California Educator

November 2015

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Page 49 of 59

E V E N T S A N D T R A G E D I E S over the past few years have shown that American society is still far from tolerating and accepting differences in others — increasingly important as the world becomes ever more diverse and cultures, perspectives and peoples must coexist and work together. Educators looking for ways to teach students about historic and contemporary ramifications of prejudice and discrimination should consider the Museum of Tol- erance, based in Los Angeles. e museum, which is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, fea- tures interactive exhibits and customized programs that let visitors become witnesses to history and explore the dynamics of bigotry and discrimination, from the Holo- caust to segregation in California. It is open to everyone, but makes a concerted effort to reach students. "With our high-tech, engaging environment, we have Museum offers immersive experiences for students and educators Teaching Tolerance By KATHARINE FONG youth in mind," says Liebe Geft, museum director. "We can discuss and address thorny, touchy current events and issues in a safe and respectful way. Several exhibits are perfect for dialogue suited to younger audiences." e museum offers a robust series of youth programs, especially focused on middle and high schoolers. Tools for Tolerance for Teens, for example, is a full-day group program that educates and empowers students to create respectful and inclusive communities. It can be cus- tomized to explore themes such as the power of words, lessons from history, and going from bystander to ally. "Personal and social responsibility are underlying themes in all we do, and scenarios are selected by teach- ers," Geft says. "Students learn about diversity inclusion and cultural competencies, and it's linked to their cur- riculum and the Common Core." Students participate in interactive, high-tech exhibits that inspire them to learn from the past, engage in the present, and take responsibility for the future. 48

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