Category Archives: 1 Prof. Values & Personal Commitment

Inaccurate Limitations

The recent Health and Wellbeing lectures and TDT’s have been amongst the most personally and professionally challenging inputs that I’ve been faced with since embarking on this journey that society said I’d never get a chance at. As the topic of relationships was discussed during the first lecture, I began to reflect on my own childhood and the difference that the relationships with various teachers had on my life. Without the influence that they had, I assume that my life would have taken a very different path. Their presence always gave me a sense of security, freedom and hope. The high expectations that they had for me made me strive to find a better life for myself, to break free from the ‘warzone’ that I called home. However, I cannot help but wonder if I would have been encouraged in the same way had they known what I faced when I left the school building to return to my reality.

Following this lecture, we had two videos to watch as part of a TDT. These videos help to explain why I see the world the way I do. One of the videos was by John Carnochan, who established the Violence Reduction Unit within Strathclyde police. Carnochan discussed many issues in this video which once again caused me to reflect. One of the most prominent things that Carnochan said during this video was:

“raise a child in a warzone and you’ll raise a warrior.“

Despite the chaotic state of my home life, I was never a child who was disengaged on a regular basis; I didn’t have outbursts of anger or upset in school. Instead, school was the place I could be myself, the place where everything made sense and most importantly the place where I could let my guard drop a little.  From as young as nine or ten I was able to live what may been seen as a double life. What appeared to be a normal way to live at home and what seemed to be normal at school were never the same. School was tranquil, even on the days where others may say it was mayhem.

For a long time, I’ve been able to see that every child reacts to stress in very different ways. Some children deal with this by lashing out in anger or upset; others will be disengaged with everyone and everything; for yet more children, like me, the only way to cope is not to speak, or shout or scream but instead to throw themselves head first into learning. This allow an escape to be found.

Today, we had the chance to discuss this video at the beginning of the lecture. I found this to be difficult as I never really know what to say when it comes to actually speaking about how I grew up and what my relationships were like. What did strike me today was the expectations that people place on children who have never had the opportunity to completely escape from stress, aggression and violence at home. As much as I believe that the comment today was not meant in the way that I perceived it, I was a little shocked. I feel that there is a valuable lesson to be learnt from today, which I presume will have gone unnoticed by many people in the lecture theatre. The limitations that I have fought (and still fight) against  were once again placed upon me. The limits of living and growing around a vast variety of social issues, including drugs and violence, are different for every person. Everyone has developed different levels of resilience and a variety of coping strategies and therefore a generalised limitation cannot be placed over the group of people.

As I continue on this road to joining the teaching profession, It is coming more and more clear how easy it is to place limits on people which have the possibility to stick with them throughout their lives.


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.

Nothing is as valuable as encouragement

Last week we were faced with a task which had more to do with real life than first met the eye. Split into five groups, we were given envelopes with different resources in them and asked to make something with our items to give to a new student at university. The thing was, as the group number increased the resources that the group was given decreased. Not only amount of resources goes down, the amount of encouragement they received went down. The groups who had lots of resources also received lots of encouragement, likewise the groups without many items received no encouragement whatsoever.
This was very insightful for me. Not everyone comes from the same background and has the same privileges. Not every child in a class has the same things. From experience, I think it’s possible to do things with less resources than others however the encouragement is what can really make the difference.
As teachers, we need to be aware that not every child sitting in our classrooms will have had a stable start in life. They haven’t all had the comfortable upbringing. They have all walked different paths in their short lives. Each individual is on their own journey through life, just as we are. No two journeys or upbringings are exactly the same as everyone reacts differently to different situations. Although we may not be able to solve all these problems and ensure that every child has identical resources, we can ensure that every child receives the encouragement that they need to develop into a confident individual. Encouragement is an amazing thing that has the ability to change a child’s life. As extreme as that may sound, it is very true. When I was younger, the encouragement of one teacher totally transformed my life. It allowed me to develop confidence that I lacked.
As much as we cannot provide every child with material possessions, we can give every child our time and encouragement. That’s worth more than most people realise.

Racism Input

Discrimination is a concept that I’ve never really understood. I just don’t see the need for it to exist. Why does it matter which country you come from or what colour your skin is? Why should one life be worth more than another?

I find it very easy to see how easy it is for society to adopt a ethnocentric view. As I grew older, I began to realise that this was the view of my parents. Being an inquisitive person, I have always enjoyed questioning peoples views in order to try to understand where they come from and what they believe to be right. This did not come without its difficulties. As a young child I was taught that the colour of your skin mattered in how you should be treated but at around the age of 8 I questioned everything. I  didn’t see the point of treating someone as less of a person for things they could not help.

Although I found the input insightful and interesting, it didn’t change my opinions and thoughts on the topic.