This year, students attending one of Salt Lake City’s schools were learning about Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, as part of their curriculum. The McGillis School tells children why this holiday is observed, along with Jewish customs associated with the festival.
It doesn’t matter that not all the students attending this particular school in Salt Lake City are of the Jewish faith. This exercise would be a valuable addition to the curriculum at any one of the Salt Lake City schools, or schools in any other region, for that matter. Schools need to focus on the basics of education, that is true, but there are other reasons why children go to school as well.
Schools Responsible for More than Just the Basics
Along with learning about English, Math, Geography, and the like, we send our children to schools in SLC to learn how to socialize and interact well with others. It is those lessons that will stick with the children long after they have graduated from school.
Part of the problem of intolerance and prejudice comes from not really knowing anything about the people that we are being intolerant of or prejudiced against. Schools in Salt Lake have the power to start changing that. Would we continue to believe stereotypes about a certain group of people if we actually knew someone personally who happened to belong to that group? Probably not. We would know that whatever thoughts we had about a particular race, religion, country of origin, or what have you are not based on anything real.
Tolerance Programs Should be Included in All Salt Lake City Schools
We all tend to be less tolerant of things we don’t understand; it’s just human nature. Simply because it is in our nature to behave in this way, that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn better patterns of behavior. Let’s start with the children attending our schools.
I really do hope that this program is adopted by all schools in the SLC area including other districts as well. Let’s get the children thinking about different ways that holidays and festivals are observed, but also let them know that underneath it all, that we are really not all that different. That would be a wonderful lesson to leave the students attending Salt Lake City schools with when they go out into the bigger world to further education or to work.
Given that Salt Lake is largely know for the often criticized Mormon religion, it’s a really great sign that the community is helping children to understand different belief systems. This new attitude of acceptance and tolerance that they learned while attending Salt Lake City schools is contagious (but in a good way). We all have a duty to stamp out intolerance whenever we see it, and starting children on the learning process while they are still attending Salt Lake City schools is a great way to start.