Talking about tolerance

Chintan Girish Modi

This website is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights organization based in Montgomery, USA. However, many of the classroom activities, lesson plans, teaching kits, professional development resources, and magazine archives it offers can be adapted to the Indian context by imaginative and resourceful teachers.

teaching-tolerance When talking about addressing issues of diversity, ‘tolerance’ is usually a term that does not sit well with me. It seems to have connotations of potential violence suppressed by the societal and legal compulsion to be civil. However, the ‘About Us’ page of this website offers an alternative way of looking at the term, which matches closely the UNESCO’s definition in its Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance. “Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. Tolerance is harmony in difference.”

This philosophy is beautifully reflected in the resources available. They cover a wide range – Exploring Gender Stereotypes through Dance, Imagining the Lives of Others, Fighting Back against Bullies, Exposing Hidden Homophobia, Disparities in School Lunch, Using Photographs to Teach Social Justice, Understanding Religious Clothing, Service Learning and Prejudice Reduction, Debunking Stereotypes about Muslims and Islam, etc.

I visit this website very often, and find myself stunned by how much there is to unlearn as teachers before we set out to make students aware of their conditioning and how it hampers their growth.

The author works with Shishuvan School in Mumbai, and Muktangan, an educational programme run in collaboration with municipal schools in the city. He can be reached at chintan.backups@gmail.com.