I recently attended a workshop on the allocation of resources in a classroom. In what seemed to be a standard teamwork exercise to allow us to get to know each other, we were split into five groups and allocated an envelope filled with resources for the activity. Our task included using the resources to construct an item which would be useful for first year students. Upon opening our pack we found two pens, two pencils, a rubber band, a pink and blue post-it note, several paper clips and a piece of paper. Looking at our resources we began putting our heads together to come up with ideas on what, and how, we could create an original and exciting piece of equipment with the items we were supplied with.
Having passed a few discouraging ideas around the group, we began to look around the classroom to see if the other groups were having the same issue. To my immediate left, I was confused and displeased to see group 1 having an abundance of bright and colourful stationary scattered across their table. Their team mates were in great discussion of everyone’s ideas on what they could create, inspiring and building off of each other to form a solid plan to present to the class. As we continued to scan the room, it became apparent that each group were given packs containing more and more resources from which they could produce their item. In addition to this, our tutor spent the majority of her time paying attention to the groups with the most resources, encouraging their ideas and growth throughout the task.
Before we began physically building our ideas, we were first instructed to present our projects to the class. Beginning with group 1, they presented an intricate and creative idea to the class which was rewarded with lots of praise from the tutor. This continued down the groups however it was evident that each group had received less materials to work with than the group prior to them and because of this, their ideas became less imaginative and unique. In addition to this, the tutor’s input on each groups presentation decreased as she became less impressed with the ideas. We then began with the task of building our project which, once done, was given a score out of 10. Group 1 was awarded the highest score of 9 for their eye-catching piece and as the lecturer continued down the groups, the scores decreased up to group 5 which scored an objectionable score of 1 out of 10.
Upon hearing our feedback, Infuriated by the obvious injustice, we began a heated discussion with the lecturer on why we believed the scored she had issued us were biassed to the size of pack received by each group. It was at this point our tutor revealed to us the purpose of this exercise. The allocation of resource packs represented the unequal income, support and resources provided within different groups in society, while the tutor’s actions and attitude to the different groups represented the prejudice received by these groups. This emphasized the point that nobody should be discriminated against based on their background.
This was an eye-opening realization for me as being brought up in a school were getting a new pencil case and school bag every school year was the standard, I had never been exposed to the struggle some families go through every year to even get their children to school on time. In preparation for us becoming teachers, it is essential for us to be able to provide a high standard of care, support and education for our pupils no matter their background is in order for each individual to thrive. A classroom should be a place where superficial factors don’t dictate the level of care and support a child receives and the quantity of money in a parents bank account doesn’t determine how well a child can spell, count, create or preform.