Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Tremendous Turmoils of Tuesday

Tuesday was a day filled with a whirlwind of emotions to say the least.

Our morning lecture for the values module really revolved around the central concerns we would be dealing with, not only in the module, but also in the occupations we hope to enter after graduating. Derek and Victoria picked apart topics such as race issues, gender identity, sexuality and class during the lecture. Rather than see them simply as just issues faced by people we had to delve deeper into why people have certain beliefs and bias views.

We learned the differences between being consciously biased and unconsciously biased in our ideas and beliefs. Each and every one of us is unconsciously biased. We are unaware of the automatic assumptions we make towards any given person or situation. Our experiences, our background and our cultural identity influence our own unconscious bias.

During the course of the lecture we were played numerous different clips of people who were affected by society’s prejudices. One clip I felt was really thought provoking and that was of the speech made by Panti Bliss, a drag act and activist for the LGBTQ+ Community. Panti talks about the everyday issues she faced and continues to face as a person who broke away from societies expectations of normality:


The best way I can describe the morning lecture was that it was very ‘real’.

It felt very…


Walking away from the lecture theatre once the hour was up was different from previous lectures. The walk back to the car made me realise that this was more than just what we are learning as education students. Real life issues were going to be at the forefront of our studies and rightfully so I think. As student teachers we are going to have to learn to be able to discuss issues in a very real way and we are must be open to new ideas and beliefs as much as possible.

There is no shying away from issues that we will have to deal with as future educators and supporters of young people.

Four O’clock hit and we had come back for a values workshop that was set up by Derek. We were told to take a seat at any table that had pens. Once we were set up into four groups we were given a large envelope per group and were told not to open it until the workshop began.

Derek announced to us that we had to create and construct something that would be useful for a new student coming to the University of Dundee with the supplies inside the envelope and that we also had to present our idea to the other groups. We were group 3 and inside our envelope we had:

  • Two sheets of white A4 paper and a sheet of blue card
  • Three rubber bands
  • Three paper clips
  • A pencil and a red pen
  • Two post-it notes
  • A piece of blue tac
  • A small envelope

As a group, we had to create something that was going to be beneficial for someone just like us. It was a daunting task with such limited resources but we came up with the idea of a personalised survival guide for the University of Dundee that had important information for all new students. What made this task even more difficult was the lack of support given by Derek. Group 1 were given undivided attention from him whilst we were left in the dark about how we were going to construct and present our idea to the rest of the groups. We began questioning why he was avoiding us within our groups. What had we done?

When it came to present our first presentation didn’t go down very well with Derek. He seemed unimpressed at our ideas. He wasn’t interested in what we had to offer. Derek instead praised both group 1 and group 2 who were planning on creating an extensive survival kit with their supplies. He even asked us if we had stolen our ideas from group 1. It was so strange.

Nevertheless, creating the survival guide was the next task we had to do. We put great effort into creating our survival guide with our resources and we felt that we did a really good job in our efforts and our presentation was delivered with confidence. Surely it’d be met with praise.

“I’d give it a 4 out of 10” was the response from Derek.

It was disheartening. We felt belittled. “Why does he hate us?” I heard amongst my group.

Group 1 had made a whole survival kit with all their resources. They even made a bag!

“10 out of 10 group 1 that was fantastic!”

It was so unfair

Group 4 received an even worse reception from Derek as they only got a 2 even though they were only given an elastic band, a pencil and a single post-it note.

It became apparent that Derek had fooled us in to believing he was truly being very critical of group 3 and 4 and showing favouritism towards group 1 and 2. It was all just an elaborate scheme to get us to come to the realisation that; even though the task is the same, people have different starting points and abilities with the resources they have to complete a task.

We have to respect and value the different abilities of every pupil as a teacher. We need to see our class as a group of individuals as each child has their own strengths and weaknesses.

Encouragement plays a key part in succeeding as well as group 1 would have walked away from the workshop feeling uplifted that they had done such a great job and the other groups would have disconnected from the tasks set by Derek entirely, resulting in only group 1 being successful. Everyone else would have to suffer in silence.

Once we were free to go I had another walk to the car that had a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions about what we experienced.

Tuesday was really a crazy day for the values modules and I can only assume there is so much more in store for us.

Why Teaching?

Why Teaching? I ask myself… Why Teaching?

This question of ‘Why Teaching?’ repeats over and over within my mind as I scramble to look for the answer. Why have I chosen this path in life? What do I aim to achieve by becoming a teacher?

Firstly, I feel it’s necessary to start with a brief introduction to myself as an undergraduate student on the Education course at the University of Dundee. My name is Alan Macdonald and I am hoping to become a primary school teacher.

Much of my own time in education was, in my eyes, very successful. This was due partly to the fact it shaped me from being the shy and timid only child that I was in nursery and primary, into a confident and independent citizen by the time I left high school. I felt ready to face the world.

This growth process flourished mainly because of the great teachers I had to support me in my studies. Whether that be because of a teacher’s teaching methods, their enthusiasm in their own profession, or their approach to learning as a whole. Great teachers really make the difference; a difference that I’d love to make myself someday.

My German teacher, in particular, is the person that really sourced my likening towards the idea of going into teaching. Back in 2014 she told our German class about a language scheme that believed in promoting language learning, particularly German, in young people. I was the only male pupil in an already small class of 15 people that decided to take German further. So, I really wanted to get involved in a scheme that could lead to future generations continuing language learning as I felt it was a huge issue, particularly in Scotland.

The scheme was set up by the government-funded organisation UK-German Connection who aim to bring the young people of Germany and the UK together.

UK-German Connections

UK-German Connection is dedicated to increasing contacts and understanding between young people in the UK and Germany – UK-German Connections

Being an Ambassador during 2014-15, I represented the organisation through the projects I planned within a primary school. I set up weekly classes that involved the kids at Murroes primary school learning German on a wider and more dynamic scale, with emphasise on interactive activities that challenged the norm of language learning at a primary level. I covered topics such as History, Geography and even Music within the grand scheme of teaching the kids German. Every lesson incorporated new vocabulary that related to the task of the lesson.

Having the freedom to able to create my own class plans allowed me to see my potential in going into a career in primary teaching. What made it even better was that, it was not only the kids who enjoyed my classes; I enjoyed planning, creating and presenting the classes to a group of enthusiastic children who were eager to learn more.

An example of one of my classes

To wrap up the year, the ambassadors and I attended an evaluation seminar in Berlin where all the different projects were summarised and discussed as a group and we all talked about our plans for the future. My plan was made clear by the ambassador scheme and I knew that the University of Dundee was right for me.

Looking ahead, I really can’t wait to delve deeper into my studies at the University of Dundee and really learn what it takes to become a successful educator that can shape future generations just as my teachers impacted my life successes.

Alan Macdonald