“You don’t suffer fools gladly!” I was once told. I was truly shocked! It meant I had little patience for whoever was doing whatever it was that annoyed me; I always saw myself as patient – certainly not intolerant. My view of myself had truly been tested. I’d like to think I still have a no-nonsense approach, but that people also see me as tolerant.
The Cambridge English Dictionary defines tolerance as:
“A willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them.”
If we look to the West, we see numerous examples of political movements acting to ‘help bring about a more tolerant society’. A worthy notion to ensure the rights of minorities are upheld and the oppressed are defended. But, often the increased tolerance for one group or idea may mean the repression of others. In truth, tolerance is a very loaded concept, and sometimes those who champion it are merely offering a different kind of oppression.
But what has this to do with education?
Should we be tolerant of everything? As a parent, you instinctively know the answer is absolutely not. There are times when we must intervene, as with splitting up a fist fight.
But a little tolerance is a good thing! It allows us to grow; to refine our character, it permits us to give our children the necessary freedom to discover, to explore, to go out and learn for themselves. Our encouragement of a sense of adventure may mean little Ivan or Aleksandra takes risks, climbs trees and sometimes learns the hard way – by making mistakes – as anyone who has rushed their child to hospital will understand. But, your toleration of some of your child’s disagreeable ideas and actions facilitates a necessary and important part of their learning process.
Tolerance also means we learn to respect other people’s beliefs and ideas. Just because we see things differently doesn’t mean they have any more or less right to think what they think. After all, wouldn’t it be an awfully dull world, if we all thought the same?
We aspire to be true internationalists – and ‘tolerance’ helps us to act appropriately
Global Perspectives, PSHE and assemblies empower us to understand some of those different points of view, beliefs and ideas. Our students’ ability to interact with people from different faiths and different backgrounds, serves them well: not just now (as in reducing incidents of bullying) but also in the future. Imagine your son or daughter being involved in an important Trade deal, and it completely collapses because they managed to offend their host. CIS students know how to be elegant hosts and equally considerate guests; able to walk into any room and get along with everyone present. Our students of the future will be erudite and supremely able to avoid any diplomatic faux pas; and will be respectful enough to make friends with people from all over the world.
It all starts with a simple little word – ‘tolerance’.
Mr. Michael Leach, Headteacher
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