we don’t let them move into our neighborhood.

    I think there’s something about human nature where we like to find area via which we can feel like we are “better” than the next person. This feeling of being better can come from race, religion, height, neighborhood, or a variety of other things.

    Merely teaching us to “tolerate” the others reinforces our belief that we are superior to those whom we are asked to tolerate.

  2. 2

    James said,

    I think the word “tolerance” is tricky. I found my way here from Black Sentinel’s site, where Susan just posted about tolerance, and like John, I’m skeptical about the word “tolerance.”

    To me, “tolerance” has the same connotation of putting up with someone or something, even if you don’t like them or it very much. It involves judging, or at least having fairly strong preferences.

    At the heart of this concept, then, is that idea that people are different in ways that mean we favor some over others. Isn’t this the very definition of prejudice? If we’re talking about race, for instance, isn’t it racist to believe that race matters, and that we don’t like people of some races (at least as much as others)? The same applies if we’re tolerating ethnicities, religions, etc.

    I could teach my children to tolerate, say, a bully. But I certainly won’t teach them that it’s okay to prefer people of one race or faith over those of others.

    Is there a way to understand this definition of “tolerance” without thinking of the concept in this way?

    Thanks,

    James

  3. 3

    […] Gaissert writes about Teaching Tolerance, a post about a great resource that’s perfectly aligned with the concept of “good will […]

  4. 4

    Amy K. said,

    “To me, “tolerance” has the same connotation of putting up with someone or something, even if you don’t like them or it very much. It involves judging, or at least having fairly strong preferences.”

    That’s true.

    “At the heart of this concept, then, is that idea that people are different in ways that mean we favor some over others.”

    Couldn’t agree more.

    “Isn’t this the very definition of prejudice?”

    No. If I have taken a considered look at a religion, culture, or behavior and have decided that it is superior to any other I have seen, then I find it/them to be better than all others. I don’t find everything in the world to be equal to everything else. That’s why we have to tolerate other things.

    Prejudice is different from tolerance, though sometimes people tolerate those things they are prejudiced against.


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