Teaching Tolerance – Developing Respectful Attitudes

Within the last few years there has been quite a bit of emphasis placed on reducing bullying within public schools. Once seen as little more than a rite of passage, educators are beginning to understand the negative effects that childhood bullying can have on an individual as they grow up and throughout adulthood. Recently, the subject has been thrust into the public spotlight due to some tragic events that resulted from individuals being bullied or made to feel like outcasts. The fact that no two people are identical is something that should be celebrated rather than ridiculed.

Teaching tolerance to a child is not only the ethical thing to do, but it also makes an incredible amount of economic sense considering the rapid globalization that is happening in today’s business world. It is more likely now than ever before that a child will grow up to do business with people from all over the world. A child that is raised to have respect for different cultures and ways of life will be much more likely to enjoy success in their career. The idea of tolerance goes beyond simply tolerating individuals with different lifestyles and actually involves developing appreciation and respect for others.

Young children should not be forced to pretend that everyone is the same. Children recognize the differences between people of different races, backgrounds, and religions but are not nearly as judgmental as adults. Children should be encouraged to discuss the differences that they see without being taught that they are good or bad. Curiosity should be encouraged as long as it is respectful rather than judgmental. Most individuals welcome questions regarding the things that make them different. Students should be prompted to find out more regarding the different cultures that they are likely to encounter at school.

While learning about the different customs and practices that different cultures participate is an excellent way for a child to become a more well-rounded adult, they should also develop an understanding that there are as many things that make people similar as there are that make them different. Regardless of where a person comes from or what language they speak or religion they practice, people from every culture work hard, have families, and deal with the same issues as others in the community. Students should also be encouraged to develop friendships that cross racial, cultural, and gender differences. This will help students to understand that the things that make us different as individuals also make us unique as a nation.

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