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Celebrating Difference

The United Nations’ International Day for Tolerance is on 16 November

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore the value of tolerance and the importance of accepting and celebrating diversity.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Celebrating Difference) and the means to display them.


  1. Show Slide 1.

    Ask the students to consider the question, ‘Which type of sweet is your favourite?’

    Ask students to vote for each option shown on the slide by raising their hands.

  2. Comment that we are not all the same in terms of our likes and dislikes. Some people love Liquorice Allsorts, whereas others can’t stand them. Many things make us different as humans, though, not just our taste in sweets! For example, if we look at the human race, there is variety and diversity in terms of the languages we speak, the age we are, our physical appearances, our experiences of life and so on.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    It is a feature of human societies that we often feel safer or more at ease with people who are similar to us. It is probably easier to relate to someone who speaks the same language, and we may like to spend time with people who enjoy the same types of music or sport. In fact, we often like to use our clothing and our sense of style to express what ‘group’ we belong to. That is a natural part of being human, although perhaps this family has taken it one step too far . . .

    Show Slide 3.

  4. But seriously, although its good to have the chance to be with people who share things in common with us, its also dangerous to think that people who aren’t the same age as us, or who dress differently or who come from a different country are not also similar to us in many ways. To stick with our sweets theme, take a look at this.

    Show Slide 4.

  5. Were all the same on the inside. That is true. We all feel joy, pain, delight and fear. We all have hopes and dreams, gifts and talents. We all share in a common humanity. We are all part of the human race.

    Show Slide 5.

    We are all the same on the inside.

  6. Show Slide 6.

    Today’s assembly marks the United Nations International Day for Tolerance on 16 November. This day is intended to help raise awareness of the importance of tolerance for a healthy society.

    Tolerance means accepting difference. It is a fair attitude towards those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc. differ from our own. It means accepting that we live in a world where there is diversity and difference, and that this is a good thing.

  7. Perhaps you are thinking that nowadays our world is tolerant of others and accepts difference. After all, 2017 marks 50 years since homosexuality was decriminalized in England and Wales. Many would argue that the UK is now more open, aware and tolerant of difference. However, 2017 also marked the one-year anniversary of the murder of the MP, Jo Cox. She was killed in a targeted attack by someone who did not agree with tolerance. Jo Cox had spoken up for tolerance and accepting and celebrating difference. In June 2015, in her first speech to Parliament, she said, ‘we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that which divides us.’

    Show Slide 7.

    Following Jo Cox’s murder, there was a strong sense that as a society, the UK should work towards greater tolerance. To mark the anniversary of her murder, many people across the UK came together for community events such as barbecues, picnics and street fairs to show solidarity and a desire for a more tolerant society.

Time for reflection

It remains true that in our world, there are people who feel challenged and threatened by difference and diversity. Perhaps they have been taught to fear difference, rather than accept it or celebrate it. Perhaps they have not had the chance to meet or be with people who are different from themselves. Learning and remembering that we are all the same on the inside is an important message that the world still needs to hear.

Show Slide 8.

Children are not born intolerant, but society can teach intolerance. Today, we reflect on and celebrate tolerance.

Show Slide 9.

Thank goodness our world is made up of Allsorts!

Dear God,
We celebrate the ways in which we are different.
Thank you that you have made each of us a one-off, and that you love us.
Our fingerprints are a reminder that we are unique.

Help us to value and celebrate the uniqueness of others.
Help us to be comfortable with difference and to remember that deep down, we are all the same on the inside and are all created in your image.
Help us to be tolerant, understanding and accepting.
Help us never to think that discrimination, hatred or prejudice is OK.
Give us the courage to challenge any prejudices we may hold.
Help us to be open to becoming and growing more tolerant.

Publication date: November 2017   (Vol.19 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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