Sometimes the most important lessons we teach in school are the ones that step outside of content. Sometimes kids learn more from something other than standards. I teach English Language Arts to amazing inner-city 8th graders, and although I continually stress the importance of literacy every day in my classroom, for the past two years that I have done this, I have found that students infinitely benefit from learning about tolerance.
Although I teach at a gifted magnet school, my classes are filled with the regular "host" students- which means they get none of the benefits or treats that other students receive. They are mostly low-income students that haven't been given a chance. I can already tell that they are bright kids with a lot of energy, but I want to be able to give them something more this year. Many have never been on a field trip in middle school; they certainly deserve at least one.
It is my hope to teach students about tolerance AND make literature come alive for them with a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance. For the past two years, I have been able to do this with my 8th graders, and each time the experience has been nothing short of incredible. Most of my students don't know what the Holocaust is, but I can see it in their faces when we are reading Elie Wiesel's 'Night' or 'The Diary of Anne Frank' that they GET IT thanks to their trip. The atrocities made possible due to Hitler's propaganda become very real for them, and they come away with an understanding of the power of words. I also firmly believe that they come away as better human beings.
I have been to the Museum of Tolerance for two years in a row. I am moved every time I go. My students, however, have not. I fear for what could happen if they are not educated about the perils of racism, especially in the gang-laden, violent city they live in. They need this experience. Please consider helping me in this endeavor. I can guarantee you that this will make their year. Thank you so much in advance for your consideration; my students and I look forward to hearing from you.
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