Teaching Tolerance Anti Bias Framework is a set of standards that should be followed when teaching with tolerance in the classroom. What is teaching tolerance? In the teaching tolerance social justice standards the following are included: identity, action, justice, and diversity. In order to teach students tolerance, they need to learn compassion. Sharing stories about intolerance should insight passion, connection, and therefore are a part of teaching for tolerance. In order to teach tolerance you need to teach intolerance. Here is a teaching tolerance book list: “The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater, “Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes, “They Called US Enemy” by George Takei, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, “Refugee” by Alan Gratz, “Blue Bird” by R.J. Palacio, “The Boy in The Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne, and “When Stars Are Scattered” by Victoria Jamieson. Everyone should teach tolerance in the classroom.
Teaching Tolerance Identity
When I teach the standards for tolerance, I like to begin with teaching tolerance starting small with an assignment on identity. First we start with the identity of the students by looking at their values. I provide a long list of values and they choose 7. The list of values is as follows:
Awareness Optimistic Courage Power Creativity Philanthropy Growth Success Love Strength Integrity Privacy Tolerance loyalty Respect Passion Responsibility Discipline Resourcefulness Preparedness Spirituality Punctuality Peace Spirituality
Once they have chosen 7 values, they explain why they chose them, and then narrow it down to their three core values. Once they have a clear understanding of what their values are we take a look at identity.
Students are to next create a teaching tolerance posters, called, “Cultural Goggles” poster. “Cultural goggles” can be defined as a set of beliefs and values that we carry with us that affect the way we see the world and how we operate in it. Our “cultural goggles” is bias that is unique to our particular background in understanding that each person comes with their own set of “goggles“. We can hopefully eliminate assumptions and instead grow respect for one another. Requirements for the assignment must be a pie graph with four sections with labels that make up the students identity. For example: religion, family, friends, and school. Students are to explain how each section is unique to them. Once students have a clear understanding of their own identity it is much easier for them to identify character values. You can even have your students create a “cultural goggles” poster for a character you are reading about.
Teaching Tolerance Curriculum: Diversity
The best way for teaching tolerance anti bias framework regarding diversity is to choose text that are culturally diverse that typically have a theme, in large, of intolerance. In order for students to learn about tolerance, they need to see what intolerance is. The list of books that are engaging and portray intolerance as the main theme are as follows:
“The 57 Bus” by Dashka Slater: A book about an agender teen who is lit on fire on the 57 bus because Sasha looks different. Another theme that you can touch on here is justice. This non-fiction story holds controversy because the judge wanted to try Richard, the teen who lit Sasha’s skirt on fire, as an adult for a hate crime and many believed it was not a hate crime, and Richard was not an adult.
“Ghost Boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a book about a child who is shot and killed by a police officer. We learn about Jerome’s identity, Emmett Till, and Jerome’s best friend Carlo’s culture. The police officer gets off with a slap on the wrist and Jerome’s ghost and the police officer’s daughter heal together as friends. This novel covers identity, justice, diversity, and action.
“They Called US Enemy” by George Takei is a memoir written graphic novel style by George Takei (you know the guy from Star Wars?) As a young boy George Takei is awoken in the middle of the night with minutes to pack up what the family can carry to be whisked off to an internment camp. The setting takes place during the time of WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The family is singled out solely based on the fact that they were Japanese. The family lost all of their possessions and when they were finally released from these camps ended up homeless living on skid row. It wasn’t until after George Takei’s father died that some restitution was paid to the families for the “inconvenience”. Like most of the novels on this list there is no justice.
“Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi is a non-fiction graphic novel where the setting takes place in the Middle East. The Middle East has been quite villainized since 9/11 and this book gives students a realistic picture of what it’s like to grow up in the Middle East. The main character has the same fears, passions, personality characteristics, and what everyone wants-a sense of belonging. It provides a positive, accurate depiction of what it is like to grow up as a teen in the middle east vs. worse case scenario in the middle east. Marjane and her family are constantly participating in protests which provides clear examples of the “action” standards for tolerance.
“A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park is about a boy who has to escape from his home in Kenya. His father is killed and his mother is lost. We learn about the long-treacherous journey of what it is like to be a refugee and the dangerous and awful conditions they live in to eventually find an inch of solace. There is no justice in this novel. A similar experience that includes graphics is “When Stars Are Scattered” by Victoria Jamieson. This works great for a student with special needs and has a more positive ending.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne has a twisted sense of justice. It is a story about a little boy whose father runs Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The little boy has no idea what is happening within the confines of the camps and references the boys as “wearing striped pajamas”. He befriends a boy on the other side of the fence and they meet every day until one day he decides to go on an adventure and sneak into the concentration camp. Once he is in the camp he is killed in the gas chambers and eventually his father figures out what happened to his son which may serve as a sense of justice but is just tragic to the reader.
“White Bird” by R.J. Palacio is a graphic novel about the Holocaust and a young Jewish girl who is separated from her family and has to live in a barn to survive. The young man she falls in love with is the person who saved her life and he dies in the end as a result of it. It’s a beautiful-love story with a tragic ending. The graphics are amazing and it is a great read for a student with special needs.
Teaching Tolerance Anti Bias Framework: District Won’t Pay for Books?
The question probably is whether or not it is feasible to make these purchases or whether or not your district is willing to pay the money to read these books. When I taught “Ghost Boys”, I contacted the publishing company and they offered a discount. There are ways to save money but I had to initiate talking to the principal. It took our principal a year but we were able to purchase three different titles of classroom sets. There are also teaching tolerance grants available. There are other ways for teaching tolerance anti bias framework to cover tolerance such as using learning centers: passages, videos, and images, bias tests etc.
For center activities I have 6 stations set-up: image, video, bias test, whiteness project, values activity, and a social emotional learning station.
In the image activity I provide an image of a person from a specific ethnicity from the reading. Students sit back-to-back and one of the students has the image while the other has blank paper and a pencil. The student with the image explains what the second student should draw by providing a detailed description and the second student draws the image. At the end they look at the similarities and differences and talk about any stereotypes they may have added to an image.
In the bias test students choose three categories such as disabled, over-weight, homosexual and they take a test that was created by Harvard University to see if they have any bias towards a group of people. After they discuss the results in a small group, they write a reflection.
The video I play for students is a poetry slam by Eduard Vinson. He does an amazing job talking about racism and how he is treated differently everywhere he goes. An example would be at the grocery store- he is always asked to leave his backpack at the counter, how others get scared when he walks by them etc. He ends by making a reference to the controversy over kneeling for the flag-“for your flag”.
The “Whiteness project” is a project that was created by a group that took students with ethnic backgrounds who look white. They had them answer questions as to whether or not these students shared their ethnic backgrounds with others. Most of them hid the fact that they were partly Hispanic, African American etc. and they explained why. Students choose a statement that resonates with them and write a reflection.
The values activity that is discussed in the beginning can be used as part of a station activity.
The social emotional learning station is important to unpack and process everything they learned during the activities. As they go through each station I have them keep track of their emotions on an emotion tracker. They talk about times they were frustrated, angry, embarrassed, or sad and why. It is important to decompress after an activity such as this one and make sure everyone leaves the room feeling valued and heard. To learn more about Social Emotional Learn Read this Blog Post.
The action portion is something that we address throughout the year as current events arise. For example when George Floyd was killed, students painted rocks with his name and placed them around their neighborhoods. They called it the teaching tolerance George Floyd lesson. I teach them that even little acts can go a long way.
Teaching Tolerance Anti Bias Framework can be easy to teach as long as there is thought and preplanning that goes into your teaching tolerance lesson plans. To find more about the teaching tolerance framework go to teaching tolerance.org. Let me know in the comments below how you teach tolerance anti bias framework!
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