Thinking outside the envelope…

During the Values class on Tuesday, the class was split into 5 groups, each group receiving the same big brown envelope (or so we thought). We were then all given the same task of thinking of and creating something that we would have found useful as new university students, using only the supplies given to us in the envelopes. However, after opening our envelope and finding a mere pencil, blue tack, rubber band, sticky note and three paper clips, we soon lost hope of our amazing plans of a “google maps” inspired online app for the Dalhousie Building, that could guide you to class. Unfortunately, we resorted to a basic paper version. 

Being the nosey person I am, I soon realised that all the other groups had considerably more supplies than our group. I mainly noticed as the other groups had coloured paper that they had so much of, that they had discarded some after making a mistake and just started on a new piece, whereas my group were drawing on the envelope as we weren’t supplied paper. After our lecturer made many sharp comments and “subtle” digs to our group, including during our presentation (we received a solid 1/10), we eventually caught on the deeper meaning that we were being taught. All throughout the task the groups with more supplies were treated with encouragement and respect for their ideas. Whereas, when it got to the groups with less, her whole demeanour changed and we were shown a much colder reaction to anything we said or presented. Even as young adults, her lack of enthusiasm made us feel discouraged and as though we shouldn’t bother as clearly there was something about us she didn’t like. As aspiring teachers we were shown that if we can feel like that, children will be effected even more. 

This class showed us that structural inequality can go unnoticed by more privileged people as the groups with more resources were not aware of our disadvantage. Being in a group with little supplies was a powerful, emotional experience as we were genuinely annoyed and confused about our treatment. We need to remember that there will always be children in our care that are from all different types of backgrounds. Some will be used to luxuries and others may only dream of coming home from school to an iPad and a cooked dinner everyday. The world will never be completely equal and secretly most of us don’t want it to be, as this would mean giving up some of our luxuries. However, as in the GTCS values, I think everyone will agree that all schools and societies should show equal care, respect and encouragement to everyone and understand and celebrate diversity.

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