When we think about teaching and learning about Respect, we probably think about ways children can learn to respect their parents, teachers, friends and siblings. Over the past two months in our Super Kids programs we have worked on teaching respect for ourselves, and respect for others. This includes understanding the importance of staying true to ourselves, and behaving in line with our values; manners, courtesy, kindness, empathy, compassion; and celebration of individual differences. This month, we are teaching respect for our world: the human world, including the things we create and value; nature and the animal world; and society and culture, including whether our behaviours as a society and as individuals demonstrate respect, especially for cultural and individual diversity.
One aspect of respect that is extremely important to us at Paragon is respect for diversity.
One aspect of respect that is extremely important to us at Paragon is respect for diversity. It is an easy thing to show respect to people who are “like” us. That’s kind of like an extension of self respect. But to truly show respect for others, we need to embrace not just the people in our communities who share our values, language and cultural norms, but those who do not. We hear the word tolerance used a lot in the media, especially in relation to understanding others’ beliefs and cultures, and in terms of moderating our own expectations of differences in our society. However, is demonstrating tolerance really showing respect? In actual fact, what tolerance really means is to endure something that is different or that we don’t value. It is actually quite a disrespectful term. It is not the same as outright rejection of the ideas or values of others, but it is certainly not respectful or accepting.
Acceptance is another term people use when talking about differences. This means opening ourselves up to understanding that our views or opinions are not the only perspective, and taking these different views on board. However, again there is an implication that we need to compromise something in ourselves to “accept” what is different, and surely respecting others need not involve compromising ourselves.
Tolerance, respect and celebration
When we shift our perspective from tolerance through acceptance and into celebration, we are truly able to show respect for everyone’s unique differences. Celebrating differences is a great way to show respect for others, and this is the pathway we encourage all our Paragon Superheroes to take: to show respect for themselves, others, their world, animals and cultures by embracing and celebrating the diversities that make us all unique. Whether our differences are in religion, culture, sexuality or gender, language or learning styles, or individual differences such as disabilities – or as we like to call them, capabilities and possibilities – celebration is the key to building an inclusive community of belonging.
“To be one, to be united, is a great thing. But to respect the right to be different is perhaps even greater” (Bono)
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