#DailyWritingChallenge Day 68: Tolerance

noun. the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with; the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.

Toleration: allowing, permitting, or acceptance of an action, idea, object, or person which one dislikes or disagrees with.

To tolerate: allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.

Is it just me, or does the word ‘tolerance’ leave a bad taste in your mouth?

Yes we need to be tolerant human beings, but to tolerate someone or something is to put up with it. Toleration suggests you are forcing yourself to do something you do not want to do. Tolerance suggests that you are doing as you are told, you are complying, not actively engaging.

I find this problematic. I also have issues with tolerance being one of the 5 British Values we teach children in our schools.

Our British Values:

  • Democracy
  • Rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect
  • Tolerance

According to Ofsted: “mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs and for those without faith”.

I agree we need our young people to be respectful and tolerant of the values, ideas and beliefs of others, whilst not imposing our own on others, but is that enough?

We don’t want to be tolerated as a human being.

We want to be accepted. We want to be embraced. We want to be welcomed.

We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to be understood.

We want to be respected. We want to be valued. We want to be loved.

“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength”.

Dalai Lama

Our Global Human Values:

As a Headteacher, working with the Values-based Education community we spotlighted and showcased the need for global human values, a universal perspective on humanity. We were compliant and did the bit we needed to do for Ofsted, but our curriculum and our inner curriculum were rich with learning opportunities to explore values.

Humanity needs uniting, not dividing.

Human beings need to be accepted, not tolerated.

Dr Neil Hawkes states often “there is no values hierarchy”. In many ways I agree, however, I think tolerance may be an exception!

“The highest result of education is tolerance”.

Helen Keller

I am not sure this quote is fit for purpose any more… is tolerance the highest virtue of education? Should we not be aiming higher?

Positive Education:

Last year, I attended the annual international Positive Education conference in London. There were a number of speakers and contributors who I had heard of or who I had met before. The speaker who really impact me was Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox’s sister. Kim is a former FE teacher and now campaigner @JoCoxFoundation where she continues to develop Jo’s legacy.

“Our world is divided… we don’t meet hate with hate…

we meet it with love & compassion”.

Kim Leadbeater

Jo’s vision was for a compassionate society & her mission was to galvanise positive change. Jo’s values were: Inclusivity, Equality and Humanity.

Archbishop Cranmer

If tolerance is being patient, understanding and accepting of anything different, then we to need intentionally practise this.

If tolerance is showing patience towards a practice or opinion you disapprove of, then we need to learn how not to judge others.

If tolerance is the quality of allowing other people to say and do as they like, even if you do not agree or approve of it, then we need exercise our freedom of speech.

If tolerance is the ability to bear something painful or unpleasant, then we need to reflect on our resistance.

If tolerance is our capacity to endure pain or hardship, then we need to appreciate that it is more painful on the receiving end of that relationship.

If tolerance is the act of allowing something to be, then we need to consider the power struggle and privilege involved in this dynamic.

moreincommon - Celebrating the life and legacy of Jo Cox

In her maiden speech she said:

“We have more in common that that which divides us”. 

Jo Cox

Let’s stand united, not divided.

Let’s search for what we have in common, celebrating our shared values, beliefs and experiences.

Let’s remember that being tolerant of intolerance makes us a bystander and complicit, when we need to be upstanders and active in bringing people together, peacefully and compassionately.

Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice. - Ayaan Hirsi Ali | Words ...


Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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