Cultures of intolerance

4th July 2003 at 01:00
Teachers trying to teach tolerance in a culture of intolerance can have a tough time. Pupils at ethnically homogeneous schools often find it hard to learn to respect other points of view - when their own, illiberal, point of view is under fire, researchers have found.

Jacqueline Watson, a researcher at the University of East Anglia, said she has been told: "We are saying to the students that we have to respect other cultures and be nice to them. However, we are going to inform you that your opinions and your family's opinions are in fact wrong."

In a survey of 130 secondaries, including visits to 10 schools during the first term of the new subject, she also found many lost sight of the community involvement strand of citizenship. Instead they focused on pupils' political literacy.

Even the most enthusiastic citizenship co-ordinators were at a loss to see how they could include every child in community activity, she said, as there was neither the time nor the money to do it.

Respect, 16-page supplement

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