Author Archives: Blaze Lambert

Is Daydreaming Terminally Dated?

Blaze, what do you mean by “Is daydreaming terminally dated?”- I hear you ask. Daydreaming is a natural and often subconscious process for our brain and therefore is not something that can dwindle and become dated!

Perhaps, yes. However, I beg to differ.

The Oxford definition of daydreaming is:

 “A series of pleasant thoughts that distracts one’s attention from the present.”

Of course people will ALWAYS daydream, however my fear lies with the generation of children currently in school and those who will follow. Let’s compare:

A child 10+ years ago who was bored would begin to daydream in order to amuse themselves.

What would be the difference with a child now? What do they always have by their side to distract their attention from the present?

Yes. A phone. Or an iPad, or a TV, or a games console. The list goes on.

Lo and behold, I’m writing another blog about technology. It is just such a massive part of modern life; I find that every time I write something, I still have more to say. I am not alone in thinking about the harmful factors of child dependence on tech as we can see by the most common google searches:

For those of you who don’t know, I am currently on placement in an International Baccalaureate (IB) School in Poland. A massive aspect of the IB is inquiry-based learning. This involves teacher provocation in order to spark student curiosity, discussion, debate and opinions on a range of subjects and concepts.

How does this relate to daydreaming? Well, this placement has opened my eyes to the benefits that inquiry has, not only on student agency, inquisition and independence, but also on creativity and imagination.

Technology unarguably is an amazing innovation. Technology is also unarguably detrimental to daydreaming. However, by incorporating inquiry into children’s daily lives in school, they begin to form the curiosity and inquisition that was once a natural process for people before one could google something as soon as they had a wonder or a query. Having information at our fingertips is very powerful, however, have you ever stopped to think that by diminishing this process of curiosity, that we could begin to lose the ability to form creative, independent thought processes and imaginative concepts?

Daydreaming has not only been proven to improve working memory and be a form of stress relief, but is also an outlet for creativity, with J.K. Rowling admitting that the entire plot of Harry Potter “fell into [her] head” through hours of daydreaming out the train window.

During my placement in Scotland last year, I discovered that the majority of children in my class struggled with creative writing and forming imaginative concepts independently. Upon discussion with my mentor teacher, I was informed that this had become a whole-school issue in recent years. This was not a problem effecting a handful of children, this was effecting almost every child in the school. This lead me to believe that perhaps these children’s brains being constantly stimulated with screens and electronic distractions, could prohibit freedom of thought and independent imagination through daydreaming.  Although these connections have not yet been scientifically proven as far as I’m aware, I do think that we must be mindful of the potential links here.

Whereas with inquiry-based learning, although students are also often distracted by the technology they have at home, the classroom is an environment for them to explore their own ideas. They can form creative connections on their own through student-led inquiry, rather than passively receiving information from the class teacher. They can investigate as supposed to being “spoon fed” knowledge and information.

When I came to this realisation, I was already excited about incorporating inquiry into my future practice (whether that be in an IB school or not). However, it was what I saw on a school trip that truly inspired me and highlighted the IB’s success of making inquiry a natural process in order to promote life-long learning.

We were on a weekend hiking trip. This was an optional excursion for students, parents and teachers to explore and appreciate the Polish countryside together. This was not marketed as an educational trip. Students were told it was “just for fun”. To my amazement, my students were constantly inquiring throughout the day.

“Miss, look at that. I wonder what it is used for.”

“Miss, do you know what that animal is?”

“Miss, I could craft this into a hiking stick, couldn’t I?”

“Miss, do you hear that bird? What could it be?”

“I wonder why those leaves are orange when it is Springtime.”

Inquiry is not something confined to the classroom.

It really is a way of life for IB students.

I feel so lucky to have been able to witness first-hand, the benefits of the IB. Asking questions and being curious allows for creative processes to progress and imagination to thrive. I feel so passionate about this and how we as educators, can use inquiry and provocation as a way to keep creativity and imagination alive. Since the hike, I have been incorporating morning meditations into my days of full responsibility. I am beginning to understand the benefits and arguably the necessity of giving children the opportunity to just daydream and have a moment with their own thoughts, without distraction. Through the curiosity they form and the inquisition that leads their learning, they are not afraid to ask questions, make statements and give opinions. They know that if they do not fully understand a concept, they have not failed. Their learning journey is constant and therefore, they will always have further to go and have room to improve.

Going forward, I feel so encouraged by what I have seen in my school so far. Twenty unique and creative inquirers with a genuine enthusiasm to learn and expand their knowledge. Of course, they do have their moments. Of course, sometimes converting decimals to fractions does not seem like the most interesting thing in the world to them all- but that’s okay. The point is that they possess a growth mindset and are therefore well on their way to life-long learning.

 

 

Living life behind a screen.

Technology grows every stronger each year. It is something that we as a society, have built into our lives and can be a very useful tool that will most definitely remain prominent in the lives of generations to come. Technology gives us the ability to take shortcuts and make our lives easier. As a result, the world around us is fast-paced and ever changing. This is an exciting and positive prospect however, I do think that we also need to remember to stop and reflect on the grand scheme of things from time to time.

I wanted to share a video that Nikki included in one of her IB inputs with us a few weeks ago. Some of the statistics are rather mind-blowing and I think it really helps to reinforce just how much of an influence technology has on all of our lives today.

Technology is amazing. Technology is powerful. Technology is a perfect scientific accumulation of algorithms, numerical sequences and databases. In a perfect world, we could use it perfectly. But, as humans themselves are imperfect, its use can never be without flaws.

Technology being a tool to make our lives easier is a positive and encouraging prospect. Although this is something that I do not want to undermine, I personally feel that for most people in my generation, it has become a lot more than that. It has become something that many struggle to live without.

When I talk about the potentially negative effects of technology, I am mainly referring to the internet and specifically, social media. Social media is a platform to connect with the rest of the world, wherever you are. It can be an area for self-expressionism and  maintaining relationships with friends near and far. Having said this, it is most definitely not without its faults and in fact, has many negative attributes that I would like to discuss.

Mental health issues are incredibly prominent throughout the UK and we therefore must address some of the factors that are leading to  this.

Following a well-being survey conducted by the National Union of Students NI, it was revealed that a shocking 78% of students in Northern Ireland admitted to suffering with mental health problems within the last year. (2017)

A report conducted by The Royal Society for Public Health highlights the pros and cons of social media and shows that there is a direct link between social media and mental health issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to post an Instagram photo just as much as the next person. This in itself, is not an issue. The problem arises when uploading the photo is partnered with (often subconscious) stress and anticipation of how many likes it will get, how many comments it will receive, and how quickly this will happen. I know a lot of people who will upload a photo and repeatedly refresh the page, anxiously anticipating the initial few ‘double-taps’.

It is all about balance.

 

We are lucky to be able to capture beautiful moments that pass us by and keep them in our pockets. It is something that I really enjoy doing and know many people do. That is not the problem.

We are also very fortunate to have the opportunity to contact anyone by simply reaching into our pockets. That is not the problem either.

The problem emerges when people only ever seem to live their lives behind a screen. Yes you can take a picture of a beautiful landscape or an impressive cup of coffee, but perhaps from time to time you should just pause, keep your  phone in your pocket, and appreciate the moment.

 

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This summer, I was lucky enough to work at a camp in Canada for 11 weeks. In complete wilderness. With no internet.  Some may call that technological detox a punishment. I call it bliss.

I lived in a little cabin with my roommate Jem. We didn’t have electricity  but we did use the camp office computer to order some battery-powered fairy lights. They took about three and a half weeks to arrive with Amazon Prime next day delivery but were worth the wait. They made our little space nice and homey. There wasn’t enough light for me to read at night and I obviously couldn’t surf the internet so each night we would just tell each other stories until we fell asleep. Things were simpler at camp. One night we slept on the canoe dock under a meteor shower and silently lay in awe, appreciating how lucky we were to be in that moment. I did of course have my phone with me but I only used it to take about three photos a week and to call home from now and again.

I can’t explain how calm and cleansing life on Canoe Lake was, but I do know for a fact that the lack of social media was a major factor in this. For me, truly immersing myself in nature and appreciating the world around me without a screen necessarily capturing it, is one of the greatest ways to improve my mental health.

I grew up playing outside and with no technology but still later found myself becoming reliant on social media and the internet. This is something that will only become more difficult for young people to disconnect from, as children nowadays are growing up with it being a large part of their lives. This is something that we as teachers will therefore of course need to address in our practice in order to try and combat the mental health issues that social media pressures can aggravate.

How I lived over the summer is of course on the more extreme side of the spectrum, but I have tried to adopt these habits into normal life now that I’m back in the 21st Century. Yes, my phone is a useful tool for me to have. I can still enjoy taking photos and sometimes uploading them for my friends to see. But no, I do not have to scroll through social media before getting out of bed every morning. I do not have to check how many likes my posts are receiving. My phone is not an extension of me and therefore, no harm will come if I don’t look at it for a whole day.

Perhaps this is something that we all need to be reminded of. I used to be fearful that if I didn’t take a picture of a beautiful view or a lunch with a friend, I might forget the moment. If this is something that you like to do, it’s not a problem. However, what I have learnt this year is that if something is truly beautiful and worth remembering, your mind will capture it just fine with no need to tap on a screen to focus on it.

Peter’s Outdoor Learning workshop reinforced a lot of what I have been thinking about recently, and put it in the context of education. The outdoors both sparks inquiry and contextualises content being taught within schools.

Often a picture does not do the subject justice. Take the example of telling a friend about a lovely walk you went on. You can explain it to them through language and imagination rather than always relying on slideshows of photos you take. This allows you to paint your perspective in others’ minds without relying on capturing the perfect moment on a screen. This is something that I would love to adopt into my practice as a teacher. I want to teach children that technology is a useful tool, but you do not always need it to tell a story or fulfill a task. I hope that Outdoor Learning will highlight to pupils that putting a screen down and looking at the world around you can not only relieve the anxieties accompanied with the 21st Century, but open doors for exploration and inquisition.

With 90% of the worlds data having been created in the last couple of years and the amount of new technological information doubling every 2 years, it really makes you think about how different the world will be for children growing up even in the next ten or twenty years. As teachers, we must take advantage of the new and exciting resources we have, but also not forget what is naturally gifted to us in the world.

Our pupils will always be surrounded by addictive games, enticing advertising and constant social media. It is therefore vital in our role as teachers, to remind them that in this fast-paced and modern society, it is sometimes nice to slow down and take a break from it all.

 

Scientific Literacy

Scientific literacy “stands for what the general public ought to know about science” (Durant 1993, p. 129) and “puts emphasis on the understanding of science and technology by those who are not, and do not expect to be, professional scientists and technologists” (Hurd 1997). In order for any scientific advancement the people must have a certain level of understanding of the workings of science and have an appreciation of its aims and general limitations. It also has importance in terms of allowing future generations to be able to cope in a technologically and scientifically advancing world; being able to collect and analyse data effectively, make informed decisions and be a socially informed and responsible, competent citizen (Laugksch 1998 and Hurd 1997). Scientific literacy is incredibly hard to define as it incorporates themes that have changed over time. There seems to be no universally accepted definition. Scientific literacy is used in relation to science education and the general understanding of its principles (DeBoer 1999).
Trusted scientific literacy is vital as a lack of it can often lead to inaccuracies in the media within articles and reports. If misinformation is being shared with the public, their opinions can be warped. This can be particularly detrimental in terms of scientific literacy relating to medicine and health. An example of this is how the media reacted following a study by Wakefield in 1998 which stated that various links suggested that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine could cause autism. Following the study, The Independent published an article with the headline: “Doctors link autism to MMR vaccination”. Although the article also stated that other professionals working with Wakefield said the evidence found was “not strong” and warned that “deaths would rise… if immunisation rates fell”, many parents across the country became reluctant to let their children receive the vaccination due to the headline of this article along with many others. An article by the BBC in 2005 revealed that due to the fear instilled by Wakefield’s study, there were areas in the UK where up to 40% of children had not received the vaccine and were therefore susceptible to infection. After the study was proven to be false and was no longer prevalent within the news, many people who did not receive the immunisation either forgot about it or considered themselves to no longer be classed as part of a vulnerable group. This has led to outbreaks of Measles across the country in recent years (particularly in England and Wales in 2013) as people were not protected against the potentially deadly virus. This is one example of how one small inaccuracy in scientific literacy can be enlarged through the media and lead to severe consequences in society. This example alone shows just how powerful scientific literacy can be.
Teaching young people the concept of fair testing is essential in creating a link with scientific literacy. The current focus in the curriculum about making young people more scientifically literate will allow them to operate in the world more effectively. Fair testing provides valuable skills such as how changing variables can achieve different outcomes in experiments. This teaches children not only the scientific knowledge but also skills such as interpreting data and how to collect valid and relevant results (Millar, R. 2007). Having a grasp of scientific literacy will allow students to understand the data from experiments and why their outcomes are as such, in addition to giving an understanding of the science behind the overall investigation (OECD 2003). The link between fair testing and scientific literacy allows pupils to be able to comprehend the reasoning, the skills and the science behind the experiments they may undertake.

Written by Katie Jones, Blaze Lambert & Kara Robertson.

References:

BBC (2005) ‘No link’ between MMR and autism Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4311613.stm (Accessed: 10 February 2018)

DeBoer, G. E (1999) Scientific Literacy: Another Look at Its Historical and Contemporary Meanings and Its Relationship to Science Education Reform. Available at: https://web.nmsu.edu/~susanbro/eced440/docs/scientific_literacy_another_look.pdf (Accessed 11 February 2018)

Durant, J. R. (1993). “What is scientific literacy?” In J. R. Durant & J. Gregory (Eds.), Science and culture in Europe (pp. 129– 137). London: Science Museum.

Hurd, P. D. (1997) Scientific Literacy: New Minds for a Changing World. Available at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/4837280/hurd_-_science_literacy_1_.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1518457419&Signature=nQg36XvQzcuDBn2IRugKV10S%2Fs4%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DScientific_literacy_New_minds_for_a_chan.pdf (Accessed: 11 February 2018)

Laugksch, R. D. (1998) Scientific Literacy: A Conceptual Overview. Available at: file:///C:/Users/jones_000/Downloads/Laugksch_Scientific_LiteracyScience+education+v+82+n3+407+416+1998.pdf (Accessed: 1 February 2018)

Laurance, J. (1998) ‘Doctors link autism to MMR vaccination’ The Independent 27 February 1998 Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/doctors-link-autism-to-mmr-vaccination-1147081.html

Millar, R. (2007) Scientific Literacy; Can the school science curriculum deliver? Communicating European Research 2005, Pages 145-150

NHS Digital (No Date) MMR vaccine: Biggest percentage of children immunised since vaccine introduced Available at: http://content.digital.nhs.uk/article/3486/MMR-vaccine-Biggest-percentage-of-children-immunised-since-vaccine-introduced (Accessed: 11 February 2018)

OECD (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework – Mathematics, Reading, Science and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills. Paris: OECD (Available online)

New year, same pressures?

The New Year and new semester are now well underway and with this, brings a time for reflection.

This past semester has taught me to have more faith in my own abilities. I have always wanted to go to Scotland to study; moving over here was an exciting new chapter of my life. However, I remember that as the move-in date loomed ever closer, I began to worry about how I would make new friends and if my friends at home would forget about me. I began to worry that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the pressures of university life and independent living. I knew that I was making the right decision by moving away, but I was also aware that I was saying goodbye to my security blanket at home.

Professionally reflecting back on last semester, I feel quite proud of what I have achieved. Not just in terms of grades, but in regards to my own personal development. Although at first I know that many people were unsure of how the Working Together and Values modules related to teaching, I really did see both modules as a very important starting point. Values are the basis to teaching- to society as a whole in fact. Values form opinions regarding how we should treat others and shape our views as to what a moral human being actually is. As future educators, we need to be familiar with our own personal and professional values systems in order to benefit children as they form their own opinions. As for the importance of working together, it is evident that collaboration is at the centre of our profession. Throughout our careers, we will need to work together with not only our fellow teaching colleagues, but with CLD, Social Work, pupils, parents, other school support staff and many more people from different walks of life.

Without knowledge of these initial aspects of our work, we would be unable to thrive within our professions and give the best possible education to the children whom we teach.

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Starting this semester and coming into 2018, I also began to reflect on a lot of things in my personal life. As New Year’s Eve approaches every year, the same conversations always arise and it is something I have been thinking a lot about lately.

“What are your New Year’s resolutions?”                                                     “New year, new me.”

These statements alone, are fine.

However: although it is great to set goals and aims to motivate yourself, I feel that New Year’s resolutions are often so directly related to body-image and self worth. So many people that I know say that they need to lose weight, they need to get better skin and they wish they looked differently.

They can’t see that they are beautiful just the way they are.

The concept of what is ‘beautiful’ has been warped by advertisement and has left many in society today (especially the younger generation), feeling like they do not look good enough and they need to change themselves.

This issue impacts boys and girls alike, however I feel like there is extreme pressure put on young girls due to the nature of advertisements that are photo-shopped. This creates a snowball effect in which more and more retouched images are being published and therefore having a serious effect on the self worth of more and more people.

Unrealistic beauty standards within advertisements have caused me to see more and more retouched photos on social media. Many people nowadays are not only feeling a lack of self worth due to the false expectations of the media, but are retouching their own photos in order to fit in with this warped concept of what beauty is.

The images at the very start and end of this video are the same, however to me, the original looks different before and after seeing the edited version. Bear in mind that I have done minimal amounts of retouching in comparison to advertisements so you can begin to realise what a massive impact airbrushing in the media must have on the subconscious minds of those in society.

The affect that the retouched photo had on my initial opinion of the untouched photo, really highlights to me how damaging airbrushing and enhancements are within the media, especially for young people. This comparison made me realise why so many people feel the photos they post online will not be ‘good enough’ unless they retouch them.

I am not for one second slating those who do retouch their photos in any way. I am aware that most people in society today do do it in some shape or form. If you want to enhance certain features or edit out imperfections, you can. But what is important to realise is that you should only do this if you want to. You should never feel like you need to. Because you don’t.

If you want to, then you are the one in control and there’s no problem. However, if you feel uncomfortable putting up an unaltered image, then you have fallen victim to the image myth. To be honest, it’s difficult for me to advise what exactly you can do if this is the case. Self worth is something that I myself have struggled with for a very long time. You just need to try and override the conflicting messages in your head and be aware that everyone has flaws, no one is perfect and our individuality needs to be celebrated, not edited away.

Teenagers and young adults are probably impacted the most in terms of feeling the pressures of the image myth. However, this begins from childhood. If we can educate children about the fabricated beauty expectations in the media, then they can become more comfortable and confident with themselves from a young age. I am a Peer Educator through Girlguiding UK and a few years ago, I was trained in a topic called ‘Free Being Me’, designed to improve the body confidence and self esteem of young people. Although it is a programme run through guiding and is therefore targeted at girls, it is something that I believe could be (and should be) incorporated into the curriculum in primary schools. Although I have been referring to low self worth in terms of body image, there are so many other social pressures and aspects of life that can also affect it. This is an issue that must be combated. The Curriculum for Excellence has already highlighted the importance of Health and Wellbeing which is fantastic. Mental and physical health are both so important and are especially critical at this developmental stage. It’s something that I am very passionate about and look forward to incorporating into my lessons as a teacher. Social pressures are often what lead to a decline in mental and physical health so it is out job as teachers to tackle this in every way that we can through education.

 

[There is some strong language in this video however, I feel like it is has an important message regarding self-image.]

Girls Can Be Spooky Too!!

Ah yes, it’s that time of year again. Colder days, darker nights, orange-toned fashion trends and the return of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte™. Autumn is in full swing, winter is looming and Halloween is just around the corner.

Halloween brings about many questions. What will we do? Where will we go? Who will we go with? But most importantly: What will we wear?

Perhaps this year I will be a pumpkin? A princess? An astronaut? A werewolf? For me, the costume possibilities are endless. Unfortunately, society seems to think otherwise and for some reason, likes to promote a specific type of costume to women, limiting what they can wear for Halloween if they want to buy something straight off the rack.

“devil costume man”:

“devil costume woman”:

Looking at the images above, it’s quite astonishing to see how well the addition of two little letters can expose gender standards in society today. There is absolutely nothing wrong with dressing like any of these images at Halloween if you are comfortable with it. In many ways, it could be argued to be promoting positive body confidence, but only if you are comfortable with it and like this style of costume. However, it is unhealthy to promote that this is ‘the norm’. This could easily cause young girls to develop expectations that this is a modern beauty standard and is therefore how they need to dress in order to be accepted in society.

Why can a woman not look for a nurse or a sailor costume without finding things like Hospital Heartbreaker  and Harbour Hottie when the male equivalent of these costumes can be found easily? These costumes are not for everyone and they need to stop being so prominent in the media, pressurising people to conform to what many see as objectifying.

I urge you to google more Halloween costumes with “woman” written after the title. Prisoner, Zombie, even Disney searches have similar results.

I am not saying that all Halloween costumes should be gender neutral from now on. There is nothing wrong with having some costumes more feminine and others more masculine. What I am saying is that until female costumes, characters, and representation in advertisements stop being so sexualised, gender equality will continue to be a mere fantasy.

Gender inequality is still a massive issue and something that I believe, needs to be tackled in the classroom from a young age.

If a little boy wants to dress up as Elsa it does not mean that he is ‘confused’, he just likes pretty dresses. Quite frankly, I don’t blame him. If a girl wants to dress up as a pirate (beard and all) because she thinks they are cool, please don’t question it. We need to let children be children and not hold them back with societal norms from such a young age. Just let them express themselves for who they want to be.

I am a strong believer that the classroom is a microcosm of society. Within a class, there are people from many different backgrounds with many different personalities and opinions. In class, children share experiences and learn how to get on with each other, despite some differences that they may have. Therefore, encouraging equality in a classroom of children will translate into their adult lives when they begin to adapt into the ‘real world’ as such.

The backlash that John Lewis received after removing ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ labels from their childrenswear highlights the extent of this issue. There is no need for such a blatant difference in clothing styles. Putting your daughter in a jumper with a dinosaur on it will not cause gender confusion. Their bid to reduce gender stereotypes encourages a movement that will hopefully mean some day, women will be able to search for Halloween costumes and actually find something that resembles what they envisaged. It seems so trivial and insignificant but the meaning behind it is in fact colossal.

National Coming Out Day.

With yesterday being National Coming Out Day, now seems a better time than ever to discuss my story.

Here goes…

 

 

I’m straight.

 

From a young age, I did not feel like there was something very different about how I acted or who I liked. I was not worried about sharing who I really was for fear of being judged. I did not feel shame or guilt for how I felt and who I was.

This is an aspect of my life that does not define me as a person. I am more than my sexual identity.

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Why am I making a blog post about this? Surely I know that I don’t need to come out if I’m straight? I should be proud of who I am.

This is my point. If I don’t need to go through the fear of coming out, why should anyone else? Everyone should be proud of who they are. Differences are what make us special and it frustrates me that injustices such as this still exist in society today. If no one will judge me for who I want to love, then why do so many people still have such negative opinions in regards to who other people love?

Don’t get me wrong, National Coming Out day is such a positive thing in terms of LGBTQ+ awareness. But why, in this day and age, do people still need to ‘come out’ as if they are sharing something shameful? Why does society accept me by the simple fact that I am a cis white heterosexual, whereas my friends who are Bi, Gay or Trans have to suffer with feelings of oppression and judgement? Why do they often feel like they need to hide who they really are? Each and every one of them are amazing people who are not defined by their sexual identity. Why do we live in a society where minorities such as these are often oppressed instead of celebrated?

Every member of the LGBTQ+ community has felt fear of not being accepted at some point in their life. I really believe that as teachers, we will have a real responsibility to promote equality to our classes from a young age. I aim to strive towards the promotion of individuality. It is our job as future teachers, to ensure that we raise awareness of everyone’s differences in a positive light. Not just to eradicate homophobia alone, but to make each and every pupil in that class feel valued. It is simple things such as multi-racial dolls, to books with same-sex couples and characters who challenge gender stereotypes. Nothing negative would come from this. It would simply encourage the next generation to be more accepting of each other and encourage them to express who they are and be proud of their identity.

The importance of addressing differences in a positive way is vital in order to shape open-minded adults of the future. Differing views and opinions are often very healthy. Different appearances, backgrounds and personalities are what make us unique. I believe that encouraging each child to be proud of their individual charisma and talents will encourage nerve and resilience in later life.

Quoting my previous blog post, I really want to reiterate this important message:

“By acknowledging and promoting the fact that everyone is different; everyone in turn, will become equal.”

 

You’re Not A Feminist?

If you believe in equality you are a feminist.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not ignorant to the fact that there is a stigma surrounding feminism. Many people, through no fault of their own, have a very warped view of what feminism actually is.

I did a quick Google Image search of “Feminism ClipArt” and some of the photos that I found clearly highlight the negative social constructs that society and the media have created.

 

This is not feminism.

Feminism still has a long way to go until it will be accepted and destigmatised. The road to equality will be a long and tiresome one but I am confident that it will be worth it in the end. Not just for feminists- for women- but for everyone. In today’s society, differences are picked out instead of promoted. Individuality is questioned and uniqueness is often scorned over.

  • Feminism is wanting your daughter to feel as strong and as appreciated as her brothers.
  • It is being a man who wants his female co-workers to receive equal pay.
  • It is not needing to worry about being slated for deciding to keep your maiden name when you get married.
  • It is wanting to be comfortable wearing what makes you happy when you go out, without fear of looking like you are “asking for it”.

It is feeling valued, feeling strong and most importantly, feeling equal.

Yes, every movement has radical members and unfortunately, this small group of people within the feminist movement has created warped perceptions of feminism. Being a feminist does not mean that you hate men or that you think you are better than men. In fact, many feminist are indeed men. Feminists do not want any special treatment. Just equal treatment.

 

Feminism = Equality

 

Although I wanted to keep this blog post fairly short, I feel passionate about the fact that this conversation should continue. I understand that it can be very difficult to overcome such a strong stigma. I hope that this may have somehow changed someone’s perception in some way, shape or form.

If you haven’t already seen the video below, I would highly recommend it. Emma Watson is a fantastic example of a feminist. She is not radical. She is not a misandrist. She outlines the importance of raising awareness and strives for equality. It’s well worth a watch.

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I was inspired to write this blog post after our recent workshop looking into what gender is and how it may affect us. It really got me thinking about how far we have come in terms of equality, but also how far we still have to go. We are brought up in a society which ingrains us with stereotypes and social constructs. Simple phrases such as “big brave boy” and “throw like a girl” indoctrinate children from a young age and I believe that as future teachers, we need to adapt in order to inspire the future generation to be whatever they want to be and not to feel constricted to a certain group or construct.

It’s so important that we remind children that they are unique and should be proud of that.

By acknowledging and promoting the fact that everyone is different; everyone in turn, will become equal.

How Our Resource Allocation Task Reflects Society

The resource allocation task seemed a simple endeavour. However, little did we know how thought provoking such a small and seemingly simple task could be.

As one of the many enthusiastic freshers in the room, I was eager to begin the activity. The task was to create a tool for a new student, using the materials provided in our assigned envelopes. As I emptied our group’s envelope to reveal three paper clips, a pencil, some blue tack and a lone post-it note, I realised that we had a challenge ahead. Not to worry though- everyone would surely be in the same boat and we could display our creativity with the little resources that we all received- couldn’t we?

All of a sudden, I could see that other members of my group were clearly perturbed by the assortment of materials that other groups had at their tables. Colourful paper, post-its galore, scissors, tape and an array of markers nonetheless! The dismay around the table as my fellow group members frantically shook the envelope in case we were mistaken, was a pitiful sight to say the least. Why did the others get more than us?

Although it was soon clear to me that there must be some sort of psychological test taking place, I was determined to make the most of our compromised situation.

It cannot be ignored that through our hardship, my group did bond to a degree. It’s safe to say that we were quite proud of ourselves, having made a 3D map from virtually nothing. Although it wasn’t anything special, we were confident that the hard work that we put in would surely be acknowledged. Therefore, I’m sure that it was clear to Brenda that the experiment was successful by the utter disappointment on our faces as she scored us a whopping 2/10. After all of our hard work, surely she had made a mistake? Obviously our project could not be directly compared to the other groups. We had less materials. This was the epitome of injustice. This was so unfair.

And that’s when the penny dropped.


Not only did this experiment reflect the accidental inequality that may take place within a classroom, but society as a whole. Brenda’s attention throughout the session was primarily focused on the groups with more materials. It almost felt as if we had done something wrong, or that she had some sort of personal vendetta against us. She was focusing on the other groups (who did not necessarily need her help), whereas we were somewhat bewildered by how to turn a few paperclips into a useful tool for a prospective student.
Brenda highlighted to us how important it is to treat all pupils equally, which sometimes, does mean giving certain pupils extra attention. She also highlighted that it is important to find a balance; varying techniques for different levels, abilities and circumstances.
There was a definite juxtaposition at the end of the session, as the individuals with a plethora of materials went from feeling positive about their projects, to guilty that they did not share with the more deprived groups.

This experiment exposed the fact that those who are more privileged, may not necessarily notice the situations of those less fortunate. The only groups who mentioned the amount of materials supplied, were the groups with less than the others. The fact that none of the groups with plenty of materials questioned why they had more than the others, highlighted how it can sometimes be difficult to notice inequalities when you yourself, are not personally affected.

As teachers, we will be faced with classes full of children from a range of different backgrounds; with a range of different upbringings. Some children face so many changes in their lives. For some, there is a lack of stability with few constants present. However, a teacher is a constant within a child’s life. Most children, from the age of three to eighteen years old, will always be able to rely on their teachers. Therefore, they have a duty of care to make each child feel valued; a duty to be aware of those who may need a helping hand, in order to ensure that everyone feels integrated.