Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Scary Side of Social Media

Over the past weekend, my friends and I watched an interesting film that sparked a critical thought process within me. The film ‘Unfriended’ sees a group of teenage friends get caught up in a horror and revenge plotline over a group Skype call. Although, the film itself was somewhat convoluted and cliché, its premise was still very original and important in our digitally dependent world.

The whole plot flourishes out of a tragedy that is hitting headlines even more so now in 2017 than when the film was released in 2015. Fictionally, Laura Barns falls victim to the hysterical mania of social media when she is recorded whilst being in an intoxicated state at a party and the embarrassing video spreads like wildfire over YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and beyond the realm of the Internet. Due to the pressure, she takes her own life and even this is documented in a video and posted anonymously online. These events in the film shroud the death of Laura with media frenzy and the culprit of the uploaded clips are not revealed until the very end.

Trailer may be deemed as offensive and disturbing to some viewers:

However, going beyond the film, these problems are very real and happen on a day-to-day basis in front of our very own newsfeeds and timelines. Recently, the tragic case of 12-year-old Katelyn Nicole Davis has sparked outrage on how explosive and unruly a single post on social media can be. Davis used a live streaming service where she recorded her own suicide. Morally, we would expect this video to be taken down right away, however the uncontrollable nature of the Internet went against our human moral code and within hours millions had watched it.

The video was viewable to all, across numerous social media platforms, for days before people’s flagging brought about action. However, much like a virus, the clip spread across the web and was reported by numerous outlets and many commented on the topic on their own social media pages. The age of the Internet has really thrown in the question: what’s truly in our control?

Delving into the issues of the worldwide web further shows us that we are all so plugged into a system that promotes connecting with people yet it leaves us truly disconnected from one another. The lines of right and wrong have been completely blurred, as it’s all so accessible. You’re just one click away from shocking images that are becoming numbingly normal to us. We can just as quickly tap out of the gore as we can into it.

What does this say to our younger generations?

People fail to realise that the Davis story wasn’t a movie. It was real. A family has lost a child and the world is watching. They aren’t getting the privacy to grieve.

The realms of cyberspace are uncontrollable and unstoppable. The smartphones we carry everywhere have the power to ruin people’s lives and careers within in seconds.


Social Media is Powerful

The General Teaching Council for Scotland obviously has understood our growing dependence on social media and built more documentation towards tackling these issues that will make their way to the classroom. The documents tell us that we need to embrace Internet in a cautious ways and put boundaries up to protect ourselves online (GTCS, 2012).

As teachers, we must lead by example of being competent in the negatives of social just as we are in the positives within the classroom and beyond. The General Teaching Council for Scotland has written about this in their guidance documents for social media usage:

“Before posting materials online stop and ask yourself:

1. Might it reflect poorly on you, your school, employer or the teaching profession?

2. Is your intention to post this material driven by personal reasons or professional reasons?

3. Are you confident that the comment or other media in question, if accessed by others, (colleagues, parents etc.) would be considered reasonable and appropriate?” (GTCS, 2012, pg.5)

If we’re smart with our social media footprint then we can instil our own values of the Internet with the pupils we teach. Utilising tragic events like the fictional story of Unfriended, and the unfortunately very real story of Katelyn Nicole Davis, we can see some good come out of the sadness plaguing social media.


GTCS (2012) Professional Guidance on the Use of Electronic Communication and Social media available at: (Accessed 22nd January 2017)

Reflecting on Semester One

Being student teachers, we must constantly reflect upon the knowledge and skills we have gained in our everlasting learning process in becoming qualified teachers. As part of a TDT (tutor directed task) we are asked to reflect upon something that impacted us from our learning in semester 1 between the Values and Working Together modules. In particular, we must link this to the Standards established by the GTCS (General Teaching Council for Scotland). 3.4.2 tells us, as trainee teachers, we constantly need to “engage in reflective practice to develop and advance career-long professional learning and expertise” (GTCS, 2012, pg.12). This means that we can progress as life-long learners and gain further understanding through professional reflection.

A key aspect from last semester that has really stuck with me was Jill Shimi’s inputs for Values. As Jill was a primary school teacher herself, I could relate to her inputs on a personal level, as she brought her own experiences as a teacher and linked them with the social justice topics we were investigating.

One of her stories, which tied into the problem of social class structures within society and the rising awareness of the Getting It Right For Every Child approach, really impacted me.

When she was a teacher, she had a child in her class that would misbehave and lash out in an emotional way. However, they were not always an issue within her class and she knew that something must have happened in their life that had made them disconnect from their studies.

Jill decided that she needed to speak to the child on a one-to-one basis and discovered that something traumatic had happened at home. The child’s parent had been mistreating them and they were from an area that was deemed as being deprived. These two aspects put Jill’s student at a great disadvantage in life at such a young age and she knew that they would have a lot of problems that other more fortunate children would be less likely to have, which emphasised the point of the attainment gap hindering children due to their background.

“You just don’t know what issues each child faces once they go home. You really just don’t know.”

Jill’s words really resonated with me because it really hammers home that the school environment is never the same and it needs to adapt and change towards the needs of the children, which also vary from day-to-day.

What I loved about Jill’s ‘solution’ to the issue of the student being disruptive in the class was to have a genuine talk with the child. The GIRFEC approach did not exist when this case occurred and Jill’s hands were tied on how she could aid the child other than being open. She shared her own personal struggles with the student and she connected with them beyond just her duty of being an educator for them. This resulted in the behaviour improving.

Fortunately, there was a happy ending to the story as Jill saw the child a few years later doing well for themselves, going against society’s expectation of them.

Underpinning this personal story with reflection theory, Jill’s situation is a great example of a practitioner using Schön’s reflection-in-action concept as she had to use her own judgement, as a professional, in order to formulate a solution as the practice was unfolding in front of her eyes (Schön, 1987). She did not have any prior knowledge of the student facing these issues and she didn’t have any hindsight to work with. I, as a professional, will be thrown into similar situations where I will have to use my own judgement to tackle a problem within the classroom.

“The swampy lowlands, where situations are confusing messes incapable of technical solution and usually involve problems of greatest human concern” (Schön 1983, pg 42).

Schön explains, that real human problems cannot be fixed by legislation alone. He described professionals as being people in the ‘swampy lowlands’ meaning they are the people who are at the forefront of the problems faced in society.

I really commend Jill for her actions as a teacher and I am really glad she shared this story in the input because it allowed me to really delve into the Values and it emphasised their importance to me. She was a teacher who saw, firsthand, the injustices within society and that she had to find ways to tackle them. 


GTCS (2012) The General Teaching Council for Scotland – The Standards for Registration. Available at: (Accessed 20 January 2017)

Schön, D.A. (1983). The reflective practioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

Schön, D. A. (1987). Educating the reflective practitioner: Toward a new design for teaching and learning in the professions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2017 – The Grand Scheme of Mankind in Agriculture

Coming back to university after the Christmas break, I’ve made a few New Years Resolutions and two of them are really important to me: one is to cut back on the biscuits and the other is to keep up with the blog. Healthy body equates to a healthy mind and as they say, ‘new year, new me.’ Reflecting on the previous year, I think we can all agree that 2016 was nothing short of a phenomenon – both positively and negatively for mankind, as we know it.

However, in light of the many political controversies and celebrity deaths, I want to explore more on how we have survived as a species on this planet and how we have positioned ourselves as the powerhouse organisms of the Earth. Going into teaching, you’ve got to be open to constantly learning new aspects about the world in order to progress as active learners and professionals. We need to go beyond just taking things on face value and ensuring that we enthuse others to question what we are told in the media.

Christmas was full of indulgence for the majority of our population, myself included. The rush of shoppers to get presents, food, decorations, wrapping paper, refreshments and so on continues every year. It’s the tradition for many. One question that stuck in my mind, whilst being hurried through the aisles in the shops for sweets and shortbread, was how does it all come to be? We are so dependent on large supermarkets to provide us with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and confectionaries everyday. Every. Single. Day. Christmas day is only one that has heightened importance in our consumerist eyes. 2016 was no different and 2017 will be just the same when it nears December 25th.

We never really take a stand back to delve deeper on how these giant, industrial food chains exist and I think we need to question if they are sustainable for mankind. We are almost blind to the work that must go into getting fresh fruit and veg to the shelves.

An interesting documentary produced by the BBC saw Dallas Campbell explore some of man’s greatest creations in our modern world. “Supersized Earth” is the inspiration for this very post as it answered many of my questions about our understanding of agriculture and how science is being used to meet the demand of the ever-expanding populations across the nations.

Campbell travels the globe to find examples and sources of food, water and energy. They were nothing short of extraordinary: Cattle farms in Brazil filled with genetically enhanced ‘super cows’, the world’s largest 175-turbine offshore wind farm and the famous American landmark of Hoover Dam were just a few of the colossal constructions that we have set up as a species in order to survive and fight the complications of nature. Our expanding knowledge of technology means we can live in even the harshest of conditions. Like the rest of the animal kingdom, we are evolving and adapting.

One aspect that was really astonishing was the greenhouse farm of Costa del Sol. When we think of greenhouses, we imagine something along the lines of small, glass sheds hosting laborers who have great green fingers producing carrots, tomatoes or potatoes in their own garden or allotments. However, we couldn’t provide the 64 million people of the UK with enough crops from the simple gardens of suburban horticulturists.

Costa del Sol takes it to the extreme:


“A shimmering sea of polythene has consumed the small coastal plain of Campo de Dalías, some 30 km southwest of the city of Almería in southern Spain.” (Geography Field Work, 2016).

These polythene constructions allows for tomatoes to be grown beyond the constraints of Mother Nature herself. The tomatoes aren’t even grown in soil as it slows their development, which hinders the tight profit margins. It’s even been nicknamed ‘Costa del Polythene’ because of the huge concentration plastic_sea_almeria_spain
of greenhouses in one area. Around a ¼ of all the tomatoes produced end up shipped into the UK all year round. Yet, Costa del Sol is more famous as a holiday destination by many, proving our naivety of where our food really comes from. Tourists on the Spanish beaches have no idea of the real connection they have with the small region.

Farming was once filled with the challenges we had to accept with nature, however, we are now tackling it in order to compensate with the high demand of man’s need to eat. Growing population means more mouths to feed so more crops have to be produced. More crops mean more profits to be made for big business like the supermarkets that sell the crops. The cycle of business and agriculture is placed on a grand scale.

It would be great to try and incorporate these agriculture feats within classes in order for kids to learn about where their food comes from. We could show them how impactful the manmade constructions are to our planet and their lives. So much is going on with mankind and children within the classroom have the potential to have an impact on the agricultural industries across the world. Furthermore, the agricultural sector crosses over so many different subjects within the curriculum. Science, social studies, technologies and even mathematics are some of the subjects where the farming concept could be established in a classroom environment.

So, I’ve been able to come into 2017 a little bit more enlightened, a little bit healthier and, with a continued enthusiasm to learn.


Geography Field Work (2016) Costa del Polythene: a sea of plastic Available at: (accessed 12th of January 2017)

BBC (2012) Supersized Earth Available at: (accessed 12th of January 2017)