A Student Reflection on the Museum of Tolerance
On Wednesday, January 24, the sixth graders of Gillispie School visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California with the intent to further our knowledge on the Holocaust and other issues of injustice. Our class has been avidly studying the Holocaust as well as civil rights, reading books such as Miracle’s Boys, The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963, and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This field trip offered us the opportunity to see directly how these historical incidents affected real people.
Upon arrival, we were shown two doors labeled “prejudice” and “not prejudice” and we were asked which one we would prefer to go through. The class replied that they would like to go through the “not prejudice” door. The docent explained that the definition of prejudice is to “pre-judge” and asked us to think of ways we have pre-judged in our lives. After thinking, we decided to enter through the “prejudice” door because we have all been prejudiced at one point in our lives. Through this door, we were shown historical events that came out of people’s pre-judgment of others and it was mind-altering to see how real people similar to us, were hurt during these events. We are all human and no person should hate another based on their race, gender, religion, or anything else.
How do these ideas tie into today’s issues regarding bullying? According to the dictionary, a bully is a person who uses their own strength to oppress another person who might be weaker than them. So, at the next exhibit, my classmates and I sat down in an area that looked somewhat like a diner. We then watched a video about a real-life bullying scenario. We saw that there were bystanders, unable to help. Then, we were able to interact with the actors through a screen, asking questions of the bullies, the victims, and the bystanders. For example, we could ask them why they bully people or if they were insecure themselves. Or we could ask how these people felt as they were being bullied. The actors would answer in the way that their characters would answer. This was most interesting because we could all see that these bullies had insecurities that cause them to bully other people. We could also see the way the victims felt that they couldn’t do anything when they were being bullied.
I felt this video and its actors were important because the video and its actors taught all of my classmates to be “upstanders,” taking action when someone is being bullied because if we don’t, we are just as much a part of the problem as the bully. We were then asked to vote about what we would do in these situations and we were asked to take a quiz about our own bullying situations. I feel that this exhibit strengthened our empathy by showing that we must take away the power of the bully by being “upstanders!”
Grade 6 Student
About Gillispie School: We are an independent toddler through Grade 6 school in La Jolla, CA. We believe that learning is a journey in which children are active participants. Our students partner with teachers to further their academic, creative, and social growth, and we balance a child-centered approach that does not rush childhood with well-researched academic programs that demand higher-level thinking. Click here to learn more about our school.