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CDS at the Museum of Tolerance

Friday, November 3, 2017

Two weeks ago, the Children’s Day School team took part in an extraordinary professional development session. After nearly a year of planning, a generous grant from the state of California allowed all of our faculty, staff, and administrators to attend a two-day workshop at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The event, “Tools for Tolerance for Educators,” focused on the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards (a vital component of our curriculum and philosophy), and it provided opportunities for interactions, presentations, and discussions that left a deep impact on us all.

The Museum of Tolerance contains exhibits that condemn bigotry around the world. Its primary focus is the Holocaust, but it also addresses other human rights violations both in the past and the present. We had the opportunity to view a series of interactive exhibits, with one of the most memorable being a tour through 1930s Germany that gave context to the rise of the Nazis and the violence of the Holocaust. It included recorded dialogue, replicas of actual locations, and real-life stories of people caught in the struggle, lending a realistic feeling to the experience. In an even more affecting experience, we attended a speech by a Holocaust survivor, now in his nineties, who discussed his internment in the concentration camps at the age of just 19 and his perseverance through more than a year of horrific cruelty.

On our second day, we experienced some of the museum’s other exhibits, including the “Point of View Diner” (which contains interactive depictions of complex moral situations), “GlobalHate.com” (a set of computer terminals outlining the spread of bigotry through the digital world), and the “Millennium Machine” (a “time machine” exploring situations and potential resolutions of human rights abuse). We also had the opportunity to see Horizon Line, a one-man play created by the Western Justice Center that attempts to investigate the forces driving young men to embrace white supremacy.

Following all of these experiences, our entire group (more than eighty of us) came together for reflection and personal discussion. We examined our own teaching practices in the light of what we had learned over the past few days, discussed what we thought were the benefits and flaws of our current policies, and sought ways to better integrate the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards into our curriculum. We split into small groups for several different activities, allowing us to gain the perspectives not only of our closest colleagues but also of those working in other areas of the school. A key topic was the four main values embodied by the Social Justice Standards—identity, diversity, justice, and action—and we talked about how we could focus on these concepts to fulfill our mission of making CDS a better and more inclusive place for all.

We would like to extend our thanks to the Museum of Tolerance for their wonderful work, and we appreciate the patience of our families for allowing us to close school for two days as we took advantage of this opportunity. We all learned so much, and some of our teachers have already begun applying their experiences there to their classroom practices. We look forward to sharing even more information about our trip to the museum in the near future!