Class Discussion about Tolerance

tolerance by ambar stefania, on FlickrOne effective, but simple, way to explore tolerance is to look at the ways people talk about the concept and then produce projects that share their exploration with others on campus. Here’s one way to accomplish that goal through in-class discussion and collaboration.

Session One

  1. Ask students to brainstorm on their understanding of tolerance. They can record personal experiences, working definitions, and responses to events in the news. The goal is to create a touchstone that they can return to later. There is no right or wrong answer. Everyone in a community can talk about tolerance for the values and actions of others.
  2. Move to UNESCO’s 1995 Declaration of Principles on Tolerance (alternate pdf). Article 1 of the Declaration specifically addresses the “Meaning of tolerance.” Ask students to read the entire Declaration, paying particular attention to that section.
  3. Discuss the definition in the Declaration and how it compares to the ideas in students’ brainstorming. Explore the language that is used in the document specifically. Unpack the complex words, and note how the document works toward inclusive language.
  4. If class time allows, students can work in groups, each taking one point of Article 1 and rewriting the explanation using less formal language. They can imagine themselves writing for younger students or writing sound bites for a general audience.
  5. After discussion of the Declaration, ask students to reflect on how the document relates to their earlier notes on the concept either in class or for homework.

Session Two

  1. Review the definition(s) of tolerance from the previous session, explaining that the class will spend time this session comparing to the ways that tolerance is discussed publicly.
  2. Share news articles about tolerance, intolerance, and bullying with the class. You can use local examples or stories from the Google News Search for the word tolerance. Review stories in advance to ensure they are appropriate for the classroom.
  3. Ask students to separate objective details and material from subjective details and material, noting how the information is used in the articles. Talk about how purpose and audience influence the information and the language that is used to present it.
  4. Have students apply their definitions of tolerance to the articles, considering these discussion questions:
    • Do the articles specifically use the word tolerance or intolerance?
    • Are other words used to describe tolerant (or intolerant) attitudes?
    • How does the perspective shift if you rephrase the pieces to use the antonym?
    • How does the discussion in the articles align with the UNESCO Declaration and the ideas they brainstormed in Session One?
  5. Finish the project by asking students to write about how one or more of the articles relates to their own or the UNESCO Declaration’s understanding of tolerance. Ask students to draw conclusions about how tolerance is discussed (implicitly or explicitly) and defined.
  6. Alternately, move the project toward sharing students’ exploration of tolerance outside the classroom. Ask student groups to create a text that explains tolerance and urges others to promote and practice tolerance every day. Check with your school’s office of equal opportunity office, student affairs, or residence life for help distributing students’ work to the campus community. Students can work on projects like these:
    • create posters that are displayed on campus.
    • write letters to the school or local newspaper.
    • produce video or audio podcasts that share their messages.
    • arrange a flash mob on tolerance.
    • design an infographic that presents details on tolerance.
    • create a playlist of songs that reflect tolerance, with notes on why they were chosen.
    • curate a display for the library or student center.
    • assemble a class photo essay to display on digital sign boards on campus.
    • write flyers, pamphlets, or brochures to distribute on campus.
    • post a meme-style campaign on social media, modeled on the photos in the image above.

 

This post updates and revises “Talk about Tolerance,” published in November 2016 on Bedford Bits in the Macmillan Community. The 2016 post was itself a revision of a post from November 2010.

 

Photo Credit: tolerance by ambar stefania, on Flickr, under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

Comments are closed.