Tracy Becker answers your questions.

Jennifer Asks: “What can schools do to help students become more
tolerant of different people’s beliefs, appearances and backgrounds?”

By Tracy Becker

Licensed Counselor

Thank you, Jennifer, for this question. I have done some of my own research on this topic. The research suggests that if the teachers and staff can lead by example and integrate tolerance, diversity and multicultural dynamics into their style of teaching, and the way in which they interacting with the students the students are more likely to follow suit.

As you know this isn’t always easy, because, as adults, we have also been influenced by our own culture and environment; and may not have even notice for ourselves that we have intolerances; or we may have a habit of saying something that is offensive to some, but we don’t even realize it. Thus, this requires some inquiry into our own beliefs and intolerances.

If the schools can offer in-services classes, if they don’t already, to help the teachers realize their influence and power related to this topic, and how to integrate it into their already existing lesson plans, this would be a great start.

In addition, students, teenagers specifically, learn from each other. It would be prudent to make sure that there are multicultural opportunities for the student body, and supervised by an adult. This could range from students getting together to discuss openly the issues they see daily in their school and among their friends; an educational opportunity through an assembly where the questions and concerns are addresses by the student body; and celebrations of holidays other than the
traditional ones throughout the school year.
These are just a few ways the schools can start with the hopes that tolerance grows out into the community from this effort.

Resource: 64 days, 64 ways to non-violence K-12 curriculum based on Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi’s
teachings. All information, content, and material of this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician, licensed counselor or healthcare provider.