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Bookshelf for March 2019

March 10, 2019
By Ed Hollinger

HEAD OF SCHOOL BOOK SHELF for March 2019

A sample of what Head of School Ed Hollinger is reading right now...

Confident Pluralism:  Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Differences, by John Inazu

Daycroft; like many other learning communities, works hard to foster a climate of grace and courtesy as a way for individuals to interact with each other.  As teachers and parents, we strive to teach our children to be kind, respectful and understanding of classmates, neighbors and other family members. We teach tolerance for those who are different from us; encouraging young minds to get their feet walking in the shoes of others and to experience the world from another perspective.

In his book, Confident Pluralism, author John Inazu offers a reminder for grownups of how our world be can a better place and we, better people, when we seek to understand and learn from a diversity of thought and perspectives.  We don’t have to look far to see a world deeply divided by differences - in beliefs, backgrounds, and how we identify ourselves. And too often, what is modeled for our children are behaviors and attitudes that polarize, divide and demonize those with whom we are different.

It’s a simple formula for what Inazu calls our civic aspirations:  tolerance, humility and patience.

Tolerance, he asserts, is finding respect for each others humanity amidst our profoundly differing views of the world.  We can be guided, he says, by fair and civil discussions that allow space for our deep difference.

Humility results when we allow ourselves to be led by self reflection that can, if we are honest with ourselves, reveal an awareness of our own shortcomings.  We don’t have to abandon our deeply held beliefs. We simply have to acknowledge that we aren’t always completely right and others aren’t always completely wrong.  

Patience, says Inazu, involves restraint, persistence and endurance.  It’s going to take time to get to know someone from “the other side.”  Patience asks us “to endure another’s existence; to hold open the possibility that such endurance can lead to greater understanding and empathy.”

Inazu says that schools play a pivotal role in helping to create a more vibrant democracy where these civic engagements can be taught and practiced.  By encouraging tolerance, fostering humility and modeling patience, we can find a sound blueprint for teaching our children well as we guide them into the adult world they will inherit.