Tuesday, November 17, 2009

There is a strong link between happiness & tolerance

There is a strong link between happiness and tolerance, in so far as less prejudice means greater happiness"
Matthieu Ricard - "Buddhist Offerings - 365 Days" (17 November)

This book, given to me by a dear friend, presented this quote to me this morning. As I read it I recalled a conversation I'd had with a wonderful 15 year old girl yesterday evening. She believed that she was faced with a dilemma - blessed with a superior IQ but "cursed" with a learning style which most don't understand, school had become a struggle. She wondered how she could ask her school to make certain allowances which would assist her learning. How could she be a burden to her teachers? After all, the other kids at school were managing just fine, weren't they?

I told her that she would be doing the other students and the school a favour if she told them what they could do to help her. The concept of Universal Design has been used in architecture for some time now, and is gaining popularity in the field of education. Buildings designed for Universal access include ramps for wheelchairs, talking elevators for the vision-impaired, and automatic doors for the physically handicapped. Those same modifications also benefit people without disabilities - those carrying heavy objects are grateful for ramps, and those who may have left their reading glasses at home benefit from hearing which floor the lift is approaching. In the same way, the concepts of Universal Design in education make the curriculum to students with disabilities. However, they also accommodate the unique differences in all of us by making materials available in the widest variety of formats possible. In short, those who ASK for change make the world a better place for everybody.

Difference should be celebrated - not stifled.

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