By Irina Meshkova, Moscow

Tolerance at school


She has recently become a teacher of English at Moscow school 985. In the article she shares her opinion about solving national problems in her class.

Nowadays tolerance in general sense is a very actual and controversial topic today. Not only in Russian federation this problem is widely spoken about. Xenophobic mood that is so popular in contemporary society today is not typical for a concrete country. It is a tendency in the whole world. In Europe it appears constantly and in the USA the situation is saved only due to the political correctness. To start solving the problem it is wise to start from our educational sphere from schools where the roots of the tolerance take place where children are taught to be tolerant.

Sincerely speaking schools and teachers should pay attention not only to the global aspect to this problem. We live in Russia and the contemporary situation of patience and tolerance leaves much to be desired. It is not only a problem of national tolerance that Teacher have to bred. During the meetings of parents teachers constantly speak of the way to teach children to respect other people, about the necessity of valuing peopleís lives, that peoples personality is the most important thing that peopleís rights are of greatest important, human self confidence.

Schools since the very beginning must show every child that he is a personality and every human around him is also a real deep personality as well. So consequently when pupils leave school they feel themselves the full-fledged citizen who understands that personality must be more appreciated than any other things.

Naturally it would be strange to hire a teacher of tolerance at school. It is obvious that it is the teacher who really needs tolerance trainings. There are programmes of tolerance and they are oriented on teacher training .If the teacher is not patient to himself and his pupils donít respect himself.

His pupils copy its thoughts and points of view. Among the great variety of teacher training courses there are lections about tolerance. Auto training is a branch of the training. It is socially psychological programmes that last about 2 weeks. The main point of them is to see the world with the other peopleís eyes. They are dedicated and were worked out by leading psychologists, consequently when teacher is a personality it is obvious he can pass it to the pupils.

When pupils enter primary school they begin to be taught being tolerant but unfortunately it is too late. Kindergarten is the place where we should start working on this program as itís the first time children face the society. In the birthplace of teasing a fat or a lop-eared fellow itís the time for teachers to react. Some years later great problems with national problems appear. The teacher must always be attentive, must know children and know how to influence them to know how to stop the humiliation of the personality.

Unfortunately there is no universal recipe how to educate tolerance. It must become the lifestyle of professional teachers. But it is not only teachers who must teach being patient. It comes from the family. What should a teacher do if he faces the problem when the child comes to school with intolerance that is copied from his parents some rude words towards other nations. May be parents supposes the child will no hear them or they simply donít care. I know that there have been held some investigations according the link between the level of intelligence and tolerance. It showed that children motivated on science and education are not involved into the national arguing and quarrels. Teachers have to acquaint pupils with the ways of behavior with other nationalities.

I would be glad to share my own experience of working with children in order to make them form one united team in spite of the fact they come from different countries and they are different in general sense.

I have a class now itís the ninth form, there are 15 pupils in my group. There are pupils from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Tatarstan, Azerbadjan in my group. This class is multinational. When we started working together 3 years ago I was impressed that constantly they use impolite words addressed to each other and this words usually contains humiliation mixed with anti-Semitic words. All the children are kind and not aggressive. It seemed to me that they simply donít pay attention to the words they use to offend each other and donít really understand how offensive it is.

I wanted to change the situation

I made up my mind to try to change the situation and to fight with the problem. First of all I made a plan where they must sit in class and children of different nationalities were sitting separately not to provoke conflicts. Then I draw a poster where there were photos of all my classes and I wrote rules of behavior in my classroom. They were: do not shout, donít stand, and donít say offensive words. Donít name the nationality, donít be aggressive, donít fight, and donít offend.

And as psychologists say that if we forbid something we should also permit something so that the pupils would not feel themselves in a cage. So I also made a list of things they are allowed to do: answer the teacher's questions, do homework, be in time, enjoy the lesson, have fun, relax, be polite and kind. So if any of these items was broken I asked the pupil to stay after the lesson for the discussion and he got more homework. Some time later I noticed that there are fewer and fewer children who left after lessons .Then I realized that itís time to create some command activity I mean to do something together to become closer to each other to spend time together.

First we went to the cinema and I realized that there are no problems for the children to communicate without offensive words and they easily get on well and find themes for the conversation. We also made a theatrical play together moreover it was made by the children themselves. We watched the film put down the plot and the dialogues and then made scenery. We worked together and aggression as severe as I was has gone. Naturally when people see each other 7 hours a day when they are different as personalities it is not always easy to be polite and kind and not to be annoying. But the goal of my work with this class was to reduce the  race quarrels and to show that all the people are personalities and they worth being respected and tolerance is more fashionable than to repeat rude and resist words and phrases they hear in the street or in a film or in magazines and books.

So to sum it up I can mention that naturally teachers are not gods and we are not capable of changing the world but in the very start of my work as a teacher I faced the problem or childrenís ignorance about the necessity of being tolerant. I suspect to solve the problem teachers should show the other side of people of different nationalities I mean to explain that the human must not be judged according to the nationality as we can be kind moral sensitive helpful understanding friendly tender and with a deep inner world that is more important than the color of the skin and the place we were born inÖ