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Teaching Tolerance: America's Story Is An Immigration Story

Source: ASIDE 2016
With the continual debate in our nation's government over the immigration policy, and the political rhetoric of the current crop of presidential candidates, it is no wonder that our students have misinformation and questions about immigration. No matter how you slice it, the United States is a nation of immigrants who contributed their blood, sweat, and tears to build the country we are today. America's story is an immigration story, of people who continue to become productive citizens, defend our country, work hard, and help this country grow.

We are increasingly alarmed by the lack of understanding of just how much immigrants have contributed to who we are as a nation. The following motion graphic, entitled "Immigration and Growth," was produced by the George W. Bush Institute, and the statistical information brings to light just how much of an impact immigrants have made to the economy. The students are surprised to learn that immigrants account for one-third of new small business owners, or that 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by first or second generation immigrants.

The motion graphic called Just The Facts provides an additional, straightforward delivery of information about immigration in order to try to debunk some of the misinformation that leads people to make assumptions based on political alliances. It offers some enlightening statistics about who's here, who commits crimes, and who works.

Lastly, the recent article titled "The Secret Of Immigration Genius" by Eric Weiner in The Wall Street Journal sheds further light on the geography of genius that results from the influx of foreigners. He drives home the point that having your world turned upside down sparks creative thinking. Weiner points to recent research on the role of "schema violations" in intellectual development.

Source: The Wall Street Journal
This occurs when your world is full of turmoil, causing temporal and spacial cues to be thrown off balance. People uprooted from the familiar see the world from a different angle, giving them another perspective that enables them to surpass the merely talented, including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Marie Curie to name a few.

Weiner refers to studies based on historical analysis that support how creativity is spurred by the intermingling of cultures, and perhaps "we should be wise to view the welcome mat not as charity, but, rather, as enlightened self-interest."

As we enter into a presidential year, which from the outset seems more combative that ever, we need to constantly provide our students with a variety of viewpoints and build a learning community that questions information by not accepting everything they hear as gospel truth. As a nation built on the contributions of immigrants, it is our responsibility.

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