Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

REACH beyond Tolerance: A Framework for Teaching Children Empathy and Responsibility

Academic journal article Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development

REACH beyond Tolerance: A Framework for Teaching Children Empathy and Responsibility

Article excerpt

The authors describe the REACH Beyond Tolerance program, a schoolwide model for teaching children tolerance, and they argue that most current school curricula do not prepare students to operate effectively within an ethnically and culturally diverse world (J. A. Banks, 1997; D. Gollnick & P. Chinn, 1998).

**********

No one has yet fully realized the worth of sympathy, kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.

--(Emma Goldman, as cited in Siccone & Lopez, 2000, Introduction)

Children in the United States face more fears and dilemmas than did children of previous generations because today's children interact with people from more diverse backgrounds. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE; 2001) generated universal and inclusive identification categories for these diverse populations: (a) culture, (b) ethnicity, (c) race, (d) language, (e) special needs, (f) sexual orientation, (g) gender, (h) religion, (i) socioeconomic status, and (j) geography. Membership within these categories significantly affects learners and learning. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics (2000), in the 1998-1999 school year, 37% of all students were African American, Hispanic, Asian American, or Native American. In addition to increasing ethnic and racial diversity, more students with disabilities are now included in regular education classes. In addition, gay male, lesbian, and bisexual male and female students are also becoming more outspoken about their lives and their need to be respected for who they are.

However, most current school curricula do not prepare students to operate effectively within the ethnically and culturally diverse world in which they live (Banks, 1997; Gollnick & Chinn, 1998). This lack of preparation has prompted sociologists, in their analyses of culture within the school environment, to refer to the differences of diverse populations as "isolates" of character (Hall, 1981). The long-term effects of poorly educating students, who become uneducated adults, have been forecast by the media for many years; current media reports indicate that these effects are now being realized. School violence and acts of intolerance and hate are rampant and are increasing in the United States and in other countries.

Thirty years ago, sociologists and psychologists recognized that denying ethnicity and race could be dangerous and destructive to humanity (Hall, 1976). The validity of this theory has been demonstrated in many cities across the United States. The melting pot philosophy is no longer viable. Assimilation is not working for U.S. schools and society. Recently, Hispanic and African American students in a Los Angeles school showed their lack of tolerance for each other when their racial slurs turned to violence that had to be stopped by riot police. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Hate groups are numerous, and their numbers are rising. Half of the hate crimes committed in the United States are committed by individuals who are less than 21 years old (Heller & Hawkins, 1994). Of all the hate crimes in the United States reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 10% occurred in schools (Siccone & Lopez, 2000). Within the state of California public school system alone, 21,438 violent crimes were reported (Siccone & Lopez, 2000). Rich (1986) contended that this is what U.S. citizens should expect when teachers give students the message, either blatantly or subtly, that students who are different have no place in society. This attitude has broadened the definition of the word lynching as applied to the academic setting. The word lynching now has an emotional connotation, as do its many synonyms: psychological beatings, silences, disregard, and invisibility. "The visible signs of the racial crises have become stark" (Banks, 1997, p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.