Education for tolerance: cultural difference and family values

Journal of Moral Education 39 (2):131-143 (2010)
Abstract
Those who would defend liberal democracy in today?s changing world face a new toleration debate. While we still want to help our children grow up to see the world from other perspectives than their own, we are no longer as sure as we were that we know what toleration means or what it entails. Where education is concerned, it seems the focus is on tolerance as an attitude?encouraging people to be tolerant?but where the public debate is concerned, the focus is narrower. It becomes a question of what should be tolerated and what the law should allow or proscribe. But however interpreted, the underlying unclarity remains and it inevitably affects educational choices. Must we approve as well as permit? Must we refrain from judgement? Is tolerance something that is due to people themselves or does it include their views and opinions? And how should we respond if it should turn out to be impossible to tolerate one group or view without discriminating against another? In this paper I discuss two particular aspects of the new toleration debate, both of which involve presuppositions about personal and family life and religious and cultural identity. These are: (1) the moral and political issues prompted by the presence of newcomers in societies with different religious and cultural traditions from their own; and (2) a new and combative form of secularism within those societies
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