Monthly Archives: October 2017


So, this morning’s lecture was all about poverty. Whilst looking at the reading prior to the lecture, it provoked feelings of nervousness but also excitement to a point. One of my favourite things to do is to ask questions and find out what other people’s opinions are relating to topics which I feel strongly about; poverty is one of these topics.
I found the reading for this week to be really interesting; not because I learnt anything new but because I had one of those big moments where something just clicks into place and makes sense. One of the things to read for this week was a report entitled “The Roles We Play”. This came with my questions for me, not because I don’t understand the situations these people face, rather because I understand only too well.
It totally bewilders me as to why it is the people who have nothing that give the most to their community. The people who understand what it is like to suffer; to struggle; to have nothing, are often the first to stand up and look to be the light to someone else’s darkness. People, as a whole, like to attach labels onto one another. As a society, we are very good at judging people when we have very little information on the person and their situation. These labels and judgements have the tendency to be negative. When we hear about people not having enough money to live, the automatic assumption is that they live on the state, they’re lazy or they just don’t work hard enough to change their life but what about the people who work, the ones who try their best to make the best life that they can for their families? Where do they fit into this broken image that society has?
During the lecture today we looked at a role-play involving two fourteen year old girls – Emily and Kylie-Ann – who had very different experiences of childhood. Emily was a child who appears to have had a loving, stable comfortable upbringing with parents who, although may put her under pressure, want what’s best for her. The family have multiple streams of income flowing into the home providing a degree of financial stability. Kylie-Ann on the other hand, lives with her grandmother in a tower block. The household relies on benefits to be able to survive and when she needs new clothes or shoes, Kylie-Ann’s Gran has to rely on payday loans.
The girls school lives are also very different. Emily attends the school that both her parents has also attended. She is very rarely absent but even when she is, her parents request any work she misses to be sent home. She is very ambitious and aims to study medicine at the university of St Andrews. Although her parents are encouraging regarding her education, they put pressure on Emily to be the best.
Kylie-Ann seems to have had a very different experience. Her Gran allows her to skip school and isn’t encouraging towards her education. Although she doesn’t want to live on benefits for the rest of her life, she doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life.
Whilst learning more about the girls, I could think of many situations in my own life and in the lives of other people I know that has similarities to the stories. I find it easy to relate to the instability in Kylie-Ann’s life.
From a young age, school was a stable place for me. The one place I could rely on to be consistently the same. When I found life difficult I would throw myself into school work, maths in particular. I didn’t see it at the time but reflecting now, I can see that my love of maths that I developed as an eight year old, was my way of dealing with the uncertainty in other areas of my life.
It would have been easier for my life to take the same path as Kylie-Ann’s. However, my life was influenced massively by the teachers I had in school. I was always encouraged to be the best version of myself that I could be academically. Although I lacked the confidence in myself as a person, I had a great deal of confidence in my academic ability as a child which provided the baseline I needed to break the vicious cycle that I was trapped in.
Issues such as poverty and social injustice have the ability to either throw a child headfirst into their education in order the better their lives or to send a child to follow the path that society has prepared for them because of their upbringing. Although teachers may not be able to transform the lives of the children in the class, they have the ability to encourage every child to be the best they can be and to build lives that they are happy to lead.

Revalue the Priorities

A few weeks ago, I was introduced this article regarding  school pupils being sent home because of their school uniform. Reading through, I was intrigued to see why young people were being prevented for learning by the very people who are in place to allow them to learn and support them on their journey! The further through the article I got, the more infuriated I become. I am a strong believer that school uniform is important not only to get pupils in the correct mental state to learn but to give them a feeling of belonging. However, I find the article to be extreme.

Pupils are being stripped of the opportunities to learn and to set themselves up for life. What goes through teachers minds to become so pernickety over the appearance of their school that they ignore the value of education? I understand that pupils can return to school once they have “appropriate” school uniform on but, what about the pupils who aren’t as fortunate as others? The ones who cannot afford to go and buy a whole new wardrobe for school because the items they or their parents have purchased aren’t acceptable. Many young people are still growing quite quickly at the beginning of secondary school, it cannot be helped. Items such as blazers can be expensive so what happens when a family doesn’t have the money to replace it mid-year. This seems to me to be yet another way of singling children out who don’t have the same privileges as other.

A school should be a place of stability, a place where everyone feels as though they are being judged for the items of clothing that they have. How can we expect children to find who they are as an individual when they are under so much pressure to the same as every one else. Young people are already put under so much pressure from the media to look and act a certain way but now they are being put under similar pressure from school. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly agree in the value in school uniform but only when it is in it’s correct place on the priority list! The people making these decisions are only in the position to be able to make them because they have already come through the system, the same system that they are preventing these children to make the most out of because they are being sent home for the way they dress. It doesn’t make sense.